Blessed are those who trust in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. They shall be like a tree planted by the water, sending out its roots by the stream. It shall not fear when the heat comes, and its leaves shall stay green. In the year of drought it is not anxious, and it does not cease to bear fruit. – Jeremiah 17:7-8
I live in Northern California, a place of paradox: land of drought and wildfire, and also some of the most beautiful fruit orchards and forests you have ever seen, including trees that are older than Jesus.
The winter after I moved here, the 7-year drought finally broke, as the rain decided to raineth every day. But now a new catastrophe was on our hands: everywhere, trees started toppling, massive root systems upended.
The wind didn’t bring them down. The rain did. Sudden rains after a long drought can result in “soil failure,” as the soaked earth releases its hold on the root system that normally holds a tree steady.
Trees need a steady supply of water, not a deluge every 7 dry years.
And so do people.
In these go-go, driven and anxious times, it can be hard to just stay put. To plant yourself by a stream, and let your roots soak up water and nutrients so that you can keep bearing fruit. The commandment to sabbath urges us to rest and soak up refreshment one day in seven—not one week in 7 years.
Of course, sabbath is a privilege for those with paid sick leave and money in the bank, who don’t have to go to their side-hustle when the first workday is over. But that doesn’t change God’s intention for us. And God will work to offer us the gift of living water no matter what weather is arrayed against us.
What streams can you plant yourself beside, where can you stop and set down roots, so that you can be evergreen, and fruiting?
God, I’m thirsty. I long for rest. Show me the way to Your water, and give me permission to stay there. Amen.