shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings
forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and
whatever he does shall prosper” (Psalm 1:3)
As we drove through the
Texas Panhandle last week, we saw lots of “dead” bushes, along with
an occasional “dead” tree. It is possible they’re not dead, but
just dormant, waiting for spring rains; though it had recently
rained and the shrubs next to the road still looked “dead” for many
miles. Then, in the middle of “nowhere,” we saw a lush green tree,
tall and full as though tended by a careful gardener. Why in this
bleakness did that one tree manage to do so well?
The answer is obvious as
reflected in the first Psalm – The tree has access to water! And
though we did not see any “rivers”
in relation to this tree, it was obvious that water was the source
of its life. There is no other explanation. The tree had sunk its
roots into hidden “rivers of water”
under the ground. The proof is in the lush green of that tree!
The writer of the first
Psalm spoke of such a tree, comparing it with the person “whose
delight is in the law of the Lord,” meditating on it “day
and night” (Psalm 1:2). The Psalmist was motivated by the
same Holy Spirit who prompted Jeremiah to cry out: “Blessed
is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is the Lord, for
he shall be like a tree planted by the waters, which spreads out its
roots by the river… (Jeremiah 17:7-8). We are challenged to
meditate in His Word, for in it we will find HIM who is the source
of all life, offering refreshment and LIFE – Forever! We are to
TRUST in the Lord.
Sometimes the waters He
sends can seem to be too much, like the storms we met on the next
evening while continuing east along Highway 40 through Arkansas.
This highway, we learned, is called “Tornado
Alley” by local radio newscasters. They spoke of tornados
that were nearby at that moment. We also learned on the car radio
of “golf ball sized hail stones”
just to the north, and they spoke of “baseball
sized” frozen missiles to the south. The rain was coming
down so heavily that the wipers no longer could clear the
windshield. We had almost no visibility except when lightning
flashed, but couldn’t stop because of the large trucks surrounding
us that suddenly went from 75-miles per hour to somewhere between 5
and 20, displaying hazard lights as they slowed. Some drifted from
lane-to-lane and others stopped altogether, which was dangerous,
because the narrow “shoulder” at the side the road was next to some
kind of drop-off. Was it just a ditch or a sheer cliff? We could
not see and did not know.
I was traveling with
Candice, Lt. Daniel Douglass’ wife, in Daniel’s pickup truck. He
had already returned to Quantico, Virginia, for six more months of
officer training. His orders had finally come through and Candice
was able to get most of their possessions packed and into a moving
van. The rest was crammed into the back seat and bed of the truck,
along with Scratch the dog, who had a comfortable bed next to the
cab. Candice’s mother and Daniel hoped for someone to accompany
her, and I had volunteered.
It’s interesting to note
that we had been praying for clear skies for two days. “Keep
the rain drops away from our windshield” we prayed, and I had
confidence He would do just that. A couple of months previously, my
wife, Genevieve and I had prayed that prayer, in relation to our
drive to Las Vegas, Nevada and back; and though storms raged all
around us, we stayed essentially dry for the whole trip.
This time it was
different, for the pickup truck in which we rode was covered with
deafening rain and hail, and the concern was especially for Scratch
the dog, in the open bed at the rear of the truck. After trying to
drive through the storm for a few minutes, we agreed to stop, and I
went out the passenger door, trying to not slip and fall into the
blackness that went down from the edge of the road.
At the back of the truck,
I yelled at Scratch to “Come” and took his collar, essentially
pulling him off the gate, intending to run with him to the
still-open passenger door. Scratch, who is half Labrador and half
Rottweiler, wasn’t fully cooperating and he’s large enough so that
he nearly dislocated my wrist, but I switched hands, pulling him
toward the passenger door and out of the rain. There wasn’t room
for both of us in the passenger seat, but, pumping so much adrenalin
that it must have squirted out of my ears, I held him in a
combination of an embrace and a wrestling hold – We were inside,
82-pound Scratch and I, and we even managed to get the door closed!
Candice drove on through the downpour!
Then, in the middle of
nowhere was a sign! An off-ramp! “Lodging”
the sign said, and we were winding up the ramp toward the only hotel
in sight, which included on its sign the very welcome words, “Dogs
Permitted!” We were in!
In our First Church On The
Net, we are continuing a Bible study in the Book of Revelation and I
have certain commentaries that are helpful for that study. A
favorite is one by the “Very” Rev. H.D.M. Spence and Rev. Joseph S.
Exell, written 100 or so years ago. I managed to get some studying
done on the trip and was especially intrigued by Exell’s words, as I
pondered why our prayers for a dry, safe trip had “not been
answered.” Here’s a quote from Exell: “The
foreknowledge of God is an infinite power of the calculation of
chances.” In other words, God is omniscient – He does know
everything that will happen. But we also really do have free
choice. We can do whatever we want, and He knows every possible
outcome in our lives. He knew what was ahead on Highway 40.
Our real need on the way
from California to Virginia was not to be dry, but was actually to
stop and be SAFE! The rain STOPPED us, took us off the road, and
God, who knew what was ahead of us, prevented whatever it was from
happening. By allowing the storm to hit us & stop us, we were in a
warm hotel. The hail struck the roof, but we were safe inside.
How often has the “storm”
hit your life and/or the lives of those you love, and you wonder, “Why
didn’t God answer my prayer?” It’s a good question and God,
who knows our hearts, has the answer. He does not mind your
questions and hopes you will ask them. Let yourself be “planted
by the rivers of water” – Search His Word, reach out to Him,
and you will “prosper” in subtle,
wonderful ways that only you and He will fully understand.
Father, give me a heart
for Your Word. Teach me to pray. Let my roots be in You. Give me
Your living water. I trust in Your Son and thank You. In Jesus