What does it mean to be deeply-rooted in God, the source of our life and strength? What does that look and feel like? How do you draw upon that source when you need it?
One of my favorite places to visit is Fort Davis in the Davis Mountains of Texas. Nearby, there’s a stream bed beside the road that is dry most of the time. You can clearly see where the creek bed runs, and along the bank of this dry stream bed there are a number of cottonwood trees. These tall and healthy trees are grouped together in that particular place because even though there’s usually no visible water, their roots reach down far enough to connect with the water source that runs deep beneath the surface.
That unseen water source keeps them thriving in this dry and desolate ground flourishing along this path where everything else is scrub brush.
In our scripture for this week, the Prophet Jeremiah uses this same kind of imagery to describe our reliance on God. Our growth, strength, and vitality also come from a deep and unseen place. When we place our ultimate trust in God, this source likewise sustains us, even in times when our life feels like a parched and barren wilderness.
There are a lot of things in our world today competing for our trust. And, to be fair, there are a lot of things upon which we can rely. But Jeremiah’s message is that ultimately, it’s God who is the source of life. Putting our trust in God puts down our deepest roots, enabling us to reach this very source of our life.
Jeremiah is clearly challenging us there. Where do we place our ultimate trust? Do we recognize this place of complete trust as the source of all life? What does that mean in practical terms in how we live our lives and make our decisions day after day?
There’s an old spiritual, “Like a Tree That Planted by the Water We Shall Not Be Moved” that echoes this same image. And in Ephesians 3:16-21 we remember that we are rooted and grounded in love.
Ephesians also points us to a prayer that helps us answer that question of how to make God the source of our life, putting into words how we may anchor our lives: “I pray that, according to the riches of his glory, he may grant that you may be strengthened in your inner being with power through his Spirit, and that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, as you are being rooted and grounded in love. I pray that you may have the power to comprehend, with all the saints, what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. . .”
We can be, like those cottonwood trees, “rooted and grounded,” connected to a deep and limitless source. I invite you to think with me this week about what keeps you feeling strong and steady and grounded. What nourishes you when the landscape of your life seems dry and barren?
I look forward to exploring these ideas with you this Sunday in the Sanctuary.
Grace and Peace,
Dr. Tim Bruster
Jeremiah 17:5-8 Common English Bible (CEB)
The Lord proclaims: Cursed are those who trust in mere humans, who depend on human strength and turn their hearts from the Lord. They will be like a desert shrub that doesn’t know when relief comes. They will live in the parched places of the wilderness, in a barren land where no one survives. Happy are those who trust in the Lord, who rely on the Lord. They will be like trees planted by the streams, whose roots reach down to the water. They won’t fear drought when it comes; their leaves will remain green. They won’t be stressed in the time of drought or fail to bear fruit.