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Posts Tagged ‘Psalm 1:3’

Jo 17I almost did not go to the service that Sunday. It was a cold morning and the church where my husband was to speak was some distance away. On top of that, we knew many would be absent, given it was school holiday time. Still, I should go, I decided in the end.

When we arrived, the young woman who greeted us seemed harassed, so we asked if we could do anything to help.

‘I think we’ll be right,’ she smiled. ‘I’ve organised most things—the music’s ready and someone’s rostered on to play guitar at least.’

‘Well, I haven’t played the piano for a service for years, but I probably could if you were desperate!’ I laughed.

And yes, you’ve guessed it! Just before the service was to begin, a text message came through that their one available musician could not come. I gulped. I had meant my comment as a joke—but it seemed God had other plans!

In the end, I was no match for the pleading look on our young friend’s face—or for the tempting prospect of playing on this church’s beautiful grand piano! Besides, I would have felt mean, letting the congregation flounder along without any music.

‘Um … well, I’ll do it—as long as I know the songs,’ I heard myself say.

And we made it, by God’s grace, which certainly worked overtime, given I had only the top line of music or guitar chords for most songs—and nothing for the final one! To my amazement, as I began playing, it was as if those twenty years since I had played for a service melted away. I certainly muffed a few notes and chords, but it was as if some reliable, old ‘default setting’ took over inside me—and I was back playing as I had when our children were the age our grandchildren are now.

‘It’s like riding a bike,’ my husband said later. ‘You think you can’t do it, but then you get on—and away you go!’

Later, as I reflected on my unexpected and very public Sunday morning challenge, I began to wonder about my responses in those more private spiritual challenges of life. What might my ‘default settings’ turn out to be there? In difficult situations, was my default response one of worry and fear—or calmness and trust in God? In prolonged times of disappointment, did I automatically hold onto my hope in God and persevere? Or did I moan and complain and think of giving up? In times of achievement and success, did I forget all about how God had strengthened and led me and instead, default to taking all the glory for myself? Had I truly changed enough deep down so that my default settings were God’s and not just my own?

I want my roots go down deep into God, constantly tapping into that spiritual wellspring, just as the person mentioned in Psalm 1:3 did as he meditated on God’s law:

 He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither.

I want God to transform me on the inside as we spend time together so I can respond to those unexpected challenges in the best way possible. Is that your heart’s desire too?

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Around three years ago, I wrote a blog about a blueberry ash tree I had planted as a tiny seedling on the creek bank behind our house. By that stage, it had managed to survive several years of being attacked by our lawnmower and a total lack of care from me. Then a flood came—and my little tree, then about a metre and half in height, disappeared beneath the murky brown water. Yet, miracle of miracles, after those waters receded, it popped up again, good as new!

In the ensuing years, that blueberry ash has grown to around three metres, producing beautiful, miniature clusters of pale pink flowers and interesting little blue berries, as per its name. But during the heavy rains here in Sydney a few weeks ago, it experienced another adventure. Again, I watched from the safety of our kitchen as it disappeared one afternoon beneath a torrent of fast-flowing, brown water.

Now the deluge was not as high this time, yet somehow, my tree still ended up completely submerged. When I later went to investigate, it was lying almost horizontal and covered in all sorts of debris. For it to be in that position, I was sure its roots must have popped through the surface of the ground—but no. Instead, that tree, with its slender, pliable trunk, had managed to bend almost at right angles, without disturbing the soil around its base. Those roots held firm, somewhere way down deep in that soggy creek bank.

P1040093I hastily cleaned up my tree and propped it up, tying it to our fence for a while, in case of any further flood. It seemed to recover well, but recently, we noticed it was growing at something of an angle. We decided it needed some help to stand up straight again and tied it firmly to a long stake. And it was at that point I realised what a powerful image of our lives this tree conveyed.

In Psalm 1:3, we read how those who delight in the law of the Lord are like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. In order for us to stand firm, it’s important to ensure our roots go down deep into God as we constantly drink from the living water God provides. Yet life can still become a struggle at times and even the best of us may end up like my poor tree, needing help to weather the storms. How good it is when we are able to call on others who will support us during those times, just like that stake, and provide a shoulder to lean on until we become strong and resilient again! Surely this is one of the functions of the Body of Christ—to lift up our brothers and sisters and to bear one another’s burdens until that resilience wins through again.

Have you been feeling a little like my blueberry ash of late, overwhelmed and bent at right angles? I pray God will soon strengthen you and that others will be there to support you until you can stand up straight and tall once again. May your roots go down deep into God and may you in turn be able to strengthen and encourage many others.

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