Be Like a Tree

After spending a few frozen days cooped up in our house, I ventured out into the snow-covered world courtesy of my husband and his faithful four-wheel drive vehicle. As he was navigating the hilly country roads, I was marveling at the beauty of the ice-laden landscapes. Everywhere I looked, trees were topped with thick layers of ice and snow. Even with only the filmy winter sun’s appearance, they were dazzling.

After a coating of ice had fallen, multiple inches of wet snow piled on top. Many of the trees’ limbs were bent low to the ground under the increased weight. Other trees had succumbed to the added stress and were surrounded with broken branches at their base, their limbs unable to sustain the storm without injury.

Life is like that sometimes. It comes with storms so harsh and cold that it threatens to shatter me into pieces on the cold, hard ground. Buried beneath the weight of my circumstances, I am overwhelmed. Disappointment, disillusion and heartache pelt against me, piling their heavy load upon my branches. How can I sustain such a storm? How do I bend, not break?

The answer for me lies in the scriptures. Psalm 1: 3 tells me that blessed is the one who meditates on the Word. “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.” In every season I must be connected to the Word. My roots growing deep into its rich soil, fueling my spirit so that it remains tender and pliable.

The book of Psalms is just one of the treasure troves of God’s promises. Promises written to me that feed my faith. They tell of God’s unfailing love and protection. Reminding me that God is an ever-present help in time of trouble delivering me from all my fears. So that whether it’s the blizzard’s blinding breath or the sun’s scorching rays, I can stand tall with supple branches, roots growing deep, drawing my life from the promises of God.

Obedient Hearts

The children in my second grade class were giddy with excitement in anticipation of our Valentine’s party. Controlling the exuberant enthusiasm as we spent our reading time immersed in a Japanese folktale and then later in math computing two-digit subtraction problems was like holding down a boiling pot lid with two hands. Finally the hands on the classroom clock pointed to two o’clock. The explosion of hearts and candy began! Love was definitely in the air and as candy and cards spilled out it was also on the floor!

What would it mean to our lives if we pursued God’s heart the way a typical eight-year-old anticipates a Valentine party? And what does it really mean- to be a man or woman after God’s own heart? We read in Acts 13:22 that King David was a man after God’s own heart. It’s interesting to think that David was the one God chose to describe in those terms. After all, wasn’t David an adulterer? Didn’t David murderously send a good man to the front lines of battle to be killed so that could have his wife? How in the world could he be a man after God’s own heart?

Doctor Luke wrote these words “After removing Saul, he made David their king. God testified concerning him: ‘I have found David son of Jesse, a man after my own heart; he will do everything I want him to do.” David was not a man after God’s own heart because he was perfect, for in fact he was full of sinful behavior. But God said that David was a man after His own heart because David would do everything he wanted him to do. When God called David to do something he responded by doing it. David had a humble and obedient heart.

If we are striving to be men and women after God’s own heart we can look at David, a child of God as an example of the kind of heart God wants us to have- full of faith and obedience. Obedience is not exactly my favorite word when it applies to my own self. It reminds me of bossiness and there’s probably nobody who doesn’t want to be bossed around more than me. And yet, obedience to God is exactly what He asks of me.

Each morning when I wake I pray the same prayer- “Lord, let me be a woman after your own heart today.” I am sure there are people in my life who might be thinking at times- Really? Because you sure aren’t acting like that! But just like every other human being on the planet, I am flawed and in need of a Savior. My intentions are to follow after God’s heart and then well, life happens and I get sidetracked.

In order to truly pursue God I need to firmly plant the Word of God in my heart. So when life happens, my default reaction is not worldly but rooted solidly in the Word. What is displayed in my life is the overflow of what is in my heart. For me to be woman after God’s own heart, my own heart and mind have to be open to what God has to say to me. And when He calls me, I must respond in obedience.

For God will never call me to a place where He has not gone before. I can rest in the knowledge that His grace is sufficient to my every need. Every day may not be filled with hearts and roses, but if I am obediently pursuing God’s own heart it will be abundantly filled with the Father’s grace and love.