The Tree

We all have days that seem to sap our strength, robbing us of beauty and clouding our sense of self. Too many days like that and we are in danger of rotting from the inside out. I can usually trace these stormy days to a drift I allowed in my relationship with Jesus. I have inadvertently silenced the voice of truth and listened to the counsel of the wicked one. I have let my selfish desires make decisions for me that are less than wise. It is in those times that I have forgotten who God says I am. In Psalm 1, God’s word likens us to a tree, planted by streams of water, yielding fruit with leaves that do not wither if we only delight in the Lord. You see, God delights to supply us the strength and beauty our souls crave if only we let our roots of faith push deep toward His heart rather than snake out toward temporary pleasures.
There is a tree in my backyard that was a mere sapling when we moved into our house. We immediately staked the fragile tree to the ground with supports and anchors so the thin trunk could withstand the winds. As the years passed, this tree grew tall, strong and quite beautiful. I especially love it in the spring when the pink blossoms burst with color after the dullness of winter. There is also a tree in my front yard that was only knee high when we moved in. This tree had a thick trunk and needed no support. It, however, did not grow straight, tall and beautiful. It grew crooked, quite ugly and caused us a lot of trouble.
What was the difference? Well, the tree in my back yard was rooted deep in good soil, and had an ample water supply. The tree in my front yard had shallow roots, hard soil and was on a drip system. In Psalm 1, God compares our spiritual life to a tree. It is possible to spend your whole life knowing about the truths of God but never really knowing Him. To be content with a surface knowledge of scripture, to convince ourselves we don’t have time to pray is to let our roots remain shallow. We can allow ourselves to be spiritual nourished on a mere drip system of truth or we can partake of the overflowing fountain that God has blessed us with. It’s true, life is busy. We are faced with many distractions. And, like the tree in my front yard, we can become crooked, weak and not very nice to look at when we are not being nourished from the abundant source of life only available in a relationship with Christ.
God gives us the secret to beauty and strength in His word. When we pursue knowing Jesus in the deepest part of our soul, being rooted and grounded in the truth of God’s word, drawing upon the grace, glory and strength of God, our roots will run deep in the good soil of salvation’s truth;  this is what makes our spirit beautiful and strong to the glory of God. Are we planted and nurtured in the soil of Christ’s character? If we open our hearts to Him, completely, He will keep us rooted firmly in His strength and in His love so that His beauty will be reflected through our lives.
One summer we finally had to remove the tree in my front yard. The years of storms ravaged it. The shallow roots had caused so much damage to the ground around it that we knew it would fall over. When we examined it after tearing it down, it looked as if it had died from the inside out. The once frail looking tree in my back yard, however, though it endured the same storms, stands tall and grows more beautiful every year because its roots were hidden deep beneath the ground reaching the source of nourishment it desperately needed.

Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord,
and on his law he meditates day and night.

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
Psalm 1:1-4

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