1 The truly happy person
doesn’t follow wicked advice,
doesn’t stand on the road of sinners,
and doesn’t sit with the disrespectful.
2 Instead of doing those things,
these persons love the Lord’s Instruction,
and they recite God’s Instruction day and night!
3 They are like a tree replanted by streams of water,
which bears fruit at just the right time
and whose leaves don’t fade.
Whatever they do succeeds.
4 That’s not true for the wicked!
They are like dust that the wind blows away.
5 And that’s why the wicked will have no standing in the court of justice—
neither will sinners
in the assembly of the righteous.
6 The Lord is intimately acquainted
with the way of the righteous,
but the way of the wicked is destroyed.
One of our members recently developed some workshops exploring the spiritual dimensions of art. In a recent workshop, he led a group of clergy to create an image of the “Tree of Life” that is referenced at the beginning of the Bible in Genesis 2 and again at the end in Revelation 22. (The picture above is my attempt to paint an image of the tree.)
To focus in on this image makes sense, because throughout the scriptures, trees are important signs of strength, steadfastness, righteousness (Isaiah 61:3), and blessedness.
Trees speak to the trustworthiness and provision of our Creator. They care for us by giving us not only food but also fuel and shelter – not to mention all they do for the maintenance of the air we breathe. And those are just some of the practical things they offer us.
Their beauty and strength also speaks to a deep place inside our hearts. Seldom have I felt closer to God than gazing at a Pennsylvania mountainside in the fall, standing in the quiet of a hemlock forest, looking up from the base of a giant sequoia, or playing under my neighbor’s massive white oak as a kid. Maybe that oak was the thing in my mind as I created the image above – I loved it and to this day, still think about it as a symbol of my childhood.
In any case, guess what I’m saying is that believers could do worse than to be compared to trees.
And maybe that’s why Psalm 1 has always felt particularly poignant for me. The righteous are like trees planted by streams of water: bearing fruit to bless others even as God has blessed them.
This is our calling. Just as God gave us trees to bless us in so many ways, we are planted and rooted in faith in order that we might become a blessing to someone else.
As Christians, we could do a lot worse!
by Joe Monahan
For Pondering & Prayer
Do you have a memory of particular trees, orchards, or forests that have been meaningful for you? When you think about those places, what emotions arise in you? How are your forest experiences inspiring you to be a blessing for someone else?
Prayer: God, we thank you for the gifts of trees and forests. We are grateful that you have given us these sources of provision, protection, and joy. Let your scriptures remind us that we are likewise called to bless others with these gifts, which you have poured into our lives. Amen.