There was a woman at church that I secretly watched for many years. I don’t think she ever knew how she influenced me. She was always at peace, always had something kind to say and even when they seemed to being going through the most difficult financial times, she would be fine. Smiling, always joyful, she was radiant! She worked hard in church; was well liked; people would ask her for advice! She served with a good attitude, provided for those in need and drew people like a magnet. In short, she was what I would describe as truly beautiful!
Determined to know her secret, I watched her! I sat behind her in church, eavesdropped on her conversations, I examined her clothing. When people spoke about her, I would listen, to hear what she said, waiting for some explanation as to how I could become like her. Finally I asked God to reveal her secret. How could I become a woman like that? He showed me two passages which I translated for me:
Psalm 1:3 “she is like a tree planted by streams of water which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever she does prospers.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 “she is like a tree planted by that water that sent out its root by the stream. She does not fear when heat comes, her leaves are always green. She has no worries in the year of drought and she never fails to bear fruit.”
So how does one become a she-tree like that? Psalm 1 said that “her delight was in the law of the Lord, and on His law she meditates day and night.” In other words she spent time in the word of God, not just reading, but meditating on what it had to say. Jeremiah 17 said that she “trusts in the Lord and is confident in Him.”
I knew her secret: She was rooted in the Lord and in His Word.
What does it mean to be rooted in the Lord?
- Her public person was matched by her private roots. I have a Tipiana tree in my back yard that is easily 50 meters tall and it dominates our garden and that of our neighbours. I am fascinated by its size because I was once told that when it comes to trees: the width and height of the tree is matched by the actual depth and width of the roots. Which is why when you chop off branches, a large roots system allows it to grow more branches quite quickly, but disturb the roots of a tree and it may die off, or slow down in it’s growth or production. A tree is only as strong as it’s roots. Similarly, a person with a strong public life is matched by the roots that life is built on. When hard times or testing comes, it is the roots of that life that will determine its survival.
- Her roots were nurtured and fed – she has spent time strengthening them, feeding them with the promises of God and building her life upon them. She had done the great exchange of growing, exchanging her thinking for God’s truth. She had spent the time growing her roots of understanding in scripture, knowing that from these she was building the rest of her life. She had spent the time nurturing and feeding her spiritual person.
- Her roots are storing, they are a reservoir for life-giving water. She had stored promises, which she understood in her heart. So when seasons changed, she was not afraid of scorching heat, she had enough of God’s word in her reservoir, enough of His promises and understanding of His love to sustain her through difficult times. She had a resource in God, real living water that would keep her spiritually alive in times of difficulty.
- She bears fruit faithfully, in and out of season. She had enough of God inside of her for herself and for others as well. Out of her fullness, her reservoir of hope and strength in Him, she was able to bear fruit of love, kindness, joy, encouragement, wisdom and peace to others. She did not get depleted, finished, tired, discouraged, instead she was able to go from “strength to strength” (Ps 84:7) always having something for those around her.
- Her roots are her support – she was not top heavy, only focusing on her public life, what people thought of her, what people could see. She did not need to be staked up, tied up, propped up, straightened up by other people, until the next wind comes and she is blown over again. Instead her roots are healthy: no wind, nor hard time can blow her down.
It is also interesting to note that trees that can withstand wind are used for tasks that require great strength e.g. trees that grow on top of mountains are used as masts on ships. So the stronger she was, the more God was able to use her for important tasks in His kingdom, like influencing me, a young daughter in the Lord, to start working on my own root system. To get out my bible, start studying and nurturing my roots, doing my ‘great exchange’ so that I too could become the she-tree described in scripture.
Father, help me to focus on growing the “roots” of my life and not what people see on the outside. Help me be disciplined in spending time in Your Word, growing and understanding. Help me to store your promises in my heart and to have something extra for others.
For more posts like this see:
Watering Your Spiritual Garden
A Vital Personal Discipline
Five Obstacles to Spiritual Growth