Like a tree planted by the water

When I logged on to my computer this morning, Facebook decided to share a memory. It was a photo I had posted last August of Sarah after we had moved her into her dorm room for her first year at Elmhurst. A lot can happen in a year and 2020 has been a challenge. Like so many others, her freshman year was cut short. Along with parents of preschoolers through college, we are in the process of packing Sarah up for her return. “Pack light” the school said, “you may be returning home before the end of the semester.”

While we can never know what the future holds, this time seems especially tenuous.

Reading a devotional by Samuel Mills, I found encouragement in the questions he asks, “Are you planted by the waters? Are you trusting Jesus in every area of your life?”

Mills tells the story of a time when, his house developed a major water blockage, and he was using a water-hose in a desperate attempt to un-stop the main drain. To say that he, and everything around him, was completely soaked would be an understatement.

As might be expected his phone rang, and with the gushing water-hose in one hand he answered the phone with the other; without even saying "hello" a voice on the other end blurted out, "And he shall be like a tree planted by the water!"

“God definitely has a sense of humor!” he thought. His mother, who had no idea what he was doing at the time, was quoting what has become one of his favorite scriptures.

"Blessed are those who trust in the Lord,
whose trust is the Lord.
They shall be like a tree planted by water,
sending out its roots by the stream.
It shall not fear when 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 (NRSV)

These words convicted me. Was I trusting God to be with Sarah, and Daniel too, along with Mary and me?

Trusting in God always requires a difficult balance. I mean, if Mills had simply trusted God to clear that blocked drain, it might still be clogged. Trust and faith summon us to do our part as well.

The challenge for me was to recognize that nothing we do can prevent the potential of drought or storm. Yet, we are not alone. God is here and will remain with us no matter what happens. And, because God is with us, we will learn and grow through the experience. That is what bearing fruit from a tree planted by the water is all about.

How about you? Are you trusting in God for all your needs, in every area of your life? There is confidence in knowing that God will be with you in every situation and that God promises never to leave or abandon you. Don’t just take my word for it. Here’s a little Bible study for you. Look up the following verses: Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:9, Zephaniah 3:17, Matthew 28:20, Hebrews 13:5, Romans 8:38-39. Read them and the verses around them. Listen for God’s assurance and trust that God is with you.

If you will trust in the Lord, God will be there to help with decisions, temptations, illness, social situations, and whatever you may encounter. You will find renewed trust, hope, and a deeper walk with God.

In good times, tough times, or in a year of drought, you can be like the tree by the waters that does not fear or worry; whose leaves are always green and never fails to bear fruit.

That’s God’s promise!

Standing on the promises of Christ my King,

Through eternal ages let his praises ring;

Glory hallelujah, I will shout and sing,

Standing on the promises of God.


Living God, you are our source, our strength, and our salvation. Facing the struggles of our days, help us to do what we can while remembering that no matter where we are, or where we go, what we do, or what happens, you are there beside us. Amen.