A Tree Planted Next to a Stream

A Tree Planted Next to a Stream

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

A series on being deeply rooted must start with a scripture about plants. How could it not? These verses in Jeremiah are pretty well known and I can see why. It’s a beautiful illustration of a life fueled by God. Who doesn’t love trees, water, and fruitful prosperity?

In Jeremiah 17, God was calling the people of Judah out for their sin. They had an idol problem. This problem was so great that parents were sacrificing their children on altars like the pagan nations who worshiped false gods.

God said to them in verses 5 and 6, “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”

God was warning them that idol worship is not where security and prosperity originate. Good things come from God the Creator. When man turns from God, he turns from his light source. It’s just how it goes. Man on his own in the dark is a bad thing. Has anyone seen Law and Order? People living outside of God just get progressively chaotic and dark. It happens today and it happened back then. Every person needs God so that they can step into the light. We won’t do it naturally.

After God’s reminder to Judah about the emptiness of a man that worships himself, He gives the picture of a man that trusts God:

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”

It is through trust in God that man receives security and prosperity. In the Old Testament, it looked like this:

Obedience = land, large families, food in abundance, lots of oxen, sheep, goats (wealth)
Disobedience = war, pestilence (more than just bug problems), and famine (poverty)

The Israelites were under a conditional agreement with God. If they obeyed Him, they would receive blessings and if they disobeyed Him, they would receive curses. This was not because God was some kind of egotistical deity on a power trip. God truly knew what was best for Israel.

The conditional agreement is not how it goes anymore. We are under a new deal because of Jesus Christ’s fulfillment of that covenant. Our agreement with God is unconditional love and guaranteed salvation because of Jesus’ obedience. It has nothing to do with our works. In this new deal, we have been given the Holy Spirit as our downpayment of the life in God’s presence that is to come.

I think that the words spoken to Jeremiah back then are still true today but through the lens of our New Covenant with God. A difference between the shrub and the tree in the Jeremiah 17 illustration is placement. The shrub is in the desert and the tree is by a stream. They both experience harsh weather conditions, but the tree continues to be fruitful because of where it is planted.

In codependency terms, I’d like to call this a perspective change. Where is your mind planted? Feelings and actions begin with the intellect. Placing trust in God dissolves fear and anxiety because your thoughts are positively set on the provision and care of God. The tree was planted next to a stream and received all it needed for the heat and drought. Placing your trust in God doesn’t mean your life circumstances necessarily change, it just means you possess what many search for outside of God but can’t find: Peace. Prosperity. Security.

If you are a Christian, you have everything you need through God’s provision. He knows what you need and He will take care of you. It may not be in the way you think, but personally, I find that it’s always better and much more fascinating than what I would have done.

It’s easy to say “trust in the Lord” and much harder to do when you’re not so sure if He is who He claims to be. My suggestion is if you feel you don’t know God or don’t trust what you do know… seek Him further. Ask questions. Figure out what your perception of God is and ask why. Is it true? How do you know? Ask God to show you He is trustworthy. You’ll see it more and more as you’re looking for it.

God has given us creation, His word, His Son, and the Holy Spirit. He wants to be known by you. Plant yourself in Him and enjoy the adventure! A life with God brings joy and peace. It’s so much fun and there’s nothing I would recommend more highly.

 

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