Thursday, March 24, 2011

The Lush Forest of Trust

Thus says the Lord:
“Cursed is the man who trusts in man
and makes flesh his strength,
whose heart turns away from the Lord.
He is like a shrub in the desert,
and shall not see any good come.
He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness,
in an uninhabited salt land.

“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 17:5-8 ESV)

A friend sent me this text today, and I’ve continued to meditate on it. It makes me think of the consequences of living in the true and false selves. The diagnosis of the text is so clear - I am used to scratching a living in the "uninhabited salt land" where all there is is lonely thirst. After a while, I assume it is the “normal Christian life” and seek to numb myself. I do not experience gratitude or the ability to see the good that comes my way. All I know is the tyranny of unquenchable thirst. These are all my false ways of living (false selves): I am what I do, I am what others perceive of me, and I am what I have (categories from Peter Scazzero, Emotionally Healthy Spirituality).

In contrast, the trusting man reminds me of John 15, abiding in Jesus our vine. But how to move toward trust? How do we move from the salt land to the lush forest of trust in God? It must take a lifetime of small decisions, otherwise it would be much easier! The salt land is miserable but predictable, the forest mysterious, chaotic (sounds like slavery in Egypt vs. the promised land).

It all seems to hinge on whether or not I trust that God is good, that the unpredictability of God is infinitely preferable to the predictability of what I can manage for myself.

Lord have mercy on my corrupt heart and twisted mind, so that I can sink my roots into your love and faithfulness in ruthless trust.

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