“Like a tree, planted…”

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A word of wisdom from A.A. Milne: “If ever there is a tomorrow when we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”

The truth is that I am capable of much much more when there is someone who thinks the world of me! I rise to the occasion, I gather optimistic self-belief, I become” a Go-to guy” (as someone expressed it to me!) in times of trouble. Their trust in me releases my confidence in myself.

Jeremiah wrote about this – about self-confidence that is rooted in what Another thinks of you:

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  (Jeremiah 17:7-8)

Look at the text to notice the characteristics of the one who has “roots by the stream.”  He “does not fear”. He “has no worries”. He “never fails to bear fruit.” Braver, stronger, smarter! Why? Because he “trusts in the Lord, [and has] confidence is in him.” It’s the very opposite of rugged self-confidence or gritted-teeth determination. It’s faith in a God who is alive, and present and connected, like the flowing resource of a healthy root system.

Jesus told a similar parable (in John 15) which pictured his followers as the branches of a tree. If you stay connected, he said, then you will bear fruit. If you don’t, you won’t.

And what is it to stay connected? It is to have “roots by the stream” (as Jeremiah put it here). The unfailing resources of God’s love and friendship really changes who I am, and how I act. It is a deep and wonderful life-changing truth, that God thinks the world of me, that God believes in me.

And He is always with me. Always.

I was stirred by the honesty of Dawn French’s Dear Fatty,  to consider just how faith can drive you forward, without fear and anxiety, to bear “fruit” in your life.

“My theory was that if I behaved like a confident, cheerful person, eventually I would buy it myself, and become that. I always had traces of strength somewhere inside me, it wasn’t fake, it was just a way of summoning my courage to the fore and not letting any creeping self-doubt hinder my adventures. This method worked then, and it works now. I tell myself that I am the sort of person who can open a one-woman play in the West End, so I do. I am the sort of person who has several companies, so I do. I am the sort of person WHO WRITES A BOOK! So I do. It’s the process of having faith in the self you don’t quite know you are yet, if you see what I mean. Believing that you will find the strength, the means somehow, and trusting in that, although your legs are like jelly. You can still walk on them and you will find the bones as you walk. Yes, that’s it. The further I walk, the stronger I become. So unlike the real lived life, where the further you walk, the more your hips hurt.” 

I like that – “the process of having faith in the self you don’t quite know you are yet.”  In something of the same sense, John Wesley was encouraged to “preach faith until you have faith.”

“Blessed are those who nerved by God, set out on pilgrimage” (Psalm 84 Moffatt) “not letting any creeping self-doubt hinder my adventures”! Ultimately, you will act like the sort of person you conceive yourself to be. So who are you? The deepest truth about you is not this collection of fears and failures, ups and downs and narcissistic self-obsession mixed with intense self-loathing. Rather, as Brennan Manning put it:

“My deepest awareness of myself is that I am deeply loved by Jesus Christ and I have done nothing to earn it or deserve it.”

And this is where we start living.

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”  

And the Lord says: “If ever there is a tomorrow when it seems we’re not together… there is something you must always remember. You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart… I’ll always be with you.”  

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