Friday, July 13, 2012
"Good will come to the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. He will be like a tree planted by the water, that sends out its roots by the river. It will not be afraid when the heat comes but its leaves will be green. It will not be troubled in a dry year, or stop giving fruit." (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NLV)
A few weeks ago, I wrote about the slight drought besetting the area in which I live, and how that translates into a spiritual analogy. In just a few short weeks, this same dryness has now been declared a severe drought in my area of Wisconsin. Burning bans have been joined by watering bans with even wheat fields starting on fire merely by being harvested. And God has brought forth additional spiritual lessons as a result.
One point of curiosity to me in this weather is the odd look of established trees and shrubs still bearing their lush greenery as lawns and fields surrounding them are so desperately dead and dry. This can only be attributed to one essential difference -- deep roots. The grasses, most flowers and young plants have fragile footing that stands very close to the surface, making them far more susceptible to drought. Whereas large trees have deep, deep root systems that run several feet under the ground both protecting them from topical dryness and enabling them to seek water tables that run far beneath the earth's veneer.
This example serves as a solid practical reminder to me that tending to my spiritual depth in all seasons will prevent much personal suffering, shriveling and ugliness in life's arid seasons. (See "Parched Earth," posted June 27, 2012) God was keenly aware of these cycles of the earth when He inspired much of His written word. Jesus promises in both John, Chapter 4 and John, Chapter 7 that He gives "living water" to those who seek Him. That same "living water" was spoken of in Jeremiah, Chapters 2 and 17 as well as Zechariah, Chapter 14. And the eternal provision of "living water" is described in Revelation 7. The term "living water" is one that those who dwell in the Middle East can relate to because they live in a dry climate. This two word term refers to bubbling streams and copious rains rather than the more common stagnant ponds or cisterns to which they are accustomed. (I recommend The New Unger's Bible Dictionary for studying such phrases.) The bottom line is that God alone is the provider of active, life-giving needs, and deep attachment to Him helps us to thrive no matter what the circumstances.
In meditating on what my surroundings look like now, I want to be like the man described in Jeremiah 17:7-8 or in Psalm 1. I don't want to be shallow and lifeless in the seasons that tend to scorch us. To me, this deeply rooted analogy also brings me to Matthew 13:3-23 with the parable of the sower. In particular, verse 21 of this passage demonstrates how easily our faith can be uprooted when we are merely living on the surface.
Once again, I refer back to my post of June 27, 2012, knowing that my time in God's word, prayer and faith-filled relationships helps me to grow and maintain those deep roots. And as this summer's weather shows me, even the established trees with deep roots need a continual soaking or they tend to experience undue stress and lose a few leaves out of season. It won't kill the bush or arbor, but for a time, it won't look as it should. These reminders should compel us to steadily remain in that holy habit of keeping those "roots" established near fresh, running waters. How are you doing with that?
PRAY: God, it's the summer, and there are so many fun busy things to do. And the kids are home from school and want more from me. It's so easy to forget to carve out some time to be alone with You or maintain my good spiritual habits when my routine is different. But the drought could be just around the corner, and my well would be dry. Remind me and beckon me each day to come sit and fill my heart with Your life-giving waters!