Sunday, June 14, 2009

Lord, I Want to be Like a Tree!

Okay, at first, that may sound like an odd request but the Lord often relates our lives to the growth of a tree. There's Psalm 1 that says when we meditate on the Word of God and trust His counsel He blesses us as a tree planted by streams of water - healthy trees - bringing forth fruit in season. Or there's Isaiah 61:3 that says that the Lord came to make us into oaks of righteousness, a planting for the display of His splendor.

I LOVE both of these passages! What an awesome picture! I even have a favorite tree! I like to tell the Lord that I'm so glad He planted it just for me! It is magnificent! It towers over other trees, that if seen on their own, look pretty amazing themselves. The trunk is so sturdy and strong and its' leaves offer such wonderful shade and shelter. I love it! The Lord has used this particular tree to teach me many things over the years, especially during life's strong winds and storms. Often, He has reminded me to choose Him and His Word and that when the winds once again subside, I'll be stronger... because I'm rooted in Him.

This week, one of the passages that I was taken to was Ephesians 3:16-21.

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

I praise the Lord for new layers of understanding! We were challenged to draw a tree and consider its' roots. How far did our roots go down into the LOVE of God? The Lord took me on a google tangent... He wanted to show me some more about roots. It shouldn't surprise us that young, immature trees send out their roots just under the soil. They require consistent rain to water them and they are greatly influenced by the elements. Their roots act as tethers but they will never grow into grand, mature trees if they don't develop sinker roots. A sinker root plummets deep into the soil of the earth. There were a fair amount of interesting facts listed in various research papers but one phrase struck me profoundly. Sinker roots enable the tree to avoid drought not endure drought!

Life happens. Storms come. Winds blow and seasons of drought are inevitable. My roots need to be anchored deeply into the love of God for me. When I know - really know - that His love for me is unconditional and that nothing can separate me from that love, I can weather the elements because in Him I can be lavishly nourished and soul-satisfied! Praise His Name! Now that's a love worth expending energy grasping! Wouldn't you agree?

Just Thoughts...

A couple of different verses have been wafting through my mind these last weeks and as I've been turning them over, they have begun to resonate in new ways.

The first verse is...

I will call upon the LORD, Who is to be praised; so shall I be saved from my enemies. (Psalm 18:3 Amplified)

It has registered that I'm to call on the LORD when I'm pursued by the enemy, but somehow, that simple phrase in the middle and the accompanying "so" had escaped my attention. "Who is to be praised" is telling me how to call. When the enemy is pushing in on me, when I'm feeling hard-pressed on every side, I'm to call upon the LORD in praise! I thought on that a little more. When I choose praise, I am choosing to acknowledge that He is God - I am not - and I can trust Him to save me in His time and His way. Praise lifts my eyes from the enemy to the Savior.

The Name of the LORD is a strong tower; the righteous run to it and are safe. (Proverbs 18:10)

This verse has also taken on new meaning, especially in light of Psalm 18:3. I've practiced that when I realize my thoughts are contrary to what the LORD would want them to be, to call upon the Name of Jesus. It has helped me a lot but once again, I have come to learn that I was only applying a portion of this Word of God. "The righteous run to it" and are safe. When my thoughts are going astray, it's a great start to call upon the Name of the LORD, but then I need to follow that up with acknowledging where I am in relation to where He is and then RUN to Him! That's where the safety lies! It's not enough to just call out His Name. When we see that He is wanting us to go one direction and we've taken a look, or steps, down another, we need to get moving in His direction! Add the two verses together and we see that as the enemy pursues us, we need to stop, call out, acknowledge His way, command, direction is Sovereign and then make haste to follow in His footsteps!

I think this is what the Apostle Paul was talking about in 2 Corinthians 10:3-5. We live in a fallen world and the enemy and our own evil desires seek to entice away but at the first realization that trouble approaches, call upon the Name of the LORD, acknowledging His Lordship and Sovereignty and then, no matter what our emotions, desires, or earthly pressures might be pressing on us, RUN to His position and way of thinking as He outlines in His Word. That's taking our thoughts captive in obedience to Christ. Calling out without further action is only the first step in the process.

LORD, I hear You say that whoever has Your commands AND OBEYS them, he is the one who loves You. I desire to love You with all of my heart, all of my mind, with all of my soul and with all of my strength but sometimes pressures push hard in the opposite direction. Please help me to remember that Your Name, Your Word and the power of praise are powerful weapons available for victory. No matter what I may feel or desire, may I run to You and follow in Your footsteps for in them, there is great safety! In YOUR NAME Jesus, I ask it... Amen.