Psalm 1 v 3.
“… 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.“
One cold morning I went walking by the bank of a small river that flowed swiftly along a desolate valley, tumbling over rocks and little waterfalls on its way to the distant sea. Its froth topped, peaty waters had over the years carved a boulder strewn path through the surrounding mountains, etching its progress into the isolated land. I remarked to myself that of all the delightful things this world has to offer, surely the wonders of creation are among the best.
All around me the hills still wore their drab winter covering of faded heather and mossy grass as they patiently waited for spring’s warmth to entice them back into life. Soon the mountains and the hills would be alive with colour again. For the moment, however, all was desolate and bare. Or was it?
A Holly Tree in the Wilderness
I halted my walk as the sight of a holly tree, clothed in a garment of richest green, caught my eye. It stood out amongst the few bare trees scattered along the river’s banks, almost like ‘a lily among thorns,’ Solomon’s Song 2 v 2.
I wonder if we stand out like ‘a lily among thorns,’ in the world around us. May our lives be such that it can be said of us as it was of Jesus’ disciples, that others ‘took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus,’ Acts 4 v 13.
The Tree’s Origin
How had the holly tree got there, I wondered? Had a bird carried a seed there from some distant tree and the seed had taken root and grown?
It reminds me that God can use a single thought or word or experience to draw a soul to Jesus Christ.
If perhaps you are wondering ‘what must I do to be saved?’ Acts 16 v 30, ask God to nourish the seed He has sown in your heart. May it, with His blessing, grow into a saving and redeeming knowledge of Jesus and, blessed with His righteousness may you become like ‘a tree planted by the rivers of water,’ Psalm 1 v 3.
Rooted by the River
I think it was fair to say that the holly tree’s health and vibrancy came from the fact it’s roots were well established by the edge of the river. And yet it was situated in a pretty hostile environment there among the mountains!
Is the firmly rooted holly tree a picture of you and me in this hostile world we live in? Are we so firmly rooted by faith in Jesus Christ that we are like a tree whose ‘leaf also shall not wither?’ Psalm 1 v 3
Dead and Dying
Along the river’s banks lay trees that were either dead or dying. Some had been blown down by gales; others had been washed away by floods; others had never really rooted. Whatever the reason for their demise it was apparent that all had shallow roots that lacked the strength to anchor them firmly in time of need.
How unlike the holly tree they were!
Like a House Built upon a Rock
The holly tree’s roots could be seen reaching deep down into the river bank where they had been partly exposed by flood water. Despite years of subjection to gales, floods and drought the tree had stood firm for it had ‘cast forth its roots,’ Hosea 14 v 5, like the renowned cedar trees of Lebanon.
Dear friends, could it be that we, because we have no firm Gospel foundation, can be compared to the trees whose roots were of no avail in time of need because they had never rooted in solid ground?
Or are we so rooted and established by faith in Jesus Christ, depending on Him alone for our salvation, that we can be compared to the holly tree that was firmly rooted by the river, where it stood ‘steadfast, unmoveable?’ 1 Corinthians 15 v 58.
Dear reader, if you are trusting in Jesus alone believing that ‘He only is my rock and my salvation;‘ Psalm 62 v 2, may you find that ‘God is the strength of your heart, and your portion for ever’ (Psalm 73 v 26.)
Rooted and Flourishing
May we, like the holly tree that had stood firm in countless storms, flourishing where other trees failed, find that, with God’s strength, our faith stand firm and flourishing despite the trials of body and soul.
May God bless us with faith in Jesus Christ that is firmly rooted, nourished and strengthened by the Word of God so that we become as a tree firmly planted by a river.