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Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Planted or sown?

The tree that is beside the running water is fresher and gives more fruit. (Saint Teresa of Avila) 

What truthfully produces joy in your life? There are those who will answer it is their family and the delight of each member joined together in amiable conversation over a simple family meal. Still others will acknowledge there is not a whole lot of joy in their family life, either because loss has left them with a void not easily filled, or because there has been some riff in the ranks. Others will give an accounting of this great accomplishment, or that newest purchase. In time, those accomplishments will be outdone and the item we held in such high regard will begin to decay or diminish in value. Nothing quite measures up to the joy of being where we can be fed, nurtured, and allowed to bear fruit, though - for this is TRUE joy, not the type easily fleeting or worn out over time.

Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers.  But they delight in the law of the Lord, meditating on it day and night.  They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do. (Psalm 1:1-3 NLT)

To delight in the Word of God is to find oneself in the fertile soil that bears much fruit. To be open to the leading of the Holy Spirit in our lives is to realize the refreshing rains and warm sun rays of his grace. To be tested by the winds of hard circumstances is to send down roots that will serve to hold us tight when others might be uprooted. As our psalmist points out, it is where we are planted, from where we take our nourishment, and with whom we fellowship that we find our greatest joys. For me, it is in these early morning hours spent with him in quiet repose, sitting alongside mom in quiet enjoyment of some lazy Sunday afternoon, or in the gut splitting laughter shared with a friend.

Where do you find advice? It matters, you know. There are lots and lots of self-help books, self-proclaimed subject matter experts, and motivational speakers these days. We could turn to these, but I kind of think we'd find these principles to be "okay" at best compared to the advice that comes through the study of the Word, or the wisdom of the multitude of counselors who also have spent time in the Word and at the feet of Jesus. There is advice - then there is counsel. Advice is based on opinion and perhaps even experience - counsel is based upon truth - principles upon which we can take anchorage and find ourselves consistently doing well because we have.

With whom do you find yourself hanging out the most? These are the ones who will pour into your lives, or those who will constantly drain your reserves. The company we keep matters and it determines how it is we will face much of life's challenges. There is strength in some relationships, while others only sap our resources, never giving anything back. While I think we cannot always pick and choose which ones we will keep in our lives, I do believe we can limit the impact of those who drain us by setting boundaries. I also believe we can be filled up by those that build us up and help us to be better individuals by determining to make the most of every opportunity with them.

To stay "fresh", we need to be constantly renewed. To show signs of new growth, we need to be planted where we have the potential of growth. Look again at the passage - we are "planted" - we don't just fall upon ground and sprout up in some haphazard manner. We allow God to position us for our optimal growth and continual renewal. I want God to plant us in solid relationships, in places and circumstances where we can take root and find strong anchorage in our lives. Here is where we will realize the true joy of life. Just sayin!