We’re not what I would call fully ‘green’ folks, but this weekend my husband was a definite tree hugger. The corner lot our house sits on was blessed with trees by the former owners. Planted twenty-five years ago, they were small clusters here and there of “little popsicle sticks,” they proudly pointed out when we bought the house from them twenty years ago. “Little popsicle sticks?” These days, not so much! Those things are towering now at forty feet or more.
At one count prior to Ice Storm in Spokane in the mid-nineties, we had right at 100 trees on our lot. Mind you, a city lot, not an acre or two out in the country. Over the years, thanks to Ice Storm’s damage, some freeloading bugs that think our trees are tasty, and simply the need to thin the clusters so two instead of five trees could actually live and thrive, my husband has played the role of part-time arborist.
Saturday afternoon, our first beautiful summer day of the season, found him climbing beyond the twenty-four foot ladder, into the tree higher still, and gently swaying about thirty feet up with his bare arm hugged tightly around the tree trunk and a Stihl chainsaw gripped in the free hand. I was standing below on terra firma with eyes riveted on the branches. Across the street, I noticed the neighbor’s flowering tree had sprouted legs; a dead giveaway that our retired neighbor was surreptitiously keeping another pair of eyes peeled to make sure the eagle didn’t land.
The two trees that survived this particular cluster’s thinning years ago were dead about the last ten feet from the top. The rest of the trees’ foliage is thick and healthy as long as they get their bug treatment each growing season. And not to mention, water.
Trees have an ability to bud again and again, no matter how dry the soil, how old the root, or even how dead the stump. A wonderful scripture in the book of Job, nestled within his chapter-long complaint, describes this truth of the tree beautifully:
“Though its root becomes old in the earth, and its stump dies in the dust, at the scent of water it will bud and bring forth branches like a plant.” Job 14:8-9 (LITV)
“…at the scent of water…” I love that phrase. If you’re companioning with me in the midst of desert days, it speaks such encouragement to me for our hearts as well.
Though these may seem like dry and dusty days on the surface, the Word declares that blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord and whose confidence is in Him, “For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters that spreads out its roots by the river; and it shall not see and fear when heat comes; but its leaf shall be green. It shall not be anxious and full of care in the year of drought, nor shall it cease yielding fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (AMP)
It’s all about roots that catch the faintest scent of water. Trees persist, through their root system, seeking that which will give them life. Slowly, persistently, they seek the underground springs which will provide them relief and release. They are bud factories, eager to be green and fruitful. All they need is that life-giving water. Cool, clear, fresh, satisfying water.
Our hearts are designed by God to be bud factories, too. And right here in the Jeremiah passage above, He spells out the factory warranty:
Do you trust Him? Or like Thomas, do you only believe what you see with your eyes? Is your confidence in Him? Or have you placed your confidence in what the world views as success and a sure thing? Like a factory warranty, God ensures that if we do our heart-part (trust Him and put our confidence in Him regardless of what that may require or look like to others…or even ourselves), He will make good on His guarantee that we not see and fear when heat comes; our leaf shall be green (alive and nourished); our heart shall not be anxious and full of care when water seems scarce; and best of all, we shall not cease bearing fruit. His Eternal water source is far more reliable than the H2O this world has to offer.
Heart roots that go deep in God are roots that trust. Roots that spread out seeking His life-giving water have confidence they will find it. Roots that push through hard soil and past rocks and hindrances will locate the artesian well that is Christ. “Springs of living water” quench the thirsty heart of man and tree.
Have you caught the scent of water today? Lift your head and breathe deeply. The River of Living Water is running deep and strong, ever so close to you.
P.S. The ‘arborist’ got the treetops lopped off, the branches fell down, and he didn’t. The chainsaw survived, and other than some angry scratches on his bare arm, so did he. 🙂