A Tree Planted by the Waterside
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They 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 a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
Jeremiah 17:7-8 (NIVUK)
A yew tree in a churchyard in the village of Ashbrittle, Somerset has a good claim to being England’s oldest tree and also England’s oldest living thing. It is believed to be about 3-4000 years old and to have been planted in the Bronze Age and pre-dates Stonehenge. It is thought to have been deliberately planted near to a spring which now runs under the altar of the adjacent church. The evergreen canopy, which currently spans some 40 feet, has survived the extremes of weather, droughts, heavy rain, hail and snowfall. In the past it may have been planted as a symbol of everlasting life but now it is showing signs of distress with some branches bereft of leaves. The yew may recover but eventually it must come to the end of its finite life.
As the above scripture shows, the prophet Jeremiah uses a simile that pictures an individual who trusts in and has a relationship with God to be spiritually like a flourishing tree planted by a stream and bearing fruit. This analogy is still valid today. The Christian is not like a tree that has grown from a seed that fell randomly to the ground and germinated where it landed, and where its survival is a matter of time and chance. The Christian has been deliberately planted by God in a favourable place, in Christ and also in his church, to be nourished by a stream of living water—God’s Holy Spirit. In this environment the individual is able to grow and develop and put down deep spiritual roots. Deeply rooted in Christ and nourished by the Holy Spirit the Christian is able to withstand the heat of the day, the trials and tribulations of life, and bear spiritual fruit in both good and bad times.
Unlike the yew tree, which has a finite life, those planted in Christ, who trust and follow him, are given the assurance of eternal life. As Jesus stated in John 10:27-28, “My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me. I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one will snatch them out of my hand.”
Father, we thank you that in Christ we have the fellowship with you through the Holy Spirit and with one another in the church. Help us to spread the good news of salvation through Jesus Christ that others may also share in this fellowship.
Study by Eddie Marsh
Grace Communion, Sheffield
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