Come to the River

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
    whose trust is the Lord.
He is like a tree planted by water,
    that sends out its roots by the stream,
and does not fear when 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 17:7-8

The afternoon sun was hot and the park was empty.  The usual chatter of other hikers coming through the trees, and the happy barking of their dogs, out for their daily run, were eerily missing.  I shrugged it off, “Must be the heat.”  I have hiked this area with my dogs often, but on this day, with my teenagers in tow, I somehow got turned around and before I knew it we were walking an unfamiliar trail.  I felt unsettled.  How had this happened?  How did we get where we were?  We should have turned around and headed back, but our sense of adventure kept us pushing onward.

After about forty-five minutes of walking with the sun blaring down on us, we came to a cliff.  I could finally hear the sound of water that I had been looking for in the distance.  Following the flow of the river would lead us where we needed to go, but to get there we would first have to go down the steep incline in front of us.  The kids were already bracing themselves with ropes and starting downhill and the younger two of my three dogs were in full flight, bounding downward and nearing the bottom.  I leashed up the dog at my heals looking up at me for direction.  My old girl and I were not so sure about the trek we were about to take on less than youthful, unsteady legs.  Full of fear, I grabbed the ropes in one hand and my dog’s collar in the other and we slowly inched our way, step-by-careful-step down the steep slope.

Our journey through life does not always go as we expected.  As we walk through our days, we find that in some of them we feel strong and sure of our steps.  We know who we are and where we are going.  A gentle breeze is at our backs and a there is a song in our hearts as we meander along God’s path for us.  Other times look a lot more like my hike in the park.  We think that everything is carrying on as usual when we start to have a nagging sense of fear or anxiety building up inside of us that begins to turn into a deep sense that something is wrong.  We may not even know what it is, but we press on.  We keep walking through the scorching sun, up rocky cliffs, and through the dense forest on a path we never intended to be on.  Sometimes God leads us to these difficult paths, and sometimes we get there through our own stubborn wandering.  In the moment it can be difficult to tell which it is, especially for those of us who tend to bend towards being strong, independent women and not reliant children of God.

That day hiking with my kids, I was never really afraid that I wouldn’t find my way back home.  I trusted my sense of direction, and what I knew of the geography.  I knew that if I kept walking the direction we were going that eventually I would run into the river that could guide me back to the trail I wanted to be on. (Notice how many “I”s are in that sentence?  It might as well read, “When things get difficult, I trust ME!” Sigh…)

But Jeremiah 17:7 tells us, “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord.

I am a bit of a word nerd and love that this verse has the word “trust” in both its noun and verb form. Trust is both a thing and an action!  My trust that I hold onto must be in the Lord AND I must actively choose to trust Him in every moment of every day.  It is both by having and doing trust in God that the man in this verse is blessed.  “He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when 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)

As much as we as women pride ourselves in building our self-confidence (and that of our daughters) and work to convince ourselves that we are able to handle whatever life may throw our way, if truth be told, we don’t really trust ourselves at all.  Oh, we may for a time, but the farther and longer we wander from our God and from putting our trust in Him, the greater the fear and anxiety is going to be when the realization hits us that we haven’t got clue how to get ourselves out of the mess that we have gotten ourselves into!  We tend to brush off our insecurities and fear like they are some pesky insect disturbing our day and threatening to destroy our beloved self-confidence.  Sister, that first moment of uneasiness or that first inclination of fear is an invitation to stop pushing forward and to fall to our knees to seek the Lord, to draw near to Him and His wisdom in full assurance of our faith.

I only saw one other person in the park that day, and what I didn’t know at the time was there was a good reason why that had nothing to do with the weather.  There was a non-native, dangerous snake spotted in the park in the very area that my children, my dogs, and I had been hiking.  It was probably a pet that someone decided to set free to cause havoc in my little piece of paradise.  Thankfully, we never ran into the snake… but we could have.  The danger was lurking around us even if we weren’t aware of it.  And thankfully there is One who was aware.  He was with me, guiding and protecting me, even if I didn’t know at the time how much I needed Him.

He is the Alpha and Omega ~
“I am the Alpha and the Omega,” says the Lord God, “who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Revelation 1:8)

He is the beginning and the end ~
“I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” (Rev. 22:13)

He knows the numbers of hairs on your head ~
Why, even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not… (Luke 12:7)

He knows every star in the sky ~
He determines the number of the stars;
He gives to all of them their names. ~ Psalm 147:4

And He knows the plans He has for us, every single one of us ~
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.  Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you.  You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart.
(Jer. 29:11-13)

He is Healer and Provider.  He is the Great Protector, and He knows every danger lurking around us.  He is our Lord and our God!

Wanderer, let’s turn to Him.  Or return to Him!  Let us not simply press on as we walk the paths of our lives, but instead, stop and press in to know God, to know His wisdom, His Word, His love and the blessing of knowing and trusting His Son!

Come, let us return to the LORD; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up.  After two days he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we may live before him.  Let us know; let us press on to know the LORD; his going out is sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth. ~ Hosea 6:1-3

 

Photo: Dean C. Wagner, Sr. copyright 2010

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