Psalm 1:1-3 (the message)
How well God must like you–
you don’t hang out at Sin Saloon,
you don’t slink along Dead-End Road,
you don’t go to Smarth-Mouth College.
Instead you thrill to God’s Word,
you chew on Scripture day and night.
You’re a tree replanted in Eden,
bearing fresh fruit every month,
Never dropping a leaf,
always in blossom.
If you read other versions of this scripture, the Psalmist declares the man (or woman) blessed who does not walk in step with the wicked or stand in the way that sinners take or sit in the company of mockers, but whose delight is in the law of The Lord…that person is like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither–whatever they do prospers (NIV).
I don’t know about you, but I don’t read that and think of myself! I may think of others I know or have known who seem rather perfect or spiritually deep, or whose lives seem to prosper or produce good stuff for God, but can’t say I find a comfortable fit in the “whose leaf does not wither” category.
Cause people, my leaf has withered a time or two.
I’ve learned to love God’s Word. I’ve heard it called a mirror and boy is it ever! But I’ve come to appreciate the mirror of His Word as an invitation to a lavish celebration of life-change rather than a sorry-you-don’t-qualify letter sitting dustily on my nightstand.
That is why one word in The Message paraphrase captures my heart today.
So maybe you’ve spent some time in Sin Saloon. Perhaps you’ve traveled Dead-End Road. You may have even graduated summa cum laude from Smart-Mouth College.
Congratulations. Welcome to the rank and file of the human race. For those who never once stood in the way that sinners take (assuming you are not a sinner) or sat in the company of mockers (assuming you never judged or mocked those sinners) congratulations. You are among the most elite of the human race. Or the most deceived about yourself.
So here is my heart today. Most of us eventually hit the hard, rock bottom of our living when its been apart from His will and presence. Eventually, when the fruit our life produces is finally sour enough or rotten with worms, we take a look at where we are planted. Now, the devil wants us to live in shame and condemnation forever.
FOR-EV-ER. (Have you ever seen The Sandlot? Remember when that kids says it in slow motion all scary? I always think of that but never mind if you haven’t seen the movie. Or you think I’m silly. I am silly but man does it feel great to be silly today!)
My point is that finally realizing our life is not prospering in the ways that really count and are not producing healthy, good fruit is not a sad day! It’s a great day!
Why? Because our God is one of multiple chances, re-takes and replanting. You know what I believe? I believe the person whose eyes have been burned by the sights in Sin Saloon, the one whose nights have been sleepless and long on Dead-End Road, the one who out of pain and self-disgust majored in pride at Smart-Mouth college…I believe that person, once replanted, truly thrills at God’s Word. Chews on Scripture like the finest of delicacies and begins to bear fruit that changes the world around them.
Because they know the truth of it.
I’ve been replanted more than once and in more ways than one! I visited Sin-Saloon (even after having been raised in a Godly home). As I became distracted by my needs and wants I began to plot my own course. I uprooted my tree from Eden. I tried to put down roots on Dead-End Road. I opted for the School of Hard Knocks over Smart-Mouth College, but all in all it’s not good, you know?
It didn’t take long for my leaves to wither. For the fruit in my life to go bad. Pause and Smile…I knew better.
I need to take a second here…for the one who “knew better.” You can’t get past it all because you knew better. Like me, you were raised in a Godly home, your parents taught you right from wrong, you knew the touch of Jesus on your heart…and yet with full understanding you walked away. Believed the lie. And you’ve paid for it in so many ways…ways other people don’t even know or understand. And even though you believe in second chances for others, you won’t really, truly take yours because after all, you knew better. I understand. I knew better, too. Sometimes that makes it harder, the shame heavier and letting go longer.
But it’s time.
He’s saying it now…your heart hears Him…it’s time to be replanted. Only God can whisper the way…only God knows how and where He wants your roots to reach down for sustenance and nourishment. Your replanting may be new friends. A new job. A new church. A new way of thinking about yourself. A new way of thinking about Him. Could be a return to relationships that sharpened your love for Jesus. Could be reconciliation with a spouse or a brother or sister. Might be an uprooting of addiction to things or people for validation into the fertile, life-giving soil of Unconditional Love and Grace.
Jesus wants to see us thrive and grow and enjoy our life. Jesus wants
to unravel the knots from the past that still hold us back.
One last thought. Smile…this is the best one. When Jesus walked this earth, you know the kind of places He went to so He could offer a replanting? Sin Saloon, Dead-End Road and Smart-Mouth College. And for those who dared to look past the comfort and familiarity of their surroundings, for those willing to risk change and believing, life was never the same.
Sometimes it is in root-rot living that we develop a taste and hunger for Jesus-living.
If you’ve lived planted in Eden your whole life then keep growing and showing the way with a grateful, humble heart. But if, like me, you’ve seen the barren wasteland of apart-from-Him living but have yet to let Him move you, then maybe it’s time. It’s not as scary as you think. It’s not as painful as you imagine.
See, Jesus has been preparing the soil for you. Making room for you. Good stuff grows in our lives when we put down roots in the ways and places He has for us.
When we let Him unravel the knots of what was or what has always been so we can be replanted.