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.

 

The Discipline of Self Care

The Discipline of Self Care

Recently, I had a health issue flare up. I won’t give you all the gruesome details, but I will tell you that it was disgusting and life changing. The worst part is that it was preventable. I neglected the issue originally and let it grow into a big problem.

This particular health issue came to be about a year and a half into my codependency recovery. I was working at a particularly stressful job and could not find the time to get it checked out. When I left that job and started a new one, I had it looked at by a doctor and was prescribed a cream (you trying to guess what the issue is? 😛 ). After I got the cream, I went back to my life and, guess what, my new job wasn’t as emotionally stressful, but it was time consuming. And! It was very hard to find coverage for my position. So, needless to say, it was not easy to leave for a follow up doctor visit.

I worked that job for a little over a year and the health issue remained but it was very tame. Sometimes I would go for long periods without really noticing it. You get used to health issues sometimes… they become your new normal. In codependency, many miseries are normal: The fog of confusion as you try to make decisions about jobs, relationships, and boundaries. The chaotic state of your environment. The poor health of your body. The lack of true intimacy with those who care about you. Your view of God.

All these elements are part of living in survival mode with your codependency. If you are throwing all your chips into one category of life, the rest are going to get neglected. That’s just the way it is. There are five basic pieces that create a balanced life: relationships, work, spirituality, physical health, and mental health.

In my case, work was overtaking the other elements of my life. It was consuming so much of my time and energy that my physical health got neglected. An issue was allowed to remain and fester. When my health was compromised, all my energies went to regaining my physical health. Then! The other elements were being neglected because all my focus was on the physical! It can become an exhausting cycle of putting out fires.

This cycle can be portrayed in other ways, as well. Work life crazy can cause neglect in all areas (not just the physical). If you are consumed with work, that means time for relationships is put to the side, your living environment might become a little messy and chaotic, your physical appearance roughens up, your soul starts feeling like a desert, and your mental capacities are just about to run out. These signs may all seem very obvious, but in codependency, that’s not necessarily the case. These issues can become so normal in our survival mode mentality that we don’t even notice them. The screams for order become muted and we trudge on in our misery. What may be very obvious to others can be invisible to the codependent in crisis mode.

Another way life unbalance has affected me in the past was when I would be obsessively focused on a romantic relationship (or desire for a romantic relationship). The drive to have my Disney fantasies come true would steer me away from investing in other friendships and engaging in my life. How could I care about my career or hobbies when I had a relationship to bring to fruition?? Where could I find the time or desire to stop and respect God’s leading? What if He didn’t want what I wanted for myself?

Putting too much emphasis on relationships will lead to neglect of other important areas: like the spiritual. What could be more important than listening to God? But! When a codependent becomes entranced in a fantasy, it’s hard to see past the highs and lows of interactions with that significant other. Obsessive thinking can set in and, when that does happen, say bye-bye to the rational. Everything in life, besides that special person, becomes an afterthought.

Codependency is a dangerous cycle that brings chaos. God has great plans for you in all areas of life… not just a career, not just a relationship, not just school, not just you fill in the blank. If you evaluate your life and decide that one area is getting more attention than the others or if you feel that your life brings a chaotic presence, seek counsel. Go to God as best as you know Him and discuss everything with Him. See a counselor or talk to someone you trust. Living a life of balance feels good! When we become too focused on one area of life, it is easy to make that our god. Giving away the place of God undercuts His power in your life. It says you believe something else can provide you what you need. However, nothing can love and provide like God.

Refocus and go to Him with your life and your calendar. After my health issue, I did some serious reevaluation. So due to that change, I’m thankful I went through what I did. It brought me closer to God and taught me a valuable lesson. Would I want to do it again? Absolutely not and I pray I never have to. But I’ll take my lessons and walk with God to the next adventure. It’s a good life He has blessed all of us with and there’s a lot to be thankful for.