As I look out at the trees, now void of leaves on this brisk December day, I am reminded of the story that is framed and hung in the hallway of Heritage Counseling Center. It is a fable about a young tree whose leaves are starting to change color and the tree feels confused and frightened. The tree talks to God about what is happening. It is a great analogy to what we often feel when changes happen outside of our control. A copy of the story is available at Heritage. You can ask for one at the office or any counselor can get one for you.
There are so many great tree analogies. I like the verse in Jeremiah (7:22), which says, “Those who trust in the Lord and whose confidence is in Him will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in the year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” When I think of our roots going down deep into the ground, I think of being rooted and grounded in Christ. I believe that this is what gives us the rich spiritual nourishment we need to make us the strong and healthy, able to withstand any storm or wind that comes our way.
The idea of a tree bearing fruit is also mentioned in the Bible, indicating our spiritual growth and the evidence of our faith in Christ. In Matthew 7:20, Jesus talks about good fruit and bad fruit being shown in people when He says, “By their fruits you shall know them.” Them refers to those who demonstrate the character qualities that God desires in us. And what exactly are these qualities or good fruits that Jesus is talking about? Galatians 5:22 explains it clearly. “The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” On our own these fruits can be hard to come by. Patience and gentleness are not always easy. And the Bible teaches that joy is not based on circumstances. God is the one who can bring these qualities about in us when we can’t. Left to ourselves we are inconsistent in our abilities to maintain them. But with God working in us through the Holy Spirit we can. As we spend time with the Lord, meditating on his Word and praying, these fruits will blossom and grow in us.
May each of you who reads this, grow strong in the Lord and in the power of his love with deep roots and may you bear the ripest and best of fruits!