Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Reflections on the Tree of LIfe: the Importance of Water

Everyone who knows me knows that I love water! I always have a water bottle with me. In fact, if I get separated from water, I actually get anxious. The first thing I do after going through security at an airport is go to the nearest store and buy two bottles of water: one to drink on the plane and one for when I deplane.

I am not the only one who loves water. Trees love water and actually begin to wither when they are deprived of it. The writer of the first Psalm knew this and wrote about it when he stated: “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, but they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. 3 They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.” (Ps 1:1-3).

As you know, our visual focus for Missio Lux this year is The Tree of Life. We are discovering all the different components of a tree, and how our lives can reflect a healthy tree when we take care of soil of our inner life with God, deepen our root system through learning to hear his Written and Spirit Voice. One of the ways that we are to sustain healthy life is to soak up the Living Water through our roots.

Jesus told his followers in John 6:35 ”I am the bread of life. Those who come to me will never go hungry, and those who believe in me will never be thirsty.”

He tells us that our encounters with him will quench our thirst for all time. I think about all the other ways that I try to quench my thirst because it often seems easier at times than trying to connect with Jesus. But, in reality, at the end of the day, I still fall into bed thirsty. Nothing satisfies me like the One who promises to quench my thirst for eternity.

I think it is really easy in the US to find “earthly things to satisfy us.” Alcohol, prescription drugs, materialism, even relationships can all be attempts to fill the void God created us to have. We have enough “stuff” to distract us very often for a very long time.

But, usually, at some time in our life, we are given an opportunity to recognize that the earthly attempts at quenching our thirst aren’t going to cut it. We will still be extremely dehydrated and if we don’t get filled, we think that we might die.

These “opportunities” come in many forms: a challenge at work, a crisis in our marriage, a death in our family, trauma, the word cancer; the list goes on.

Yesterday as I was contemplating all this, I felt directed to read Ezekial 47.

In my vision, the man brought me back to the entrance of the Temple. There I saw a stream flowing east from beneath the door of the Temple and passing to the right of the altar on its south side. 2 The man brought me outside the wall through the north gateway and led me around to the eastern entrance. There I could see the water flowing out through the south side of the east gateway.
3 Measuring as he went, he took me along the stream for 1,750 feet[a] and then led me across. The water was up to my ankles. 4 He measured off another 1,750 feet and led me across again. This time the water was up to my knees. After another 1,750 feet, it was up to my waist. 5 Then he measured another 1,750 feet, and the river was too deep to walk across. It was deep enough to swim in, but too deep to walk through.
6 He asked me, “Have you been watching, son of man?” Then he led me back along the riverbank. 7 When I returned, I was surprised by the sight of many trees growing on both sides of the river. 8 Then he said to me, “This river flows east through the desert into the valley of the Dead Sea.[b] The waters of this stream will make the salty waters of the Dead Sea fresh and pure. 9 There will be swarms of living things wherever the water of this river flows. Fish will abound in the Dead Sea, for its waters will become fresh. Life will flourish wherever this water flows. 10 Fishermen will stand along the shores of the Dead Sea. All the way from En-gedi to En-eglaim, the shores will be covered with nets drying in the sun. Fish of every kind will fill the Dead Sea, just as they fill the Mediterranean.[c] 11 But the marshes and swamps will not be purified; they will still be salty. 12 Fruit trees of all kinds will grow along both sides of the river. The leaves of these trees will never turn brown and fall, and there will always be fruit on their branches. There will be a new crop every month, for they are watered by the river flowing from the Temple. The fruit will be for food and the leaves for healing.”

It’s all about water.

Ezekial got in the water of life and it started as a trickle, then went to his knees and to his waist, finally getting to the place where he could no longer stand, he had to swim! This reminds me that when I give up control and start to swim in the ways of Jesus, I get to experience the adventurous life!

There is transformation in the water. The salty water of the Dead Sea comes to life as it becomes pure water and life begins to happen again. The dead fish become live fish!

Life will flourish wherever this river flows. Imagine the trees lining the shores of the river. They are beautiful, grand and stately, and they are tall! The amazing thing about these trees is that they have fruit that harvest every month! Psalm 1 tells us that its trees bear fruit in their season, but when we swim in the River of Life that Jesus gives us to us, we will harvest and harvest and harvest fruit!

When you think about what you want your life to count for; isn’t that it? To know that our lives made an impact upon another? Wouldn’t it be awesome to die knowing that we were able to start a whole orchard that multiplied many times over?

We were created to be thirsty, but it goes beyond our bodies. Our spirit cries out to be in the river of life that only Jesus can provide.

Take an hour this week to spend in the river. Go to a place that calms you. Begin to dream about what your river is and what the fruit you desire to produce from your tree can be. Consider if this is the fruit that is truly growing on your tree.

If it isn’t, what changes do you want to make?

Joshua told the Israelites to “Choose life or choose death.” Today, make a choice for life; for the abundant life Jesus offers to everyone that is willing to dive into the water and take a swim.

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