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Saturday, June 22, 2013

Tumbleweed or Tree?

Depend:  To rely, place trust; to be sure of.  We depend upon a lot of things, don't we?  We depend on getting to work on time just because we were on the road by our "usual" time today.  The hazards along the way may provide a later arrival than anticipated, but we still depended upon getting there on time because we did our part.  We depend upon our laundry detergent to remove the stains in our clothing, despite the fact the stains are set in and rather stubborn ones at that.  When the detergent doesn't "perform" as anticipated, we buy a different type the next time because we have to "depend" upon the detergent to do its job.  We get into trouble when our dependence upon something or someone is stronger than our dependence upon God.  I am not saying we should depend on God to get the stains out of our jeans, but he is pretty awesome at getting stains out of our "genes"!

Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and sets God aside as dead weight.  He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth.  He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.  But blessed is the man who trusts me, Godthe woman who sticks with God.  They’re like trees replanted in Eden, putting down roots near the rivers—never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf, serene and calm through droughts, bearing fresh fruit every season.  (Jeremiah 17:5-8 MSG)

I live in the middle of the desert, so I understand the 'stunted' growth of desert shrubs.  They just don't grow big and hearty like the elms, oaks, and cedars in the more "well-watered" regions of our country.  They are brittle and dry - even their coloring is kind of "anemic".  The leaves are not the lush deep greens of the trees of the well-watered regions, but rather a light grey green. They just don't look 'healthy'.  There is something about being planted where you have opportunity for the greatest growth, isn't there?  As long as we are depending upon our own efforts to change our character, we are like the tumbleweed in the desert - out of touch with life!  I don't cater to the self-help gurus or their books which are hocked at our local book establishments.  Why?  Self cannot help self!  Only God can help self!  Depend long enough upon your "self" and you will become selfish, self-deceived, and self-absorbed.  Not the best list of qualities, right?

So, growth is dependent upon whom we depend upon.  If our dependence is on self, our growth will be disconnected from the sources of life which we need for balanced and vigorous growth.  At best, we may have leaves, but they are 'anemic' leaves!  Trees replanted in Eden really gives us a picture of flourishing growth - development beyond human capacity.  Eden was planted and tended by God's hand.  He put Adam in charge of the garden, but he was the one who ensured it was watered and receiving the nutrients it needed for robust growth.  We may "tend to" what God puts in our hands, but he is the one who plants the seed, nourishes it to full growth, and then enjoys the fruits from its growth!

A couple of things about depending upon God:

* Wherever we take root determines our potential for growth.  If our dependence is upon God, our roots go down deep into the soil of his Word.  We take frequent nourishment from it.  Superficial roots don't protect us in times of drought or the storms which come.  They are quickly affected by both.  To experience deep growth, we need deep roots.  Dependence upon God is often seen in examining where it is we have taken root, and how deeply those roots are set!

* Dependence upon God doesn't mean no drought will come.  It simply means we are in a position to weather the drought!  Sure our leaves wilt a little under the extreme intensity of the "season" of drought in our lives, but drought really only drives the roots deeper!  Think about it - you don't need deep roots if you can continue to find the source of what you need on the surface.  If the surface is dry, you go deeper!  God allows the seasons of drought in our lives not to scorch us and leave us detached from growth like the tumbleweed.  He allows them because he is counting on us taking deeper root during those seasons!

* Dependence means we place both our hope and confidence in the one upon whom we depend.  Hope reflects some future state - confidence reflects the presence determination of heart.  Confidence knows we are rooted exactly where we will find our source in the times of testing and trial.  Hope recognizes the times of testing and trial are only for a season.  

Tumbleweed or Tree?  Your roots reveal the truth.  Just sayin!