Growing By the Stream

But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree
planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Psalm 1:2-3 ESV

Having spent most of my career working on trees, I learned that the American Sycamore is the largest deciduous tree in North America. Though its wood is not very good for furniture or firewood, its multi-colored peeling bark and beautiful open branches make it a tree that people love. One of the other amazing things about the sycamore is its choice of habitat. In regions that are heavily forested, you may travel for miles without spotting a single one. But when you come to the riverbank, you will find hundreds. That is because God has built into its DNA the desire to send its roots out along the edge of the rushing waters and deep into the soil around that stream.

Photo by JMarc Sire on

In today’s verse, David paints us a picture of a person, who by meditating on God’s word can be like just that Sycamore. He chooses to live, not just in the same general area as the stream, but right on the edge. This is not just a, “I’ll stop by on Sunday for a sip or two.” lifestyle. This is a, “When I wake in the morning, the first thing I need is to hear is God’s voice.” relationship. The sycamore grows to be the largest by its daily dependence on the river. Secondly, the sycamore grows in such a way that it never withers. Even when the surrounding countryside is decimated by drought it just keeps growing and, “Its leaf also does not wither.” We need this kind of fellowship with Jesus when we are going through tough times. Without being daily immersed in God’s promises, we may hold on to being a Christian, but lose the fruitfulness and the joy. We need the kind of fruitfulness that doesn’t stop even during times of war, earthquakes or political upheaval. It doesn’t stop, because its source flows from the throne of God in Heaven! Last of all, God promises that anyone who remains rooted and meditating on His word, will prosper. This doesn’t mean money in the bank, safety in disasters or acclaim by others. This prosperity is the ability to do everything that God calls us to do today. Has God asked you to bake a cake for your neighbor, fix your grandmother’s car or visit a friend in the jail? He will help the cake to rise, give the ability to change the brakes and at the check in window at the prison, give favor with the guards. God does this, without any special performance on our part, because His blessing comes by grace that flows from Calvary. He asks us to be like that tree by fully trusting in Jesus Christ, not just for salvation but for everything in life. Then we can grow by the banks of the river of His word and remain delightedly rooted forever in Him!

A Morning Prayer

In our Bible reading together we have recently been going through the life of the prophet Samuel and how he was instructed to anoint Saul as king over Israel. We encounter Saul as a nice young man full of hope and potential. How sad it is that once given high position and the blessings of God that he soon failed, broke Samuel’s heart and missed the path that God wanted him to walk.

Saul’s failure was that, while he was respectful and well liked, he never had a personal connection with God. He was always just trying his best to serve Samuel’s God. How different the heart of David, who longed to know and serve God long before he was called to be king. Watching over his father’s sheep while he was still a teenager, David prayed to really know God and learn the path God wanted him to walk. Sure David had plenty of his own failures but he never stopped longing to know and please God. These verses from Psalm 25 are often central to my own morning prayers. A few years back I wrote this song based on those verses and I pray the words and music may awaken your own hearts to really seek God and His ways today. Only He knows the path on which each of us are called to walk today!

In Praise of Cursive Writing

Back in the days of quill pens and ink wells, Charles Dickens began his writing career first as a court stenographer and then a reporter on the daily activities of the English Parliament. Maybe the interesting array of the names of his characters arose from the parade of plaintiffs and lawyers he met while scratching away with his pen. In our age of word processing, when most of us barely recall typing, much less cursive writing, it is hard to imagine Leo Tolstoy penning over 1,000 pages of War and Peace or Shakespeare churning out 38 plays and hundreds of sonnets.

Photo by Min An on

And yet, we call ourselves writers, with a winsome nod to the true writing of a past filled with ink splotched pages and crossed out lines. But there in that disorderly process, there lived a richness of creativity with circles and arrows, side-by-side with doodles and fanciful drawings in our margins. It was a pace when the work of writing dragged on far slower than racing minds, and allowed us to slowly consider our words as they scrawled out on the page. Without the ability to click “send” or “publish now” we possessed an extended moment between imagination and reality and a slower time that worked as a wonderful assistant. It was a time that God granted a holy pasue, so that we could sift through our thoughts and remember that our words have power.

Before God said, “Let there be light!” He had had an eternity to consider what he would do in creation and the exact order in which He would do it in. So, when He spoke those first words – immediately it was so! He has called us to be writers, in His likeness though we are deeply flawed often filled with a mixture of confusion and faith. So, we should be thankful for interruptions, for scratched out lines and the constructive criticisms of friends. In that space between our words, we can reconsider our message and imagine whether others will be encouraged or insulted, stirred to action or lulled to sleep and more importantly we can listen. For if our writing is to be His message for others, then we must hear the whispers of the Word who became flesh at Bethlehem and wonder what He would have us to write today!