Your Word I Haven’t Hidden in My Heart…

Here is one of a million confessions I could (and should) make:

I have been a follower of Jesus Christ for 25 years, but I have never made it a consistent priority to memorize Scripture. 

Oh, you too?

I could write a whole post about reasons why I haven’t made it priority, and reasons why I should have. But let me instead just share with you two key verses:

Your Word I have treasured in my heart, that I may not sin against You.
~Psalm 119:11 NASB

and

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.
~Psalm 1:1-3 NASB

I discovered a fantastic Scripture memory tool that I have been faithfully using (because it’s fun and does much of the logistical work for me) for about a month and a half. I LOVE it. In fact, I wrote the above Scriptures from memory because of it! If you’re like me and you’ve tried various memory systems throughout your life with little success–for whatever reason–then you might want to give this one a try. You might just love it! And you’ll definitely NEVER regret hiding the Word in your heart.

Check it out: Memverse.com

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Getting All Tangled Up

Yesterday, I wrote about how the true believer plants him- or herself as close to the Source of Life as possible. It’s a beautiful metaphor (simile, technically) about trees found in Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17, and it’s worth meditating on if you never have (the Scriptures I mean, not my post!). The believer was meant to grow deep roots, to dig deeply into the love and the grace and the mystery of God. To grow in intimacy with Him. That’s why you were made: to glorify God by enjoying Him forever! It’s not a passive exercise, by any means, and it doesn’t happen just because you have a general preference for Christianity over other religions. You have to intentionally and consistently seek to abide in Him. That was yesterday’s post.

But if you remember, I began that post with a little anecdote about trees planted close together inevitably having tangled up roots, and Justin reassured me that this typically wasn’t a problem for the trees. I never revisited the concept of the tangled roots, but that’s what really got me thinking in the first place.

If the flourishing believer is a tree planted by a stream, yielding fruit and never fearing the drought, then what’s the local church? Well, it’s a little forest that sprouted up all around this winding stream full of Living Water — it’s a whole ecosystem! One that provides warmth, shelter, and nutrition to many of God’s creatures, one that displays His creativity, whispers His majesty, and grows deep and wide, all because it’s nourished by His love.

Even a Narnia-like winter can’t sap the life out of these trees. They have an unseen support system underground, a community. Their strength lies in two things: the Source of Life and each other.*

Remember what Justin said about tangled roots? It’s not a problem for a tree. “It’s only a problem when you’re trying to dig one up.” Their lives are so interwoven with the community around them that it’s quite difficult to uproot any of them.

While I don’t know of a Scripture that talks about a group of trees in this particular way, there is a literal description of the early church in Acts:

And they devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers. And awe came upon every soul, and many wonders and signs were being done through the apostles. And all who believed were together and had all things in common. And they were selling their possessions and belongings and distributing the proceeds to all, as any had need. And day by day, attending the temple together and breaking bread in their homes, they received their food with glad and generous hearts, praising God and having favor with all the people. And the Lord added to their number day by day those who were being saved.

(Acts 2:42-47 ESV)

Community. A group of trees with tangled roots, seeking God. It’s a really good thing. It’ll only cause a problem for the enemy who is trying to uproot you, and his having a problem with that is a REALLY good thing.

Come back tomorrow to read my concluding thoughts on trees, spiritually speaking!

*Disclaimer: Obviously, unhealthy relationships that choke the life out of you if you grow too close to someone else, leaning on him or her as a substitute for God, are not good. This happens to trees, too. Don’t do that. God must be first and ultimate, and then other believers encourage you, and you encourage them. You should benefit from both.

Deep Roots

Trees.

I’ve been thinking a lot about them.

I asked my husband the other day, as I was idly looking out the car window on the way home from church, if trees growing close together have tangled roots — because it seems like they obviously would — and whether this ever caused a problem. He said, “Not for the trees. It’s only a problem when you’re trying to dig one up.” I didn’t reply. He continued by explaining that’s why he had such a hard time removing some of the ugly landscaping in front of our house.

I might have replied with an, “Mmm hmmm,” as we turned onto our street, or I might not have. I don’t remember. But as he pulled the car into the garage and shifted into park, I turned to him. “Because it’s really a great metaphor for Christianity.”

He looked at me and said, “Explain.”

And so I did. I started with the imagery already present throughout Scripture — off of the top of my head, Psalm 1 and Jeremiah 17, and wherever it is that Jesus talks about Living Water — about trees and fruit and nourishment. In short, the true believer is the tree, which stays close to the source of life (God), and which therefore bears fruit and doesn’t worry about heat or drought. Check it:

Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD,
whose trust is the LORD.
He is like a tree planted by water,
that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when heat comes,
for its leaves remain green,
and is not anxious in the year of drought,
for it does not cease to bear fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV)

He is like a tree
planted by streams of water
that yields its fruit in its season,
and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.
The wicked are not so,
but are like chaff that the wind drives away.
(Psalm 1:3-4 ESV)

So you have this gorgeous image of visible health and vitality that springs forth from the life-giving Source. Green leaves, sweet fruit, a sturdy tree that doesn’t get blown away like the chaff. Who in the world doesn’t want this? Who would look at this and say, “No, you know what? I want to be chaff. Useless and blown away with the wind to amount to nothing.” What? No! Everyone wants to be healthy. Everyone wants to be useful. Everyone wants to be whole. Everyone wants to be beautiful. That’s what this tree is, and that is what is offered to you.

You’ve really got to have deep roots to be this tree, though. That will take time and effort and perseverance. You don’t just say a seven-second repeat-after-me-yes-I’m-so-sorry-Jesus-I’m-a-sinner-prayer when you’re seven or seventeen or thirty-seven and then magically morph into this tree. You start as a little baby tree, and you are weak and vulnerable. You have to be nurtured and protected and planted in the right soil and connected to the Source of Life. Your little baby roots just barely touch His goodness, but He’s so good that you can’t get enough. You stretch and you reach deeper to get more. Then through the years, you grow. Deeper and deeper into His word, and He sustains you. It’s really a beautiful image.

But ideally, you’re not alone, and I haven’t even gotten started with this tree thing. More tomorrow!