I’ve recently embarked on a 40 day prayer journey and during this experience, this passage – Psalm 1 – that I memorized as a kid has come to life in a brand new way. When I memorized Psalm 1 (at least 30 years ago), I could not quite relate to the metaphor of withered leaves like I can now. I don’t mind admitting that there have been a lot of days since then when I’ve felt my leaves curling up around the edges.
On days when I get discouraged by the state of our world, or when I’m bone tired from depending on my own limited skills, or when I feel misunderstood, undervalued or overwhelmed, I question whether or not I will ever have what it takes to bear good fruit. As a writer, human and time limitations could easily turn blogging into a struggle no less daunting than drawing water from a stone.
The truth is, I don’t have what it takes to thrive by myself. When I am depending on my own resources or human logic, my leaves wither faster than a pansy in July. If you know me at all, you know I am a hot mess without constant help from the Mighty Mind that dreamed me up. I now see that when my leaves withered I was not fully pressing in to the fertile soil that keeps me grounded or being nourished by the water that quenches every thirst. The strength that comes from being watered by The River of Life cannot be overestimated.
Every day, I recognize the familiar signs of withering all around me when I go out in public, or when I watch the news. This week’s tragedy in Brussels, threats at a local high school here in my community, broken marriages everywhere I look… these things tear at our hope.
Psalm 1 was written long before Jesus was born, so if it was true then it’s all the more true now. On this Easter weekend, I can’t help thinking how Jesus died on a tree that was chopped down and separated from its roots to buy back life for us. We never have to be apart from the kind of love that pours life into the lifeless…and wins every single time. Sure, evil is strong; but the Hope of the Ages is stronger!
On this weekend of so many mixed emotions, we can celebrate the hope that Jesus not only existed, but He came so we can tap into the same power that raised Him from death to life. (That truth keeps blowing my mind.) We are given an open invitation to live our lives rooted deeply in that One Great Hope. This isn’t a temporary promise, like clever marketing campaigns assure us will satisfy our longings. We are talking about the kind of hope that is steeped in unfathomable, sacrificial love. It doesn’t wax and wane from one day to the next.
No matter how deeply we allow our roots to sink into Him, we will never reach the limits of Christ’s love, His Father’s wisdom, or the power available to us through His Spirit. There is always more love, more hope, more power to overcome the things that threaten to wither our leaves. When we stop following cheap substitutes for Him, we free ourselves to be planted what is eternal. Rooting our thoughts, ideas, prayers and actions in the flow of His goodness allows us to thrive with healthy roots. It really is possible to produce season after season of abundant fruit, but we simply can’t truly prosper in the truest sense of the word without Him powering everything.
Friend, I hope this Easter you will just take a moment to consider all that is available to you simply for the asking. You don’t have to be perfect, or jump through any hoops. You simply get to say “yes” to love, forgiveness, and so much hope. And here’s an added bonus…when we’re all drawing our strength from the same River, we’re deeply connected to one another too. This network of connectedness to Him is our only hope in a world full of trees with withered leaves.