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Monday, November 8, 2010

A Tree Planted by Water

Psalm 1 says, "Happy 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 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 (NRSV).

A poetic metaphor, of course. But what does it really mean? That nothing bad will ever happen to a God-centered person? Of course not. We all know that such people can have car accidents, develop cancer, lose their homes, lose a child, wind up divorced, or become depressed and angry. Goodness knows Israel and every major hero and heroine in the Hebrew Bible had crosses to bear and trials to overcome. So what point was the author of the psalm making with such confidence?

The water represents God's presence in our lives... an otherworldly energy that brings them through all tests and trials stronger and wiser than before. There are trees that are potted and trees that are planted. Those planted in God's covenant grace will grow taller, wider, and older than the potted trees. They will bear more fruit, meaning that at life's end, the person will be able to look back and be content with what he or she produced with the effort of their life. They were a resource for others, a shelter in a storm, shade on a blistering day. At their funeral, people will line up to declare the wonderful aroma their life exuded.

In economic terms, it means that that person will inherit a possession that far outweighs what wall street has to offer. This is an inheritance that passes on to generations.

In terms of physics, the believer has laid hands on the ultimate quantum reality, the one that ultimately leads to green pastures rather than to spooky nonsense and spiritual confusion.

In mathematical terms, it is the overcoming of the chaos of the universe. The fractal begins to make sense; eternity and infinity are a source of peace and joy.

In psychological terms, it is the peace that passes all understanding.

In political terms, it represents submission to the Peace Child of Isaiah 9, the One who governs wisely, who was prophetically given 7 designations: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty, God, Eternal, Father, Prince of Peace.

The tree planted by the waters of God's Presence will experience storms and drought, but the leaf will not wither. This tree is an overcomer which passes on its strength and longevity to future generations.