Fifty years ago, Katy, Texas was a small rice farming community seated in the middle of raw prairie land and rice fields. The family home of my childhood was built on a piece of this bare treeless prairie, in north Katy. My dad, a natural born arborist, was passionate about trees. Shortly after our home was built, he began hauling in many different varieties of trees to improve our yard and play area. They were not nursery-grown nor were they sizeable. The trees he brought home, he shoveled by hand out of a road ditch, a creek bed, or a farm fence row. Before dementia affected his mind several years ago, Dad could tell you where each of the now matured trees, mostly oaks, was harvested around the greater Houston area. Some were small and fragile, twigs, nursed along for a few months in a 5 gallon bucket until Dad pronounced his prize ready for transplant. Other trees that were a little more established when he found them, would be carefully placed, bare-rooted in the back of his pick-up truck, planted and watered immediately upon arrival at home in the evening.
During the summer, Dad assigned my sister, Jill and me the job of watering every tree by hand daily. For two young elementary aged girls, this was a hot, burdensome job that seemed to take hours. Jill and I drug a water hose back and forth, across the one-acre yard, stopping at the base of each small trunk for several minutes. A few trees, planted at a distance that the hose could not reach, required us to double up to carry a bucket to pour out on the parched ground. Dad taught us the importance of soaking the ground thoroughly so that the life sustaining water would reach deep into the soil establishing a strong root system which allowed the tree to withstand the changing seasons year after year. He spoke to us about the value in keeping the trees alive so that one day our own children would have large shade trees to play beneath. It was our job to be faithful in the daily task of watering.
As a young girl, I couldn’t grasp the concept of ever having my own children or imagine how it would be possible for those small one to five foot trees to ever provide a canopy of shade for any child. However, it has now been forty-eight years since the first tree was planted. Not only did our children play for many years beneath the shade of these very large trees as Dad promised, but now our children’s children enjoy the same shade from the deeply rooted, mature beauties that my sister and I laboriously watered two generations ago.
Much like the trees in the yard of my childhood home, God wants His children to daily water their roots with His word. By soaking our root system in the living water that is provided by regular study of the scriptures, we will leave a legacy of mighty oaks for generations to come. Jesus Christ is the stream of living water. It is through the nourishment of this living water that we grow spiritually. By becoming the well-established tree rooted in Christ, we will be able to withstand the storms and trials unique to each season.
Today, where do you find yourself? Are you a dried bush in the wastelands? Have you been dwelling in the parched places of the desert, in a salt land? Or, were you once a vibrant, fruit-producing tree that has been choked out by moss or pestilence, as you have allowed sin to creep in? Have you been trusting in yourself or something other than Jesus Christ? Maybe you are a new sapling, having recently received Christ as your savior and are just beginning to take root. Possibly, you are a more mature tree with a long taproot with your leaves a little charred on the edges in need of a refreshing five gallon bucket of water poured on your parched soil. We should all strive to be like the tree planted by the water to be counted on to weather the storms of life because the storms of life will come.
A storm that has recently invaded my life is the storm of losing both of my parents; one to death and one to Alzheimer’s. After a 19 month courageous battle with lung Cancer, my mother passed away leaving behind my 80 year old dad who’s memory has been on a steady decline for the past ten years. As Nancy Reagan said about her husband, former President Ronald Reagan, who also suffered from Alzheimer’s, “It’s a slow good-bye”. Dad’s world has steadily become very small as he has forgotten almost everything he once knew including the names of trees. Some days, he forgets me.
It has been difficult, at times very trying, and extremely sad these past two years for me. The role reversal of being their child to becoming the parent, broke my heart. I had to step up to make decisions for my parents and their health care as well as watching them both deteriorate to the point of death for my mother. However, through this health storm with my mother and dad, I have leaned heavily upon the Lord to find peace. By drinking daily from the stream of living water, we all find peace and our lifeline to spiritual growth and maturity in Christ.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 says: Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought for it does not cease to bear fruit.
I encourage you to decide in your heart, that you are going to seek the stream of life, the refreshing living water, and become the mighty shade tree of protection and good fruit to those around you as God intended you to be. Allow your roots to grow deep and become His tree, planted by the stream of living water so that when the storms of life come…you will not be moved.