By Evan Pyle

For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters,
and that spreadeth out her roots by the river,
and shall not see when heat cometh,
but her leaf shall be green;
and shall not be careful in the year of drought,
neither shall cease from yielding fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:8)

I have often reflected on this verse when pulling weeds, many of which are unwelcome seedling trees. Perhaps squirrels buried the acorns for winter sustenance, or perhaps the seeds happened to float into the flowerbeds on those neat “helicopter wings.” In either case, by the time I come to pull out the little 3 or 4- inch seedling, it has well rooted itself into the earth. The fragile sprout belies the fat and gnarled root that anchors it. If the ground is dry, the plant will break off long before the root will come out of the ground. In time the sprout will return but with an ever larger root supporting it and resisting my efforts to uproot it.

These little seedlings remind me of the man who trusts in the Lord and is depicted as a tree by Jeremiah. He is planted in a good location, just beside the river of living waters. He becomes “rooted and built up in him” and “rooted and grounded in love” (Col. 2:7; Eph. 3:17).

When the drought comes, as it inevitably does, the deeply rooted believer survives and flourishes. In dry times he brings forth fruit even as he does in well-watered times. There is a depth to him that reaches all the way to living waters. Regardless of circumstances his leaf does not wither and he continues to bear good fruit. When adversity strikes, how deep into Christ are my roots? Do I wither in the face of trouble?

Proverbs 24:10:
If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small.

When we lean on the “arm of flesh” and trust in man, our strength indeed is small. Our broken cistern is found to be dry and our leaf withers. In our hearts we want to serve the Lord but we forget it only can be done in his strength. We try harder and harder and harder and it seems all we get in return is a dry arid spiritual life.

Psalm 32:4:
For day and night thy hand was heavy upon me: my moisture is turned into the drought of summer. Selah.

Yet in the next verse, the Lord provides the divine remedy. There is nothing so refreshing and energizing as to be washed clean from our sins. The parched places are again flooded with living water and we again enjoy blessed communion with our Lord. We again hear his voice, guiding us in the way we should go.

Psalm 32:5, 8:
I acknowledged my sin unto thee, and mine iniquity have I not hid. I said, I will confess my transgressions unto the Lord; and thou forgavest the iniquity of my sin. Selah.

8 I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will guide thee with mine eye.

How often I have found myself in a dry season. I can see no way out. No matter what I try I seem to be in a continual funk. Where is that spark of delight in God’s presence, in his Word? Eventually my malaise turns into despair and I cry out to the Lord. I confess my sin and he restores my soul. Suddenly I am enjoying blessed communion with the Lord. That is when I always wonder what took me so long? Why didn’t I cry out to him in the beginning? In reality I was not waiting for God to change my condition, He was waiting for me.

The woman at the well was lost in sin and dwelling in a parched place. Though she drew physical water from a hallowed well, her soul was like the dry chaff blown by the wind. But then she met the Fountain of Living Waters who proceeded to open her eyes and show her the way.

John 4:10:
Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water.

The living water that Jesus gives has refreshed the parched tongues of God’s people throughout history. The rock that Moses struck was clearly a picture of the Christ to come.

Exodus 17:3, 6:
And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst?

6 Behold, I will stand before thee there upon the rock in Horeb; and thou shalt smite the rock, and there shall come water out of it, that the people may drink. And Moses did so in the sight of the elders of Israel.

As far back as the Garden of Eden, a spring that parts into four rivers represented the River of Life for humankind. Our Rock, the Fountain of Living Waters has always been God’s plan of redemption for lost man.

Genesis 2:10:
And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from thence it was parted, and became into four heads.

When the Magi journeyed through the harsh deserts of the Middle East to seek the King of kings, they found the One who became an oasis from all that is dried and fruitless in the world. In this holiday season may we be like the Magi. Yes, we often dwell in a desert country, but the journey to Jesus is worth the effort. In fact, it is the only effort worth making. May we be faithful followers until we reach our heavenly shores.

Revelation 22:1:
And he shewed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding out of the throne of God and of the Lamb.

Meanwhile we walk in this imperfect world. Yet we are chosen of God to fulfill our calling before Him. I have found that one thing that prevents believers from doing this is the chaos of life in the world. It seems we have so many options, so much to do and so many demands that we lose our peace. We become fearful and disturbed. These are the times we most need to seek our Shepherd who will safely lead us to still waters.

Psalm 23:2-3:
He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: he leadeth me beside the still waters.
3 He restoreth my soul: he leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for his name’s sake.

Isaiah 55:1:
Ho, every one that thirsteth, come ye to the waters, and he that hath no money; come ye, buy, and eat; yea, come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.

Psalm 36:7-8:
How excellent is thy lovingkindness, O God! therefore the children of men put their trust under the shadow of thy wings.
8 They shall be abundantly satisfied with the fatness of thy house; and thou shalt make them drink of the river of thy pleasures.



From the December 2003 issue of The Vine & Branches