What’s Your Puddle?

I promise, I’m almost done talking trees. (If you missed it, this is the final installment of my tree series, which I didn’t intend to be a series in the first place, but I’m really just incapable of being concise. Therefore, it is now a series. I promise I’m done talking about trees after this. Really. Unless I think of something else to say about them.)

In my first post, I talked about having Deep Roots. There, I discussed exquisite Biblical imagery about a healthy, deeply rooted tree that is meant to help us understand the beauty of a believer’s intimate relationship with God. Yesterday, I posted about Getting All Tangled Up, wherein I talked about growing together in a community of believers and the strength that comes from it.

Today is about having no roots and having no community. It’s about being the average, American, self-proclaimed Christian. This encompasses varying levels of professing belief. Maybe they go to church a lot, maybe occasionally, maybe never. Maybe they appreciate Facebook memes about God and re-post them sometimes. Maybe they wear a cross necklace or have a Jesus tattoo. Maybe they try really hard to be nice and good. Maybe they don’t try that hard because they figure Jesus was all about forgiveness anyway. Maybe they really like Jesus, or at least what they know of Him, but they really don’t like church-going Christians, or at least what they know of them. Maybe they’re really believers, maybe they’re not. The point is that this person would, if asked, identify him- or herself as a Christian. And the point is that this person is missing the point.

This person is a Christmas tree.

In a puddle of water.

Trying really hard to be pretty and to get people to like her.

And generally, people do. She wears pretty lights, heart-felt ornaments, eye-catching garland, and is crowned by a bright star. People must like that, or they wouldn’t decorate trees every year! Oh, and don’t forget the pretty wrapped presents beneath her branches! She has gifts to give her family and friends because she loves them. She worked really hard to carefully select, wrap, and arrange the presents. All of this makes her look beautiful, and it generally makes most people like her.

Unfortunately, those beautiful presents are masking a deadly secret: This beautiful tree has no roots, and no REAL source of life! She is dying. She’s putting on makeup every day, clasping her cross necklace around her neck, and smiling like everything is okay.

But it’s not. First of all, most of what’s beautiful about her is external. She is not bearing fruit; she is merely adorned with material things. Even worse, she has no roots, and she is trying to survive in a puddle of water that, frankly, is too easily forgotten about for days after it’s gone dry.  Her puddle might be church. Or a relationship. Or general “spiritual” acknowledgements. Maybe even a devotional book. Or a self-help book. Or a white-knuckled dedication to positive thinking. Ultimately, though, it’s deferring the inevitable and keeping her just barely hanging on.




So, at some point, she’s going to start to wilt. And turn brown. And stink. Unless there’s a major intervention.

I know a lot of Christmas trees. I recognize them because I’ve been one, and so God is beginning to break my heart for them. They don’t know that there is so much more to life. That there is abundant life to be had! It’s available for you and for me, and it ain’t no puddle that’s gonna dry up.

Go, seek out Living Water. Then you won’t have to keep hoping your sad little puddle won’t dry up. That puddle’s not really working anyway, is it?

And for the cynics: You CAN re-plant a Christmas tree. So there. 🙂

Deep Roots


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!