"For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its roots by the river, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green, and will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will cease from yielding fruit." Jeremiah 17:8 (NKJV)
Steady. Firm. Strong. Unyeilding. Unwavering. All of which I felt the exact opposite of. But I desired a steadfast spirit. I longed to have the strength to stand firm in who I was in Christ. I wanted to run the race without looking to my right or to my left at the distractions of the world. I was tired of my own sin getting in the way of going deeper in my relationship with God. I wanted that deep trust that soothed my anxiety and prevented me from true rest.
One day I came across the verse above. It was one of those verses that I claimed as my own. It was hope. It was my promise from the Lord of what I could be. It was the life I wanted, free of fear and my own anxious thoughts about things I could not control.
But circumstances of life and relationships left me feeling like a tree that had been cut down to the stump.
I had been a Christian for 25 years and I was confident in my salvation. I had roots deep enough to prevent me from being utterly destroyed in the fires and droughts of life.
But this season was different.
I lost that me-centered inner strength I had been dependent on for so long. God wanted more of me, so He allowed my self-made strength to burn in the fire until only a remnant was left. A stump.
But the roots were still there from the seeds that the Lord planted in my life throughout those 25 years.
He wanted to make me new, to stand tall in the righteousness that only comes when the Lord intervenes in despair, strips that spirit of heaviness and clothes with a garment of praise, so that He may be glorified.
God brought Job down to the stump, too. And in his despair he prayed, "For there is hope for a tree, if it is cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its tender shoots will not cease. Though its root may grow old in the earth, and its stump may die in the ground, yet at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant." Job 14:7-9
I got to the end of self-sufficiency. It wasn't working anymore. I had nothing left standing and only one option left.
Jesus commanded that we love Him with ALL of our heart. I had never done that before. It was a long and painful process to get to a place of complete surrender. But I learned that God is love, and if I was going to completely surrender, I needed to understand what this love really was.
After months of peeling self-protective layers off my own heart I was ready. Ready to receive God, to receive love.
Through that process, my roots that were already in Christ began to sense that a stream of living water was near and my soul was desperate to dig deeper to find it. In digging deeper, I found hope. And through grace, the Lord began to grow me up again, to bud and bring forth branches that will yield fruit in its season. (Psalm 1:3)
"It was majestic in beauty, with its spreading boughs, for its roots went down to abundant waters." Ezekiel 31:7 (NIV)
The Lord isn't done with me, just like He isn't done with you. He desires that we go deeper everyday in His word, in prayer, in worship. In the end, when I am old, wrinkled and bent, I want people to see that majestic beauty of the Lord in my life.
How can you go deeper today? Let us both find time to rest in His presence. There we will find hope, peace and strength in this season.
have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ. . . "