There’s been a long drought in California the past few years that it seems all people can talk about. We worry about the crops, wildfires, and communities whose wells have run dry. Even on the drive to Hume Lake through Kings Canyon National Park, dead pine trees pepper the landscape, their red needles giving the mountains the false look of New England in the fall. Imagine my surprise when I noticed that in spite of several dry winters, the blackberries are growing on the bushes outside my house. And not just growing, they’re shaping up to be a lovely, bountiful crop of berries. [I’ve already picked my first batch for blackberry lemon scones].
So why are the blackberry bushes doing so well in the drought? They’re in a lovely spot that gets light for only a few hours of the day, so maybe they’re shaded in most of the blistering heat. There are blackberry bushes around the corner that spend most of the day in the sun and they’re heavy-laden with fruit, too. So it can’t be that. Maybe it’s that they’re protected? They’re picked through by turkeys, deer, birds, and other critters [including my in-laws 🙂 ], so that can’t explain the harvest. It seems as though they’re just bent on being full of life, even when circumstances are against them. They’re stubborn blackberries.
Isn’t that true of people, too? There are people who go through season after season of hardship and loss and seem to be people full of life and joy. People that comfort others when they’re the one suffering with disease. People that nourish others with their fruit, just like the blackberry bush on the hillside in the heat. People who stubbornly hold on to hope in darkness. I hope I would be just like them in their circumstances, but I don’t really want to find out if I would be like them, since I don’t really want to go through said circumstances.
As I read Jeremiah today, I read one of my favorite verses. It turns out such people are not stubborn, they’re rooted.
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord
and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.
They are like trees planted along a riverbank,
with roots that reach deep into the water.
Such trees are not bothered by the heat
or worried by long months of drought.
Their leaves stay green,
and they never stop producing fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7,8
Trees that are planted near flowing water will always have what they need. Heat means nothing to them. Drought? They’ve got this! When things are hard, they’re verdant and life-giving. People that have put their hope in the Lord are likewise full of vitality and fruit. Their hope isn’t in being healthy. Their happiness is not dependent on having “enough.” So when/if those things are taken away, they still have what they need most. They have the one thing they can never lose: Jesus.
Man, that’s the kind of person I want to be. I long to live a life that brings life to others. I long to bring hope to people when they’re hurting and tired. I long to be the kind of person who isn’t withered by drought nor heat. It starts with my roots, which, thankfully, can be cultivated.
Am I planting my roots deep into Living Water through reading and hearing God’s word? Am I connected to the True Vine in prayer and abiding in him? As I practice these things, surely my roots will grow, slowly, but faithfully.
May I have the joy of seeing Jesus transform the Living Water that sustains me into fruit that brings life and nourishment to others.