My Tree, Planted By the Waters

This is my favorite scripture:

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. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. - Psalm 1:3-4 (ESV)

Of all the verses about love and forgiveness and mercy in the Bible, none of them quite compare with this one. There's so much about Psalm 1:3-4 that I love: the imagery, the language, the simile.

For one thing, I've always been particularly attracted to trees. I identify with them.

I love their strength and the majesty of them. I'm fascinated by the science of them -- the way they grow, their root systems, the way they live and breathe. I'm in awe of their usefulness: they provide shade on sunny days for us, they provide homes for animals, they provide us with the paper we write on and the books we read, they provide the wood needed to make homes and bridges and bookshelves. And I'm fantastically devasted by how cavalier we are to trim them, cut them down, burn them, destroy them -- all for our own sake.

However, throughout the Bible, trees are spoken of with the same great reverance I have for them (God used a tree as the ultimate source of knowledge of good and evil in Genesis, scriptures use trees as comparisons all over the place, Jesus was crucified on a tree, etc, etc). I do believe God delights in us most -- we are His ultimate creation. However, I think trees come in a very close second.

I was at a church in Crown Point, Indiana, playing a show with my band at the time and after we finished playing, and were getting ready to leave, some of the members of the church decided to pray for each member of the band. When they came to me, a girl prophesied over me and said, "I see you as a tree, standing alone in a field. You are tall, beautiful, majestic, strong. There is a storm and a strong wind coming that is going to blow you sideways. It's going to be so strong that it will bend your trunk until you are parallel with the ground. But if your roots are deep enough and you are strong enough, the storm will cease, the winds will die and you will be brought back to your upright position. If not, your trunk will snap and you will die." Shortly thereafter, I left my church, left my band and became an alcoholic. Guess what happened to my tree?

And this is why I had Josh Richter paint my guitar the way he did -- everytime I pick Addison up to play, I am reminded of this verse: "I am like a tree planted by streams of water." I want to never forget it.

I never want to be standing alone in a field when a gale comes and snaps me in half again; I want to be standing tall and strong, firmly planted by the waters that, everyday, refresh and nourish me. I remember what it was like to feel completely helpless in the midst of life's storms and I remember what happened when I wasn't strong enough to stand up to the winds. In the words of Lindsey Buckingham, "I'm never going back again."

I saw a video of Donald Miller addressing an audience yesterday morning and even though it's only two minutes long, I was captivated by it:

In all honesty, I had never considered this aspect of my favorite verse -- I was always too mesmerized by the language and how I identify with it. But Miller makes an interesting point: tall, strong, majestic trees don't become that way overnight. It is a painfully, woefully long process for a tree to reach its peak. Even a tree's death is prolonged over several years. In this society, it is easy for us to become discouraged when things don't happen immediately. Almost everything is immediately available to us: fast food, high speed internet, bittorrent, thrift shops, get-rich-quick schemes, media. Everything is available to us at minimal time and investment. We all understand that these things may not be the best quality and may not be the best for us, but what do we care so long as we get it now?

That's not the spirituality for me. That's not the faith I want.


  1. Great post! I love trees immensely. But I suppose that's apparent since I now carry one with me everyday...;)

  2. This is one of my favorite scriptures too. I love the preachers take on becoming that tree of righteousness. Very helpful as I often feel frustrated by how long the process takes.