Resilience is so much more than our ability to bounce back from the stresses and strains that stretch us. We’re not made of elastic!
In Psalm 1: 1-3, we read, “Oh, the joys of those who do not follow the advice of the wicked, or stand around with sinners, or join in with mockers. But they delight in the law of the LORD, meditating on it day and night. They are like trees planted along the riverbank, bearing fruit each season. Their leaves never wither, and they prosper in all they do.”
What would change in our friendships, parenting, work habits, ministry focus and approach . . . if we really truly believed that we could be like that tree?
To be like that tree, we MUST know the soil in which our roots grow. We. Must. Know. God.
We were made to know God. Genesis 1 – 3 spells this out.
In John 17, Jesus says to God His Father: “And this is the way to eternal life – to know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, the one you sent to earth.” To know God means we know Jesus Christ.
We read in Colossians 2:6-7 (NLT): “And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will over flow with thankfulness.”
For trees to grow strong, they need to be planted in the right place.
The soil in which our roots grow deep is the One who came down in the cool of the day to walk in the Garden with Adam and Eve. It’s the man who said: “Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit.” The man who hung like so much dead fruit on a rough man-made tree of sorts. The one whose rising from the dead means that evil, judgment and oppression are not the final words or blight of our days.
In the Gospel of John, Jesus makes 7 I AM statements ((All verses from the New Living Translation).
1. And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. Whoever comes to me will never be hungry
again. Whoever believes in me will never be thirsty.” (John 6:35).
2. Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” (John 8:12).
3. “Yes, I am the gate. Those who come in through me will be saved.” (John 10:9).
4. “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for the sheep” (John 10:11).
5. Jesus told her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Anyone who believes in me will live, even after dying.” (John 11:25).
6. Jesus told him, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one can come to the Father except
through me.” (John 14:6).
7. “I am the true grapevine, and my Father is the gardener.” (John 15:1).
Talk about soil that supports and sustains life!
How do we sink our roots deep into that soil?
One way we can do this is simple: Let’s read, pray and reflect on each of Jesus’ I AM statements. They are for us. Today.
1. READ each I AM statement 3 times.
2. REACH each statement a 4th time, but make it personal e.g. John 10:11: “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd sacrifices his life for (insert your name here).”
3. REFLECT on how Jesus is (or isn’t) those I AM statements e.g. ” In my life, I know Jesus to be a good shepherd because _____________________________________.”
4. PRAY those I AM statements. Thank Jesus for being your bread, water, good shepherd, light, etc. And ask Him to be more of those things to you.
As you read and reflect and pray, let me encourage you.
“Knowing God is a matter of grace. It is a relationship in which the initiative throughout is with God . . . God makes friends with us, bringing us to know Him by making His love known to us. . . . . God knows you. Your name is graven on the palms of His hands. You are never out of His mind. God knows you as a friend . . . there is no moment when His eye is off you or His attention distracted from you, and no moment, therefore, when His care falters.”
J.I. Packer from Knowing God, Chapter 3.
Know the soil in which you’re planted. Know God.
That’s the first step that takes us from being stretched out to being rooted and grounded.