We are now on Day 5 of our Deeply Rooted Devotional. Thank you for sticking through with this and I pray that it has been a truly Spiritually enriching experience as we camp out in these two verses!
“its leaves are always green.”
This part of verse 8 is a promise. Receive it as so. Biology was one of my favorite classes in high school and I was really interested the units on plants. While I’ve never had a green thumb, I really do appreciate learning about plant life! We study from a very young age that healthy plants have green leaves. Brown or discoloured leaves are a bad sign. Most of the time, it’s a symptom of a plant not having enough water. They start wilting, turn less green, more yellow and if left long enough without remedy, they will dry up, turn brown and fall off. In one of our science classes, we had to take care of our own house plant and I remember that when we came back from a long weekend, we found that one of my friend’s plant had drooped and wilted. She was quite distressed about it, but the teacher said, don’t worry, it can still be saved. Just give it some water, and it will come back to life. And it sure did! Thankfully, she saved it just in time.
Now, it’s natural that leaves do turn brown and fall off, but it’s not normal for most of the leaves on a tree to turn brown out of season. Leaves don’t suddenly turn brown and fall off immediately. Usually, there are some indications of a dying plant. We need to be aware of these “cries for help” so we can reverse the situation before it gets serious.
Before I keep going, let me clarify that, no, this is not a biology lesson on the life of trees! But I think you know where I’m going with this. God’s word uses illustrations from the natural life to uncover truths in our Spiritual life.
Let’s pause here and think of any indications that your Spiritual life is suffering. Are you feeling dry, worn out and weary? I’ve played a game with my kids to shout a colour out loud when I say a word –– an object, a mood or concept. It’s really fun and insightful to see how our mind connects different feelings and thoughts to different colours. So if I asked you, what colours represent your Spiritual life right now, what would you say?
What is your natural response when we are tired? We know we need sleep and we rest, but even these restful activities can’t give true rest to a weary mind and heart. Only Jesus can give us that kind of rest. Read Matthew 11:28-29.
Trees planted and resting far away from the source of water will be the first to dry up. Their leaves brown and wither away in times of drought. Trees resting by the river will have the clear advantage for survival. Even the same sturdy species of tree will grow differently just because of where they are planted. They may both survive the drought but only the one drinking from the continual source of water will thrive. Their leaves will even be green in the drought!
When we rest in Jesus and seek Him to fill our Spiritual tanks, we will thrive even in the dry Spiritual seasons when we really can’t see any fruit squeezed out from our forbearance. As we keep going by faith and not by sight, the promise that our “leaves will always be green” will be fulfilled. Remember though, that we are not to focus on seeking the promise of green leaves, but seek the One Who promises this.
How often do we we get distracted from seeking God’s face and strive for that green vibrant Spiritual life “just like her/him”. Because we compare ourselves and our faith to others, when our the tips of our leaves are start to turn yellow, what do we do? We try to cover it up; we paint those tips green so that no one will really know what’s going on inside. It’s either a case of pride or guilt. We may be too prideful to think that we can get through this alone without the prayers of our faith community. Or we feel guilty for sharing our burdens, because it may sound like we don’t have enough faith and we really don’t want to bother anyone.
Friends, all that is deception. And deception comes from the enemy of our souls. He wants us to think that we need to look the part of a good Christian all the time. God doesn’t want us to look like a good disciple, God wants us to be a faithful disciple. It’s a continual heart and life transformation from the inside, not a cover up on the outside for our inadequacy. How do we attempt to paint our yellow tips to cover up our inadequate Spiritual life? We strive to be busy doing things that look good and even feel good. Read the full chapter of Matthew 6. Note down what God wants you to see from these verses.
God is sitting me down this season to be still. Don’t try to produce green leaves; don’t try to produce the fruit in my own strength. Stop asking, “When will the fruit come? When will this season end? God is telling me to seek Him, the One who gave the Promise. God is telling me that in Him and with His strength, I can thrive in any season. Abide in Him a day at at time and do not be anxious about to tomorrow. Let Him do the work in me. Re-read Matthew 6:25-34.
What to do today: Take some time to journal your thoughts. Confess any pride or guilt to God. Pray for God to connect you a Biblical faith community on a regular basis so you can grow together with others.
Siree is co-founder and general manager of the Bangkok Christian Discipleship Center. She is a whole-person coach and speaker.