Re-Planted By a Stream (Psalm 1)

The truly happy person
    doesn’t follow wicked advice,
    doesn’t stand on the road of sinners,
    and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.
Instead of doing those things,
    these persons love the Lord’s Instruction,
    and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!
They are like a tree replanted by streams of water,
    which bears fruit at just the right time
    and whose leaves don’t fade.
        Whatever they do succeeds.

That’s not true for the wicked!
    They are like dust that the wind blows away.
And that’s why the wicked will have no standing in the court of justice—
    neither will sinners
    in the assembly of the righteous.
The Lord is intimately acquainted
    with the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked is destroyed.
(Psalm 1:1-6, Common English Bible).

Today I am starting a series of posts that will take us through the Psalms. For me, at least, doing this blog requires some kind of plan. The times I have been without a plan also have been the times I have struggled most to leave a post each day. If there is something that happens along in the world or even at home, I will interrupt the series but get back to it as soon as the situation allows.

I love trees. It is one of the things I love about living in Deep East Texas. There are trees EVERYWHERE. Trees are all over my yard. And, where you find trees, you also find life.

In his book Soul Keeping, John Ortberg devotes the prologue to a story, a parable if you will. I would like to share that with you now.

There once was a town high in the Alps that straddled the banks of a beautiful stream. The stream was fed by springs that were old as the earth and deep as the sea.

The water was clear like crystal. Children laughed and played beside it; swans and geese swam on it. You could seethe rocks and the sand and the rainbow trout that swarmed at the bottom of the stream.

High in the hills, far beyond anyone’s sight, lived an old man who served as Keeper of the Springs. He had been hired so long ago that now no one could remember a time when he wasn’t there. He would travel from one spring to another in the hills, removing branches or fallen leaves or debris that might pollute the water. But his work was unseen.

One year the town council decided they had better things to do with their money. No one supervised the old man anyway. They had roads to repair and taxes to collect and services to offer, and giving money to an unseen stream-cleaner had become a luxury they could no longer afford.

So the old man left his post. High in the mountains, the springs went untended; twigs and branches and worse muddied the liquid flow. Mud and silt compacted the creek bed; farm wastes turned parts of the stream into stagnant bogs.

For a time no one in the village noticed. But after a while, the water was not the same. It began to look brackish. The swans flew away to live elsewhere. The water no longer had a crisp scent that drew children to play by it. Some people in the town began to grow ill. All noticed the loss of sparkling beauty that used to flow between the banks of the streams that fed the town. The life of the village depended on the stream, and the life of the stream depended on the keeper.

The city council reconvened, the money was found, the old man was rehired. After yet another time, the springs were cleaned, the stream was pure, children played again on its banks, illness was replaced by health, the swans came home,and the village came back to life. The life of a village depended on the health of the stream. The stream is your soul. And you are the keeper.

I think that is what the psalmist is talking about in our lesson. The psalmist uses the word “replanted” here. I love that. More often than not, a tree doesn’t come to us in the form of a seed we plant and it grows to a full size tree. That does happen and it is exactly what happens when the Forest Service elects to clear cut and let the forest grow back naturally.

Trees start from a seed. But, for most of us, if we plant a tree, we buy a tree that is already planted and growing. Most of us buy a tree from a nursery and it has a bag around the roots, we carry it home, dig a hole and plant it in the ground. Then, at least for a time, we care for that tree. We water it and fertilize it. We prune it and work to keep the bugs out. Sometimes we will even graft parts of two trees together.

Its in the details and it is about the care. We need to pay more attention to our souls than we pay attention to a tree. You can make a real difference. You can bear fruit. But you also cannot neglect your soul. The overall condition of your soul is up to you. To quote Ortberg one more time. Never forget, “You are the keeper” [of your soul].

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Seeking the Genuine,

Copyright 2020, J. Keith Broyles, All Rights Reserved


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