This past Sabbath, while the sun was just coming up, I went for a stroll on the sidewalk by my home. At the intersection of Midland Drive and Blackfish Parkway the sidewalk heads into the woods. I was feeling a bit artistic and decided to take some videos in a feeble attempt to capture the beauty of the trail and Little Mill Creek in the early morning light. Pausing to look at my subjects through a different lens, it dawned on me that the trees were growing away from one another and leaning over the trail and over the creek, stretching for the light. On the banks of the creek you could see roots reaching for the water as well.
You’ve likely noticed the same phenomenon. Younger trees that grow up in the shadows of old-timers often grow in strange directions and shapes in a desperate search for sun, while trees that have all the space they need tend to grow straight up. Trees close to a water source thrive.
Jeremiah 17:5-8 speaks to these kinds of realities and applies them to our relationship with God.
This is what the Lord says:
“Cursed is the one who trusts in man,
who draws strength from mere flesh
and whose heart turns away from the Lord.
That person will be like a bush in the wastelands;
they will not see prosperity when it comes.
They will dwell in the parched places of the desert,
in a salt land where no one lives.
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.”
A similar comparison is made in Psalm 1:1-3
Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
There is much that you cannot control in your life, where you were planted, born, whom you were born to etc, but you my dear reader have the power to choose in the things that matter the most. You can stretch for the light by prioritizing the word of God, meditating on it, delighting in it. You can reach for the waters by trusting in the Lord and abiding with Him through an ongoing conversation in prayer. If you depend on people above God the light you need to thrive will be crowded out and you will come up dry. You need your own space in God’s light and by His stream. You need room to grow straight towards the heavens and produce fruit that will bless the world around you.
How will you prioritize practicing the presence of God by connecting through Scripture and prayer? Do you need to join me in going to the Bible and prayer before going to the notifications or favorite social media apps on your phone? Do you need to set limits or get accountability from a trusted person to cut down on distractions and carve out time for what you know is better for you. Do you need Sabbath rest to commune with and feel the care of God? You are His beloved. Don’t let that reality get crowded out of your mind.
We all have the same 24 hours every day. You, me, the president, the best athletes and entertainers and evangelists, everybody. How will we choose to spend the precious minutes we have? Choose what Your Creator and Redeemer says gives life. You won’t regret it. You will be blessed and you will be a blessing, you will find enough room to grow as You choose to abide in Jesus moment by moment.