|“He shall be like a tree planted by streams |
of water, which yields its fruit in
season and whose leaf does not wither.”
Trees fascinate me. I love the variety, the shapes, the different leaves, and how the trees and leaves look in different seasons. Trees have often seemed like major décor in God’s world—decorating and defining space, shading, and quietly fluttering in the breeze.
I am impressed that, often, the Scriptural writers use trees to teach us, to describe a characteristic, and to liken the trees to some quality in our lives. In the verse at the beginning of this blog post, we see the offspring of a healthy tree: leaves and fruit. Often these elements supply life-sustaining food for humankind and animals. They also give evidence to us of health, strength, usefulness, and beauty.
Yet, we don’t often see the most important part of the tree because that part lies deep underground. In a healthy specimen, more than half of a tree remains beneath the surface of the ground. There, it reaches out for nourishment from the soil and for deep springs of life-giving water.
Trees that have stunted roots, those that grow quickly and sprout early, often do not have the stabilizing power of those that have grown over many years. Jesus uses this principle in His well-known “Parable of the Sower” found in Matthew 13:5, when He teaches about the farmer’s seed:
Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root.
Our growth in grace follows a similar timeline. God plants His Spirit in us. But, God wants to grow us deeply into the “soil” of His written Word wherein we will grow in our knowledge of, and relationship with, Him and His church.
We must not look for our Christian lives, or our churches, or our ministries to “spring up overnight.” Rather, we must allow time, difficulties, and the seasons of life to develop God’s process of deeply rooted spiritual growth.
Seeds of vegetation scattered on a soil with rocky places will spring up quickly and die off quickly because they haven’t grown deep roots into the nourishing soil. Likewise, our personal spiritual formation that develops too rapidly with unnatural enthusiasm and without putting deep “roots” into God’s written Word, without cultivating faithfulness to a local church, and without spending time with mature fellow Christians will ultimately run the risk of burning out and of failing to produce useful spiritual fruit.
Instead, let’s find a beautiful large tree. And, let’s think of the seasons of its life and how deeply the roots must have reached. Then, let’s allow God to mature us spiritually in the same way. We must remain patient and look forward to the sweet fruit and beautiful leaves which will surely appear.