1 Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;Psalm 1
2 but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night.
3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous;
6 for the LORD knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.
My daddy was good man. His life was complicated on many levels, but he loved the simplicity of a rural life. He wasn’t perfect, but he was more than good enough for me. Even though he would never admit it, he was an amazing teacher in the lessons of life. While I may not have taken those lessons and applied them well in my younger years, they took root and bore fruit in their own season.
One of the many lessons I learned from our life in the country is about trees. We grew up in a small town called Pine Grove, LA – a name owed to the abundance of pine trees that crowded the countryside, occasionally greeted by the great strong oak and the beautiful dogwood blossoms. Annually we would hunker down and prepare for the hurricane season which would inevitably bring torrential storms of wind and rain ore from the Gulf Coast.
If you want to know what a tree is made of, all you have to do is look to its fruit and observe how it responds to the storms. Pine tree roots burrow deep into the ground, anchoring into the soil and branching out to absorb the nutrients it needs to grow tall. The deeper the roots, the taller the tree and the stronger it will be to stand the test of the winds. Properly nourished, the tree will bend in the strongest of winds, but rarely break. On the other hand, the strong majestic oak has a shallow root system, but is equally strong by spread wide with heavy branches, grabbing hold to everything it can to support the tree and it grows shorter, but wider and sturdier. Both produce an abundant harvest of fruit and seed – pine cones and acorns – that produce a new generation of growth. Seasonally each will lose its leaves and needles, only to grow then anew each spring.
Both the oak and the pine are created in a way to withstand the storms. However when either tree is improperly nourished or is infected with disease, the pine tree will wither, bend, and snap. The oak tree likewise will have its roots weaken and a strong enough wind will uproot and blow it over. In each case, the tree no longer grows its leaves and slowly dies and withers to grey – useless, barren, and crumbling under their own weight.
In life, we are built much the same – created by God to withstand the storms of life. We can bend but not break under the strain of the winds. We can survive the fires and overcome the rains. We can even be a shelter for others to survive the storms as we gather other under our branches. However, when we choose to be malnourished and feed ourselves on lesser nourishments, we compromise our health and our ability to survive the storms when they inevitably come our way. It’s all a question of choosing what kind of tree you are going to be and being nourished accordingly.
The Word of God is the ultimate nourishment for our souls. It is described as milk, bread, meat, and water throughout as an illustration of the nourishing benefits of our consumption and meditation upon His word. Scripture over and over again compares and contrasts life experienced in obedience to God’s Word and disobedience to His word and the benefits or consequences of both.
About 40 years ago, dad and I planted three pine trees in our side yard that still stand today and the one in the middle stands the tallest. 2000 years ago, The Father planted three trees on a hillside in Israel outside of Jerusalem, and the one in the middle stood the tallest. Upon that tree, hung his Son as a sacrifice for us all in order that we might come to know Him and be reconciled to Him and experience a new life – renewed and bearing fruit that produces an abundant harvest of life and joy.
Thank you, dad, for teaching me how to be a tree. Thank you for choosing me as your son. I will never forget how you grew me to be a tree. You gave me strong roots. You helped me to learn how to weather the storms of life. I only pray the fruit and seed that I produce has made you proud.