Yes, to the Flourishing Life

woman under tree

 

My friend Lisa turned me onto the Jeremiah 17 tree months ago, and I’ve been enraptured ever since…

“…blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in Him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIV)

Just lovely, this picture; this verdant tree…I want to sit in its soothing shade, lean against its trusty trunk, dip my toes in its sparkling stream. Isn’t this what we all want? To root down in our God, daily drinking abundance from His waters?

Yes, to the flourishing life. To the blessed life. To the delectable infilling our life-parched souls crave.

But a few weeks ago in the car, as I basked in the ambiance of this favorite passage on audio, God cupped my chin, turning my gaze from the lush landscape to the parched place only a few verses prior. To the tree’s antithesis, where scarcity alone thrives.

The absolute last thing we want, and yet the first place we often run in our neediness…

I listened on repeat for a good 20 minutes, sobered; convicted by the time I’ve spent in the parched place, trying, trying to coax water from rock…

“Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who draws strength from mere flesh and whose heart turns away from the Lord. That person will be like a bush in the wastelands; they will not see prosperity when it comes. They will dwell in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land where no one lives.” Jeremiah 17:5-6 (NIV)

…I was speechless; floored by the scenarios’ marked differences. And once home with my journal, felt compelled to compare/contrast:

“The bush that dwells in the parched place is cursed, dependent on mere flesh for her strength; her heart turned from God. She cannot see—she hasn’t eyes for abundance; altogether missing prosperity. She is alone, in a desolate, desert salt land; a virtual death land.

By contrast, the God-trusting, thriving tree is blessed, having strategically planted herself stream-side, securing eternal nourishment at the Source. Unshaken by circumstance, altogether fearless–carefree. Ever green; ever fruitful. A picture of life.”

What really got me in the former list was the phrase “drawing strength from mere flesh”…

Are any of my sisters with me?

Oh, we’re linked up with the Lord, yes, in heart work; ministry work; worthy calling-work; but still, isn’t it hard not to yank back control at times, ever shrouded in humanity as we are? Eyes diverted by the world, we begin to wonder if our work matters; if we matter. And having wandered from our water Source, we start to thirst for worldly approval…

I posted this on Facebook the other day, drained by the futile chase of significance…and just knowing, so was someone else:

“Sometimes I grow weary. My race pace slows. And I flirt with quitting.

Unfailingly it’s because I’ve shifted my gaze from my Focus to the periphery: my fellow runners. The numbers. The likes, the comments, the shares. In light of all this, I’ll never be enough–I’ll lose heart every time…

But God’s called me to this race, says I am enough; requires my faithfulness, obedience. My showing up, even if it’s limping:

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us.” Hebrews 12:1 (NIV)

RUN.

Not jog sluggishly, distracted by the world. But wholeheartedly, all out. All in.

Throwing off the weight that hinders and keeps us from the running—human acceptance, accolades, affirmations.

Eyes fixed, ever on the Race Marker.

Whatever your race in this life, run it.

For an audience of One.”

God’s been illuminating Scripture after Scripture during this grown-weary season; and I’ll share the wealth here:

“Now while he was in Jerusalem at the Passover festival, many people saw the signs he was performing and believed in his name. But Jesus would not entrust himself to them, for he knew all people. He did not need any testimony about mankind, for he knew what was in each person.” John 2:23-25 (NIV)

“For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace.” Romans 8:6 (ESV)

“Blessed is the one who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night. That person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither—whatever they do prospers.” Psalm 1:1-3 (NIV)

“Am I now trying to win the approval of human beings, or of God? Or am I trying to please people? If I were still trying to please people, I would not be a servant of Christ.” Galatians 1:10 (NIV)

“Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a workman who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” 2 Timothy 2:15 (NIV)

…Yes, to the flourishing life.

May we live as women approved, faithful fruit-bearers, drinking deep of His abundance…and all to the glory of the only Audience that matters.

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