...running the course God sets before us, no matter the cost, no matter the task, to the end, for His glory

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Where am I Planted?

Psalm 1:1-3

How blessed is the one who does not follow the advice of the wicked,

or stand in the pathway with sinners,

or sit in the assembly of scoffers!

Instead he finds pleasure in obeying the Lord’s commands;

he meditates on his commands day and night.

He is like a tree planted by flowing streams;

it yields its fruit at the proper time,

and its leaves never fall off.

He succeeds in everything he attempts.

We gathered at the river, in a kind of circle, perched on old camp chairs, singing hymns in a cathedral of cypress trees. Having gone camping with good Christian friends all weekend, it was a joy to end it with a Sunday morning service by the river of the state park. Sure, there were a few awkward or questioning stares from people who floated by us in tubes or boats, but that is okay. Hopefully our joy in worshiping the Lord shone through.

As I looked at the big trees surrounding us I could just hear Psalm 1 resounding in my head. There was one particular tree that was huge and especially beautiful and I began to wonder about how old it was and what it had lived

through and wishing it could develop the Narnian ability to be a talking tree. I would have loved to ask it some questions. But we were not in Narnia, but rather in southwest Texas. And for a tree to survive in Texas it has gone through many, many years of harsh conditions. Years of drought. Years of flood. And only a very few years of "just right" conditions.

How did it survive?

And more importantly, how did it thrive?

To survive the drought years it needed two things. First, it needed to be very near the river, where it could receive dependable moisture. This I can attest to being true for this tree- it was very close to the water's edge, the only source of water that was visible for miles. Second, it needed deep roots to tap the water below during the times the river ran dangerously low or even dry. And in Texas, rivers can do both. Now, while I can attest to the location of the tree...it was right by the water...the only testimony of its roots are the massive circumference of the trunk and the soaring height of its branches. So while I couldn't see the deep roots, I could see the evidence of them.

To survive the flood years those roots did not need to only be deep, but they needed to also be wide and be very, very strong. Cypress trees can actually survive under prolonged flooding as a matter of fact, which is a very difficult task for any tree.

Flooding and drought offer widely divergent stresses for the tree and for it to be able to survive both and even better yet to THRIVE is a testimony to its strength and flexibility.

What about me? Where am I planted? What is the depth and breadth of my root system? Is there evidence of those roots? How capable am I to handle the divergent stresses in life?

The above Psalm offers two sets of observations on the "blessed man" and they are both about things he actively and volitionally chooses to do. First he needs to choose to NOT. NOT to follow the advice of the wicked: because what are the chances the wicked are going to give you good advice? NOT to stand in the pathway- the road or direction- of the sinner: because that road on which you are standing will soon be the road on which you are walking and it is a direction you should NOT be going. And lastly, NOT to sit in the seat of scoffers: because when you are sitting with those who scoff and mock godliness, pretty soon you will be doing the same thing.

What happens when you take wicked advice, get on the sinner's road, and sit with those who mock the Lord and His people?

This tree is in my back yard and it could not survive an especially strong and vicious storm. And just as this tree was devastated by having insufficient roots, our bad decisions to purposefully follow people and paths that are not God's best for us can have devastating effects for us and those around us.

Next in Psalm 1, the "blessed man" is described and what he needs to actively DO. DO find pleasure in obeying the Lord's commands: because they are for your benefit and protection and will be the best "advise" you will ever receive. DO meditate on, concentrate upon, memorize, and embed those commands day and night: because what you think and meditate upon you will eventually become.

And what is the result of all that obeying and meditating?

He is like a tree planted by flowing streams;

it yields its fruit at the proper time,

and its leaves never fall off.

He succeeds in everything he attempts.

Oh, Lord, help me stay planted in You.

Please grow my roots deep and wide in Your Love

in Your Commands

in Your ways.

And at the proper time may the fruit you grow

bless those You put in my path.

And may my deep roots be evidenced by branches

that soar in heights of praise to You.

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