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. But not the wicked! They are like worthless chaff, scattered by the wind. They will be condemned at the time of judgment. Sinners will have no place among the godly. For the Lord watches over the path of the godly, but the path of the wicked leads to destruction. (Psalm 1, NLT)
In my youth, I remember having a local man till up a large portion of our yard so we could plant a garden. And, while that meant I wasn't mowing that particular part of the yard, it did lead to other chores such as planting, weeding, and harvesting. It also lead to some tomato wars - but that's a different story entirely. That garden did produce plenty, though I wonder at what cost in the end.
In both the houses we've owned, my wife and I have planted gardens. The efforts have met with very limited success and, in the most recent case, a harvest of absolutely nothing edible. Though we did what we thought we should, the corn grew up sparse and the tomatoes less than useable. About the only creatures who had any of our "bounty" were the mice who live in the field beyond our property. We had planted with a purpose, but the results certainly weren't worth the effort and we've since ceased doing it. Where the garden once didn't grow is now an overgrown brush pile. I'm sure the mice still get the benefit.
In a recent message, my pastor used Psalm 1 and particularly zeroed in on what we have as the third verse. As he spoke, I took notes and knew another entry was forthcoming. If you close your eyes and imagine the vision of this tree, I think you will see what I see and most of what I heard. That tree, planted with specific intent, is pretty special.
It is not an accidental tree by any means. I've had those kind of trees and plants on my properties. Wild-growing Chinese Elms at the Michigan house seemed to spring up anywhere and everywhere. And here, at the North Carolina house, it's wild onions so dense it smells like a hot dog cart when I mow my yard. But the Psalm 1 tree is different - it was selected, cultivated, and placed by the river in a unique position to grow and prosper. There is nothing random about it.
Notice also the specific placement of the tree. It has been located precisely where it needs to be so it will draw strength and sustenance from the nearby river. Unlike my former garden in the far corner of the yard, it is drought resistant with its roots diving deep down into the earth, drawing nutrition from the life-source of that river. As such, it is vibrant and able to bear its fruit in time for harvest - never missing a beat; always producing as it was intended to produce. Its connection to the river brings it long longevity and durability. You will find leaves on it all the time, just as the one who planted it desired when that exact spot was selected.
As I considered the tree and the river, the obvious parallel to our lives and our Savior were clear. He is our Planter and He is also our source of Living Water from Whom we draw our strength and very life. But, as I thought about it, I saw more clearly the relationship we have in Christ. Just like the tree and the river, it becomes a symbiotic relationship that draws a rich life from the Source that has an ultimate purpose. Fulfillment and "success" as a partner of God comes to us, even if the world around us does not understand it or view it as prosperous. It is an intimate, intentional joining where in God doesn't "need" us in the classic sense of the word, but He chooses to "want" us and to use us as an extension of Himself.
As my Crooked Path winds and turns, rises and falls, I am reminded that God has chosen be with great intent and personal commitment. He has planted me so that I can draw life from Christ and never be concerned about my future. He has removed me from my past and promised life and prosperity beyond what I can imagine, even if it doesn't look like it to anybody else. He asks me to trust Him to provide, and trust is what I must do. I'm not an accident - I'm an intentional work of the Creator, planted with purpose.
- Does your life feel random and out of control? Are you having difficulty seeing and understanding what is going on in and around you?
- If you look at your "roots", do you find they dig deep down and find the Lift that Christ alone can give? Or do you find them to be shallow and lacking in that way?
- Is your relationship with God personal and intentional? Do you believe that He has His eye and hand on you, and that you are not where you are by accident? Are you ready to give yourself over to His purpose?