Make like a tree and leaf

Did anybody go outside to watch the “supermoon” come up last night? We did. My folks came out and we watched it rise. I can’t say it looked a whole lot bigger than it normally did, but it was startlingly red. Then, it decided to go behind some clouds and we couldn’t see it anymore. But waiting for it to rise was interesting.

I am always amazed at all the sounds you can hear outside if you just listen for them. I live out in the middle of nowhere so there’s no city noise. So you can hear the wind blowing a rusty-hinged gate a mile away. And you can hear the chug-chug of the enging running the oil derrick a couple of miles away. And you can hear packs of coyotes howling in the distance. But the loudest sound that pretty much overrules everything (if it’s not a car driving down the blacktop) is the wind in the trees. A rushing, whispering sound, it silences most other noises until the wind lets up.

I love trees, and it’s sad that we don’t have a lot of trees in Kansas in comparison to other states. They make it easy to spot a road or a house or a creek or river from a distance though. It’s unusual to see a tree standing off in a field by itself. Usually, a tree will grow either because it’s been cared for or because its location provides it with everything it needs to flourish. Kind of like in an oasis. You don’t see lone trees in the desert unless they’re at an oasis where they can get plenty of water.

I’ve already rambled on longer than I’d intended to this morning. What I’m trying to say is that a tree planted beside a river never has to worry about running out of water. It can be unbearably hot. The air could be dry. But the tree will still have access to what keeps it strong and healthy and productive.

It’s the same with us and our relationship with God.

Jeremiah 17:7-8

7 “But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
      and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
 8 They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
      with roots that reach deep into the water.
   Such trees are not bothered by the heat
      or worried by long months of drought.
   Their leaves stay green,
      and they never stop producing fruit.

At first I thought the reference was wrong because it made me think of Psalm 1:2-3.

2 But they delight in the law of the Lord,
      meditating on it day and night.
 3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank,
      bearing fruit each season.
   Their leaves never wither,
      and they prosper in all they do.

But they’re obviously different. It’s just God using two different writers hundreds of years apart to say the same thing. And when God takes the trouble to repeat something, it’s a good idea to listen.

Trees can grow without being planted beside a river, but if they aren’t they have to get their water from somewhere else. They have to rely on rain or human care. Well, what happens when it doesn’t rain enough? Or what happens if people don’t take care of them? And, those of us in Kansas know about weather issues. What happens to a fruit tree in a hailstorm? Or what if we have another April or May blizzard (I’m not exaggerating)? All its fruit is destroyed.

The comparison between trees and people is so clear, so perfect.

If you trust God, you’ll be like the tree planted at the riverside. You’ll have everything you need to survive — and not just survive but flourish — even when everything goes wrong. When you lose your job. When you lose your family. When nothing makes sense. When people let you down. If you trust God, that confident hope you have in Him will see you through any difficulty. People relying on their own strength will wither and dry up. And though you may not be surviving in the best circumstances, you’ll still be at peace if you trust God.

And, what’s more, God will be able to use you. Even when it seems like your life is spinning out of control, if you can hold on to God and His promises and trust that He knows what He’s doing, He will take your faith and use it to accomplish something amazing.

Trees have it easy. It’s not like they can move. They can’t decide one day that they don’t want to be planted by a river anymore and the next day get up and change locations. We do that all the time, deciding that God can’t be trusted and following our own ideas or opinions. We need to be like a tree. Planted. Solid. Rooted. So deep in God that we can’t move away from Him, that we can’t help but trust Him.

All God wants is our trust. That really is all that He wants. It’s all He’s asking for. And it’s all we need. Unfortuately, though, with my stupid human pride, it’s the hardest thing for me to give. Because I really think I know better most of the time (I know I don’t, but try convincing my deceitful heart of that). So it’s a daily struggle for me to stop trying to figure things out and stop trying to plan everything and just let Him do what He wants to do.

But what’s nice about that is if you’ve left Him, we can always come back. You don’t have to prove yourself to God. He already knows your heart and your motivation, and if you truly desire to come back to Him and trust Him, He knows. And He’s more than happy to give us a another chance, no matter if it’s a second chance or a forty-second chance.