Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NLT)
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence. They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green and they never stop producing fruit.”
Before I get up each morning, I begin to contemplate my time with the Lord. Sometimes it even begins in my dreams as I sense the Lord is stirring within me as His Spirit awakens my heart. For those who have never experienced this kind of participation with God and His Spirit this may seem weird and uncomfortable. I believe that the Lord wants to speak to each one of us every single day. I talk to my husband and children all the time. I desire an intimate connection with each one of the more than social media “friends” or “acquaintances”. I want to share life with them. Everything in the Word of God points to the Lord desiring such a connection with us. Christ’s willingness to go to the Cross and endure the severity of crucifixion should indicate a deeper longing than that of any other love to be close to us. His Blood covers our sin. His Grace is enough to open an access door into His Presence that few will ever take advantage of. Yet it is in this place and amidst my undoing that I find a place so wonderful that I need to venture there each and every day – multiple times a day. These constant interactions create roots that bind me to Jesus. It is how I become rooted and grounded in His Love. “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness.” (Colossians 2:6-7) It’s all about connecting our life to Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. It is a forfeiture of this life to obtain something far greater.
Why all this nostalgia this morning? I have not been myself for a while now. Haven’t really been able to put my finger on it other than just haven’t been overflowing with joy and enthusiasm about my salvation as usual. I have equated it to some form of post-traumatic stress response to all our family has endured. Ever since I can remember, I am the one who does great in a crisis and falls apart when it is over. Maybe three years was just too long to hold out, the lingering traumatic effect has immobilized me in many ways. When I read this verse this morning, it caused me to reflect on something far deeper and much greater than how I have been feeling. Even though some days I feel like the raggedy toy our puppy drags around and shakes unmercifully before fully attacking it, I have found that I still have faith. My trust is completely in the Lord. He is my confident hope even though I seem like a torn up mess. I trust God even now. There is a glimpse of me inside this shell that has been trying to act like her old self. I am a little different now. I am changed. Never forsaken and most certainly not forgotten, my Father is reminding me today that I am like a tree.
When I read the verse in Jeremiah, it took me to the beach in my mind. I love the beach when it is almost empty. With gentle waves crashing on the shore and the subtle laughter of my kids in the background as the wind rushes over my face and through my hair, it is so soothing. I am blessed. We were not able to take a spring break trip but somehow in this moment I feel like we have had a vacation. What’s that? It’s been more than three years since we could pack up the kids and head out. Trusting the Lord means He is my hope and confidence in all things including recovery from the ordeal we have been through. It means that a ll that concerns me He is perfecting just as He promised. (Psalm 138:8) Jesus is working good from every detail of our life. (Romans 8:28) He is redeeming lost time. He is providing all we need and compensating us for what has been taken from us. Trust is an everyday connection to the Lord. I cannot pick and choose what I will trust the Lord to do and expect my life to change but rather I must commit everything that I do Him. (Psalm 37:5)
Psalm 92:12-13 (NLT)
But the godly will flourish like palm trees and grow strong like the cedars of Lebanon. For they are transplanted to the Lord’s own house. They flourish in the courts of our God.
Our pastor has been preaching a series on the changing seasons of our life. He asks if you are “potted” or are you “planted”? The point is that if you are planted in God and His Word trusting Him then you will flourish. You have to be planted though. Sometimes to be planted means that we must be transplanted. Salvation is transplantation from this world into the Kingdom of God. This would be considered foreign soil because we are born into this world. But thanks to Jesus and His Blood – we are given the opportunity to change our residency. Those who decide to trust the Lord and make the switch will become god-like or godly people. Why? We are transplanted to the House of the Lord. This was a good teaching series and great reminder that as believers it is important to constantly examine our connection to Christ and work to grow deeper roots in His Kingdom. The only problem is that sometimes that means change. Our pastor could not possible have known that this message would take root in his own son’s heart and he subsequently would answer the call of God to move to New Hampshire as a full-time worship pastor of an up and coming church. This wouldn’t have hit home quite so harshly had the same young man had not married our daughter. These two kids who are just barely 21 years old left their lifelong home, family, friends and church to move 1400+ miles away. It is almost Canada. Living in Florida, this might as well be such a transplantation. We all have learned to trust God a little more in this season of change. Why? Why the need for change? The shift causes us to reach a little deeper, search a little more, grab a better hold of that anchor called hope to hold on. Change is tough sometimes especially this one. But God has a point in all of this – He wants us to flourish. He is removing us from the “native soil” of this world (Psalm 37:35-36) to the “fertile soil” (Matthew 13:8) of His Kingdom.
Psalm 1:1-3 (NLT)
Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither and they prosper in all they do.
On our daughter and son-in-law’s last Sunday at our church, the congregation prayed over them and gathered after service to say their goodbyes. Many came to comfort the moms and dads, it was a very emotional event. A woman came up to me to offer encouraging words. She said, “It will be difficult but you will make it.” Now if she had stopped there, it may have been an encouraging word but she went on to relent “I mean I don’t how you are going to make it. I would just die if my children left me” and so on and so on. To be honest, I checked out at that moment and almost had to laugh. For three years, my son has endured such words of “encouragement”. People who mean well but don’t have the faith or trust or truth to back it up. This is why the Word of God is absolutely essential to trust the Lord. At first it will seem foreign to you because it is. It contradicts most everything that we are taught to believe in this life. However, it is the foundation of faith necessary to learn to trust the Lord. We must delight in the Lord. Meditate on it day and night until we know and understand that it applies to everything in our life. This develops the roots of our faith called trust that allow us to be planted and bear fruit in EVERY season even the hard ones, hot ones, difficult ones, and downright devastating ones that leave us completely undone before the Lord. This is breaking the hard ground in our heart so He can plant in us some more so we will continue to bear fruit, thrive and prosper in this life.
Psalm 52:8-9 (NLT)
But I am like an olive tree, thriving in the house of God. I will always trust in God’s unfailing love. I will praise you forever, O God, for what you have done. I will trust in your good name in the presence of your faithful people.
Thriving in God’s Love and Provision for our life is not all about you and me. It allows the tiny seed of faith planted in our heart to grow into a lovely tree that will support others in their journey to Christ. (Luke 13:18-19) If we don’t prosper, how will we ever convince others that He is more than enough? How will they know that His Grace is sufficient? How will they know that His Love never fails? We are the fruit of salvation that feeds the needs of others. Not because of anything we do, but only because we have learned to trust God for everything. Those who trust the Lord are promised never to lack any good thing. (Psalm 34:10)
Psalm 37:3-4 (NLT)
Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will live safely in the land and prosper. Take delight in the Lord and he will give you your heart’s desires.
Prior to our daughter’s wedding day, I was both mother of the bride and wedding planner. On the day of her wedding early that morning, I was in jeans and a t-shirt setting the tables, straightening clothes, filling candy jars and go over every single detail repeatedly. There was a clipboard with a room layout map, schedule of deliveries, and contact list of numbers. I was running all over the place trying to make sure everything was perfect. One of my very best friends was coming to take over the clipboard. She also had done event coordinating and was experienced. We have done events together so I knew she was completely capable. I remember the moment I surrendered it all to her. Why? Because I completely trusted her. That was when I became the mother of the bride which was my greatest calling that day. I think this is what the Lord is after every day of our life even those that are chaotic and out of control. When nothing is turning out as we planned to embrace the fact that God always has a plan. A better one than ours with a future and hope. (Jeremiah 29:11) Trust in the Lord. Every day. All day. Do good. His Word leads us in the right way to live. THEN…hang on…that’s it. Just give it to the Lord…that’s it. Hand over all the worry and stress to His Capable Hands and I am done and ready to thrive and prosper. Yes, it seems silly. But I am convinced this is exactly what the Lord is reminding me to do today to thrive and flourish in His Plan. When we do, we will begin to delight as His Plan unfolds turning out to be better than we could even think to ask for. (Ephesians 3:20) The promise is that He will give us our heart’s desire. We just need to be connected. We just need to be like a tree.
Psalm 91:1-2 (NLT)
Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; He is my God, and I trust him.
Psalm 143:8 (NLT)
Let me hear of your unfailing love each morning for I am trusting you. Show me where to walk for I give myself to you.