“He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when he heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”- Jeremiah 17:8
The most enduring memory I have of my college roommate Mark’s childhood home in Bridgeview, IL, is the massive weeping willow that draped over his front yard from a neighbor’s property. In China, where the weeping willow originated, the tree represents vitality, growth, and rebirth. Weeping willows are very adaptable to a variety of soil conditions, flourishing in alkaline as well as acidic soil. When a drought hits, the willow’s powerful root system aggressively seeks the nearest source of moisture. Without regular pruning, the branches quickly begin to compete with each other for space and airflow, paving the way for pests and disease.
In the worn and weary land of un(der)employment we transition through following our ministry downsizing or vocation loss, we are bombarded and perplexed by drought conditions that threaten to erode and uproot our faith: desire for a swift exit from the land between, unforgiveness, justification of our point of view. Even though we feel like our faith has run dry, our thirst for Jesus will conquer our fear as our faith roots aggressively seek Jesus’ living water. As Jesus said, “If anyone thirsts, let him come to me and drink. Whoever believes in me, as the Scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart will flow streams of living water (John 7:37-38).’ ”
Rather than simply survive, we have a God-ordained opportunity to thrive as effective witnesses of Jesus’ faithfulness and blessing as He prunes us to be fruitful:
” . . . the wound of divine pruning force us to pay attention to our relationship to God, because He’s all we have. And in the process, He strengthens our connection to the Vine, softens our hearts, and delights in our growth as our lives produce a great harvest of spiritual fruit.”- Anne Graham Lotz (Wounded by God’s People)