Blessed trees and rainy soccer games
The blessed tree Jeremiah talks about in Jeremiah 17 is a deep-rooted tree. It’s the tree lacking nothing. A tree beautiful inside and out. This tree does not have the appearance of abundance; it has the physical proof of abundance. It is not worried about outer security because it is grounded with inner confidence. It doesn’t work to earn love; it thrives because of received love. It doesn’t fear the storm but stands strong through the winds, even offering shelter to others in danger. The deep roots reach water, no matter the circumstances.
Have you ever watched a soccer game in the middle of the pouring rain? When it pours in the middle of a match, there are two types of players on the field; those who live to play through the storm and those who live for the storm to be over. It’s probably no surprise that rainy games were always my favorite. There is nothing like slipping and sliding through the mud. Moving the ball in and out of puddles while splashing down the field. The extra water flying off your hair as you release a soaking wet ball spinning rapidly toward a goal you can barely even see due to the intensity of the downpour. Rainy day victories were the best. Sliding into the mud-filled pile of teammates to celebrate your win. Mud spots up and down white socks that never fully come clean again. Wringing out your soaked uniform before mom and dad would let you back into the car. Something about the storm made the victory so much better.
We have a Father who doesn’t want us cowering on the sidelines while we wait for the storms of life to be over either. He actually created us to thrive in the middle of them. He doesn’t want our heads hung low as we walk to the car in defeat because of unexpected rain. He doesn’t need us to run for cover or seek after a more sturdy shelter. He is our shelter and He becomes our cover. Instead He invites us to roll up our sleeves in confident expectation; this will be a game worth writing home about. In our deep-rooted place of confidence, He becomes our strength and there is no storm we cannot face.
“In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world,” (John 16:33.)
His promise of abundance is for real and it’s not just for once the storm is over. You don’t just get to enjoy His abundant fruit during the good weather. You actually get to feast upon it regardless of what’s going on around you. The key to forever fruitfulness is hidden in the deep roots of relational intimacy within you. The more you know His love and the deeper it penetrates inside, the less you fear outside.
Listen carefully to Paul’s prayer for the new believers in Corinth, “For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,” (Eph. 3:14-20.)
Paul prays for strength. But not the strength we have been conditioned to go after. He prays for inner strength. Strength strongly rooting and establishing young believers in the deepest love of Jesus. Paul knows with firmly planted roots, they will be able to grasp how wide, long, high and deep is the love of Christ. Understanding His love enables us to live in the reality of an abundant relationship, truly believing God can do anything. Knowing He will do far more than we ever asked or imagined possible.
Here’s the catch; He loves us so much; He won’t do it by force. He actually waits for permission and participation. As we yield to His Spirit, He deeply plants Himself into our lives until the sky becomes the limit because His love knows no bounds. The secret to transforming the world starts in our acceptance of self-transformation. The key ingredient to our transformation is simply and purely the deep-rooted, audacious love of Jesus.
I’ve always wanted to change the world (still do, just not as much as I want the love of Jesus to change my world.) My earlier pursuit of Jesus was more about what He would do through me instead of what He longed to do in me. I didn’t know what I didn’t know. With time, grace and growth, I finally heard His invitation into the deep. The Father doesn’t settle for what He can do through us. He pursues us to develop something deeper. Something more satisfying. More sustaining. More life-giving. He woos us into relationship. A relationship that changes everything. He will never care more about what we do, than who we are.
What are the roots of your life planted into? The evidence is in the fruit. It leads to trouble when we don’t inspect the fruit we buy at the grocery. Carefully, we examine the bananas, making sure there are no bruises or soft spots. Upon meeting the desires of our inspection, we place them in the cart confident they will do the job. Examining the fruit of your life leads to an increased awareness of depth and an invitation to go deeper, grow stronger and ultimately learn to dance through the worst of storms.