Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.
I love those verses. So much. It is probably my all time favorite visual illustration in the Bible. The lush tree growing so tall and green by the river.
I’ve been reading Jeremiah the past couple of weeks and read through chapter 17 yesterday. Today as I opened back up to Jeremiah, I saw my doodle in the margins and have been remembering the verse all day. I’ve been praying for something to write – and more importantly, to feel passion from the Lord to have something to write about. Just waiting for something to click and send my fingertips running over the keys.
And the Lord spoke. Cause that’s what he does.
You guys know all the fuss about container gardening, right? I mean, it is really neat. We would love to have a garden in our yard. We kind of planned for one and then mapped out the areas with the most sunlight. Yeah… not really any. We’re blessed with a shady yard thanks to some good ole’ Carolina pines. But no area of our yard gets 6 hours of sunshine… except a few hot spots here and there. So we’ve looked into container gardening a little bit, trying to think of what we should grow that we use the most. But then again, who am I kidding? We’re doing good to cut the grass once a month. (Sorry, neighbors.)
As I was washing dishes and reflecting on that verse, “like a tree planted by water,” I thought about container gardens. You can grow a fruit tree in a container, ya know! So what if we were a tree in a container and were placed right beside the river?
I think we are. At least, I know I can be. And likely you’ve been there, too.
What does that mean… analogically speaking? We live our lives close to or near the things we know to be edifying. The things we know to grow us. We go to church, we serve, we attend Bible study, prayer meetings. Maybe we even lead some outreach projects in the community.
But our faith, our spirit, our vulnerability is stuck in a container. We wall ourselves off and only put into our container what we’re looking to gain. We get close enough to Jesus to grab some of his nourishment, but we don’t let the roots of our soul penetrate his territory. It has to be done on our turf. We become the controllers of our growth.
Which makes life pretty easy, right? When things get uncomfortable, we just take them out of the container. Or when we’re walking through something difficult, we grab some extra fuel from above.
When a tree is planted by the water, it’s growth is solely determined by the water. The roots are growing deeper and deeper, becoming more and more drenched in the only thing it needs. A tree planted in a container has to rely on the gardener (or perhaps rainfall) to fill it up. Maybe the gardener adds some fertilizer to make it grow really fast and big. Maybe some protective mulch that keeps bugs out.
According to this article, there are many great reasons to start your own container garden. Some favorites are:
- It’s easy.
- It’s convenient.
- It’s flexible.
- It’s protective.
- It’s FAST.
- It’s customizable.
Are we looking for those results in our walk? Are we choosing to be spiritually contained because it’s so much easier than letting the Lord control when/how he grows us? Are we contained because convictions, and sanctification isn’t always convenient (like at work, in the midst of family, during football season, at girl’s night, etc.)?
Are we looking for a personalized, changeable faith that can be whatever, wherever, and whenever we need it? Do we rely on the “additives” (relationships, career success, kids, substances, social media fame) to boost us when we are not drawing from the stream of living water?
I’m so convicted by this. I know there are times when I suppress the Spirit intentionally because it’s at an uncomfortable moment in the conversation or because I don’t want to cry, or whatever. I try to avoid awkward moments when possible, though I sometimes introduce myself saying, “I’m Rachel. I’ve been making things awkward since 1988.” But most of the time, that’s on accident. 🙂
I think for me, I like to keep myself contained simply because I like control. I lie to myself and believe that I know myself good enough to handle it. But of course I don’t. The Master knows. He planted me. And I like to just take my roots and stick them in a cute container so that they can grow in a safe place, where everything is predictable.
But what happens in a container garden? The growth is limited. The roots can only grow as large as the space of the container. So you have to keep switching into a bigger container. And a bigger container. And if you don’t, it won’t keep growing.
The Lord’s plan for us is to grow large. To be lush and full, and fruit bearing. He doesn’t want that on a small scale. Not even a big small. He wants it on HIS scale. And that is so much more than we can fathom and certainly much more than any object can contain.
You can set your container as close as you want to the river. But until your roots have unobstructed access to the water, you might as well keep it in your living room.