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By BARBARA BROWN
I want to be like a tree. In this troubled world I want to stand strong when difficulty blows my way. Where can I find security when bad news dominates the scene? I look at the trees standing tall and firm. They endure for decades and live productive lives. Nothing moves them. How do they do that? God says I can be like a tree and this is how:
(Psalm 1) “How happy is the one whose delight is in the LORD’s instruction,
and he meditates on it day and night. He is like a tree planted beside streams of water
that bears its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither. Whatever he does prospers.”
When I meditate on God’s promises, I can focus on his word. He explains his purpose and his plan for all creation. His instruction becomes the structure and security I crave. I begin to grow strong and rooted in his loving ways. I become like a tree.
One large tree can lift up to 100 gallons of water out of the ground, and thus it becomes productive, bearing fruit, providing rest or shade, and replenishing oxygen to the air. A tree must have plenty of water, preferably rivers of water. Jesus says I can be like a tree when I drink the never-ending, living water he promised. He was speaking, of course, about spiritual things. The living water Jesus offered was the spirit of life, otherwise known as the spirit of the living God, or Holy Spirit.
I want to be like a tree that lifts someone up when they are struggling in life. Like the tree Zacchaeus climbed. One day, he heard that the great teacher, Jesus, was coming through town. He’d heard numerous accounts of Jesus’ miraculous works. The teacher displayed an authority over sin and sickness like nobody Zacchaeus had ever met before. Zacchaeus felt that he just had to observe such a powerful man. The crowds around Jesus were thick, and Zacchaeus was not as tall as most people. So running ahead, he climbed up a sycamore tree to see Jesus, since Jesus was about to pass that way. (Luke 19:4) And then Jesus looked up into the tree and spoke directly to Zacchaeus. He knew him by name!
Another man found himself face to face with the son of God on a different occasion. Nathanael was a man of faith who knew the promises of God. He grew up learning the accounts of David who defeated the giant Goliath, and of Daniel who trusted God even in the lion’s den. And Nathanael knew God had promised to send a deliverer.
One day he sat beneath a fig tree, and maybe he was praying to God, asking him, “When will you keep your promise, oh Lord? Have you forgotten us, when will you send the mighty deliverer you promised?”
Nathanael didn’t know Jesus had found Philip and told him, “Follow Me!” (John 1) Philip found Nathanael and told him, “We have found the One Moses wrote about in the Law (and so did the prophets): Jesus the son of Joseph, from Nazareth!”
Philip brought Nathanael to Jesus and he received a warm welcome, as if Jesus knew him personally.
“How do you know me?” Nathanael asked.
Jesus replied, “Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you,”
Nathanael was stunned and replied, “You are the Son of God! You are the King of Israel!”
Jesus responded to him, “Do you believe only because I told you I saw you under the fig tree? You will see greater things than this.”
Barbara Brown serves on the ministry team at the Lighthouse Church of God
Perspectives is a regular column sponsored and written by members of the Ketchikan Ministerial Association.