Secrets of the Tree People — Adam’s Angle

I’ve never met a giant redwood that was an overnight success. It takes time for that fragile seed to develop into a firmly rooted colossus.

But when it is full-grown, it is nigh unshakable. And, according to Psalm 1, a flourishing tree is what every believer should resemble. But if that’s the case, why don’t we know more “spiritual redwoods” than we do?

The answer is because it takes more than just time to grow in our faith. Just like a sapling needs a balanced menu of sunlight and water, so we need the right spiritual diet. The key to spiritual staying power is found when we give up a diet of evil and feed richly and consistently on God’s Word.

I Wanna Be a Tree When I Grow Up

Psalm 1 gives us two plant pictures: one is of a flourishing tree, and the other one is of plant chaff getting blown away by the wind. These images represent two types of people. Which would you rather be like?

It sounds pretty good to be a “tree”-type of person: “He is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers” (Psalm 1:3).

Not too shabby! This type of person has a constant source of life, even during the dry seasons when there is no rain. His or her life yields fruit (good stuff) season by season. The leaves not withering speaks of being able to endure the rough times even in a heat wave. And, best of all, this type of person is chased down by God’s bounty in whatever task he or she faces, “Whatever he does, prospers.”

In contrast, the “chaff”-type of person doesn’t sound all that great: “Not so the wicked! They are like chaff that the wind blows away. Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous” (Psalm 1:4-5).

Here today, gone tomorrow. A flash the pan. Overnight superstars who won’t last the long haul. We’re surrounded by them every time we turn on the TV or look at the world around us. We drool over the “success” of lesser heroes and get swayed to follow their path to prosperity. But at the end of the day, fleeting bright success disappears in the face of everlasting judgment.

Better to be one of the “tree” people, don’t you think?

You, On a Spiritual Diet

So, how can we grow up to become spiritual redwoods? First, we need to give up our diet of evil. (Sounds ominous, doesn’t it?) I don’t mean Oreos. I mean we need to get rid of the tainted sources of “wisdom” that we plan our lives by. Consider how the Psalmist puts it: “Blessed is the man, who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners, or sit in the seat of mockers” (Psalm 1:1).

Where are we getting our advice from? Do we hang on every word that comes from Oprah’s mouth? Should we follow the “sound” financial advice of our second-cousin Guido who has figured out how to beat the system?

Be careful what you feed yourself. So many people out there offering advice are only pushing deep-fried Twinkies for the soul. You need more than that if your faith is going to survive the long haul.

What do you need? A rich and consistent feeding on the Word of God: “His delight is in the law of the LORD, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Psalm 1:2).

As simple as it sounds to say “read your Bible,” there’s a bit more to it. Richly and consistently feeding on the word of God might look different for each one of us.

Some of us may need to buckle down and commit to reading our Bibles for 15 minutes each day. If you’ve never read the whole Bible, you need to do so. If there’s a book of the Bible you haven’t read in a while, now would be a good time to check it out again. Maybe memorizing verses is where you’re at. We all need to work on obeying the Word of God.

So, dig deep and be consistent. It will be worth it. When those hot and dry seasons in your life blow in, you’ll have your root network developed. Those hard times will blow by as you continue to blossom and bear fruit over the long haul.

— Adam Pivec
5/31/08