We had a hard rain last night. As we listened to it pounding outside our open window, we wondered about the seeds we had planted in the garden a week ago. Would the force of the water be too much for those little seeds, or would they already be secure in their place?
A few days will tell the answer, but in a few weeks we’ll likely find that we have another problem to consider. We won’t be worrying about rain washing away our seeds, but rather keeping an eye out for the soil getting too dry. Fredericton in July can bring some serious heat, and if past years are any indication, we won’t be well rewarded if we get lazy about watering the gardens. Water is life.
My little niece, when she was about three or four, got into a habit one summer of thanking anyone who gave her a glass of water with the words, “Thank you, giver of life.” She had learned the truth that water is to a great extent the source of physical life. Without water, we don’t last very long. Nothing does.
In Psalm 1, we are given a picture of a flourishing tree growing beside a running stream of water. The water feeds the growth of the tree and allows it to produce its fruit when the time comes. Without such a rich source of water nourishing it, the tree would fail to produce its fruit. With it, we get to see—and taste!—the glories of the fruit tree.
The writer of the Psalm says that people “whose delight is in the law of the Lord” are like that tree. We are well-supplied with nourishment and are able to be fruitful.
The Bible elsewhere talks about the fruit that God produces in the lives of his people (Galatians 5:22-23). Here we see an encouragement to be people of the Word, whose fruitful lives will be watered by that Word. Listening to that Word, we hear that God loves us in Jesus, we learn the shape of kingdom justice, and we are invited into a vision of the renewed creation towards which we are living. In the Word we learn the way of the cross, which is the way of Jesus, the now Risen One who shares his life like water to the roots of a tree.
If our lives are planted in dry dirt, we won’t see much fruit. But if we situate ourselves in the rich soil of the Word of God, where God in this Psalm invites us to live, surprising growth can come from these lives of ours, even if sometimes we imagine ourselves to be as frail as those little dry seeds we drop in the dirt each spring.