Blessed is the one
who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
or sit in the company of mockers,
but whose delight is in the law of the Lord,
and who meditates on his law day and night.
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.
Not so the wicked!
They are like chaff
that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked leads to destruction. ~ Psalm 1
This Psalm is on my heart this week, thanks largely to a podcast I was listening to by Patricia King (listen here if you so desire), about becoming a tree. If we root ourselves in Him, and drink of the Living Water that is Him, we will always bear fruit. Always. And our leaves will never wither. What an amazing life that looks like!
Sometimes, of course, this seems like a tall order. I don’t know about you but I tend to have a “hindsight is 20/20” viewpoint sometimes. I get caught up in my daily existence in NY. I get bogged down in dodging bikers, double and triple parked vans, errant pedestrians, and don’t even get me started on the taxis. I want to pour out on all of these people. At least, here at home while sitting at my computer, of course I want to pour out on all these people. In the moment though, when you’re speeding past me, my main thought is jumping out of the way of the puddle you’re splashing all over me. Some days I’m more successful at keeping a Christ-like perspective. But not every day, not all the time.
This is why this Psalm ministers to my heart so much. Patricia King touches on it too in that podcast – not every tree is huge and strong with these big rigid trunks. Some trees are small. They’re tender. Their trunks are flexible and their leaves flutter. Some trees bend a bit in the breeze. Does this mean they can’t be feeding from the living water? Of course not. They are still beautiful, still rooted – and still fruitful. Some days I’m the kind of tree that every kid wants to hang a tire swing from or build a treehouse on. I’m so full of Jesus that I have no problem praying for that person on the subway. I have no problem stopping to love on a homeless person (and no that does not mean dropping some spare change into their palm and walking off!). Other days….I’m more like a ficus. One stiff breeze and I feel like I’m blowing over. Forget standing with Him for miracles – on these days I barely get prayer time in and dishes cleaned! On these less productive days, I sometimes feel like a waste of Christianity (ok I’m being dramatic. I probably don’t feel THAT badly about myself, but I certainly don’t feel fruitful either). But I can take heart in this fact: if I’m in Him, I am still bearing fruit. It doesn’t always look the same every day, and it’s nice to know it doesn’t have to. I’m still ‘rooted’.
Also, being rooted in Him means your leaves never wither. Do you know what that means? It means you can go through a transition period. You can have changes in your life – times of trial don’t affect your God-given destiny or keep you from blossoming. How cool is that?
The flip side, of course, is to be like the chaff. The Psalm basically say that if you’re not a tree, you’re the chaff. Chaff, for you non-farmer types, is basically a husk. It’s a dry scaly casing that goes around grains. It’s largely useless, it’s indigestible to humans (I think they do chop it up in certain animal feed though), and it has to be removed before the grains can be used. This is done by ‘threshing’ (read: milling, or pounding, the grain to loosen the chaff). Once you do this, the loose chaff can be removed by ‘winnowing’ – this means repeatedly tossing grains into a light wind so the loose chaff can blow away. Now you know the exact analogy the Psalm is making when they talk about the chaff blowing away. And here you thought you wouldn’t learn anything today!
Why is this important? Well, because it shows just how stubborn the chaff is – how stubborn wickedness can be. It can encase itself around us pretty quickly. And once it’s there, getting rid of it isn’t always easy. I mean the chaff has to literally get beaten off the nutritious grain. Now, I can think of several things I’d like to do today – going through a spiritual beating isn’t one of them. Best to just find a way to be in Him every day, be it pouring out onto others or taking care of my home. It’s also encouraging though – because we are sometimes called to shed things within us that aren’t of God, and it’s usually done by bringing us through a time of trial (sometimes a spiritual “threshing” is unavoidable!). In the end, when we’ve cried our tears and submitted our burdens and allowed God in to heal, the bad stuff He threshed off of us? It doesn’t cling to us anymore. It’s not part of us. It’s so loose that a light wind can carry it away. If that’s not encouraging I don’t know what is!
I leave you all with an encouragement to be in Him today. Find a way to drink of the Living Water, today and every day. Some days you might be a mighty oak. Some days you might be a shrub. But find a way to be rooted in Him, to drink of Him anyway. Even if it’s just to repent how UN-Christlike you’ve been that day! Allow Him in and He will ensure your endeavors bear fruit.
God bless! And, a BIG thanks to Rebekah L who helped me with a few technical issues regarding the format of this post – if you think it’s a long one now you should’ve seen the original version!