A DRY SEASON
My soul was thirsty, dry, and weak. I felt like I’d been put through a wringer and every last molecule of moisture had been wicked away.
For years I struggled with a chronic condition, and for years I ached for a breakthrough. After yet another disappointment, I was weary from the effort, the wondering, and the waiting. Resignation offered itself as relief from my toil; laying down and admitting defeat seemed like the easiest thing to do.
Like King David did when he was desperate in the desert (Psalm 63:1), I poured out my confusion, pain, and sorrow: “O God! Where are you? My heart and body yearn for your healing touch.” My pleading need and fretful questions tumbled out like laundry from a hamper. Then the words of Jeremiah streamed across my mind: “But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7, NIV).
How I long to be that well-watered and fearless tree! I long to rest in God’s provision and promises and to be fruitful in my relationship with Him. In that moment of reflection, these quiet words stirred my soul: Go deeper. Send your roots down to the living water that will sustain your soul in this time of waiting. Stretch your roots out to Me, the One who quenches your thirst and satisfies your soul.
I pondered God’s invitation. I knew that learning to more deeply abide in Christ was the only viable option. But how? How exactly do I go deeper? I decided to look more closely at Jeremiah’s confident tree for clues.
WHAT ROOTS REQUIRE
I started to read about trees, and I learned that in order to become deeply rooted, they need three key things: soil that is not too compact, water, and oxygen.
Roots thrive in loose soil. If the soil is too hard, they will not be able to penetrate very deep into the ground. This can impair a tree’s stability, its growth, and its ability to uptake nutrients, including oxygen.
Water is needed to make food and perform other chemical reactions necessary for life. If a tree isn’t able to keep up with its need for water, its leaves will begin to wilt, lose color, curl, and fall off. For fruit trees, lack of water may result in fruit of poor quality, and the tree may drop its fruit before it ripens.
The final ingredient for growing deep roots—oxygen—may come as a bit of a surprise. Most people know that plants consume carbon dioxide and release oxygen, but they also absorb oxygen through a process called respiration. Oxygen is vital because trees use it to turn food into energy.
As I contemplated my newfound knowledge of tree roots, I began to see parallels between their need for adequate soil, water, and oxygen and our relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We need connection with all three personalities of our triune God to be as healthy, fruitful, and vigorous as possible.
FATHER GOD, THE SOIL OF LOVE
The love of Father God is the soil our roots rest in, the medium that promotes optimal growth. In Ephesians 3:17 (TLB) Paul prays, “May your roots go down deep into the soil of God’s marvelous love.” God’s love drives fear from our hearts, empowers faith, and motivates us to share our lives with others. Love literally grounds us, stabilizing and steadying us in the reality of who God is, in and for us.
Rooting ourselves in God’s love means becoming students of His devotion. Every day we are enveloped with lovely, unique, and individualized signs of His affection. We are the most treasured creatures on earth, yet we so often gloss over His acts of tenderness. I’ve found that when I take the time to ask, “Father, how are you showing me love today?” I inevitably encounter evidence of His care for me. It might be something as simple as the fragrance of my favorite flower, an uplifting card in the mail, or the elegant solution to a tricky problem. When we ask, seek, and notice, we find and receive His love.
JESUS CHRIST, THE LIVING WATER
Jesus is the living water our souls crave. In His willingness and longing to satisfy our need, He implores us to imbibe deeply, saying, “Let anyone who is thirsty come to Me and drink” (John 7:37, NIV). Because Jesus is the Water and Jesus is the Word, one of the best ways to draw close to Him is through the written Word, the Holy Scriptures.
As we meditate, memorize, and research, His Word reveals thoughts, attitudes, and beliefs that contradict His truth. As unbelief is brought to light, we are given the opportunity to weed out false thinking and replace it with Words of life. When we feel deprived or that we lack purpose, Jesus reveals His plan for us and reminds us of His promises and provisions. As we read, we are cleansed and encouraged, our minds are renewed, and we are transformed, becoming more like Christ. His whispers of reassurance quench our parched hearts, and, in time, dry places become fertile.
HOLY SPIRIT, BREATH OF LIFE
Speaking of the Spirit of God, Job said, “The breath of the Almighty gives me life” (Job 33:4, NIV). In the natural, trees and humans need the breath of oxygen to respire. But to flourish spiritually, we need to be animated by the breath of the Holy Spirit. As we connect with the Spirit, He cultivates in us a succulent harvest of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. He strengthens us, guides us, and intercedes for us.
“God is spirit, and his worshipers must worship in the Spirit and in truth” (John 4:24, NIV). A powerful way to engage His presence is through an expression of our own breath, such as song, vocalizations, or words of gratitude. Like wind instruments that produce beautiful sounds only through intimate connection with the musician’s breath, we can produce a lovely melody only through partnership with our Breath of Life. In a holy exchange of His breath and ours, the Spirit fills us. As we exhale our praise we empty ourselves to be properly filled again.
Being rooted means being deeply rested, deeply watered, and full of life. Seeking and receiving God’s love, reading and meditating on His word, and praising and thanking Him are just some of the many avenues God has provided for us to develop intimacy and receive nurturance from Him. Even in dry and faded seasons, if we turn our faces from our visible condition and instead seek communion with our good God, we will experience relief and can receive all we need for a vibrant life.
As I continue on this sojourn of faith, hope, and healing, I endeavor to become like Jeremiah’s tree planted by water: never worried, always fruitful. On my hardest days, when I feel withered and dehydrated, I remind myself to go deeper, to stretch myself into the Father, Son, and the Holy Spirit. I resolve to root myself in His love, soak in His Word and be filled with His breath. In these moments, His reassurances revitalize my soul and give me the strength to go on, confident that He will enable me to thrive even amid dry desert seasons.
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