May your roots grow deeply next to the river of living water.
Today is the high school graduation of my friend’s son. I have been around him for years now at the gym and various athletic events. He is a hard worker but is also a very quiet person. (I can relate to that. My legal blog was called “The Laconic Law Blog.”) You can tell that he has a good spirit. I was thinking this morning about how to pray for this young man on his graduation day. I was led to the following reflection.
It is somewhat ironic that this reflection would have been completely lost on me at 18 years of age. I was simply not in a place to hear what the Holy Spirit is saying here. I pray that those who read this post will hear what the Holy Spirit is trying to say to you today. If today you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.1
I started by opening the Bible to Psalm 1. It immediately struck me as relevant advice to a young man about to enter a new phase of adult life.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.
He is like a tree planted by streams of water,
that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither.
In all that he does, he prospers.2
We are known by the company that we keep. This passage reminds us immediately that we should not make the wicked our intimate friends. We should not seek advice or counsel from wicked people. We should also avoid spending much time with scoffers, those who mock religion and our cherished beliefs. “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company ruins good morals.’”3
Instead, our delight should be to keep the Word of God in our heart day and night. This is the life of Christian prayer! As one goes off into the world and leaves the shelter of the family home, one must make a commitment to daily prayer and meditation on the Word of God.
The prophet Jeremiah reinforces this message, but also ties it to trust in the Lord:
“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.”4
This trust, this faith, is our spiritual root system. A tree without roots will be blown over in the slightest storm! The tree with deep roots, however, is not easily shaken. This is the man of faith.
Jeremiah also tells us that the one who trusts in the Lord will be like a tree planted by streams of water. This is where the prayerful Christian wants to be – next to the living water. Jesus is the one who gives this living water.
I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water without price from the fountain of the water of life.5
What is this living water? It is the Holy Spirit, given to those who believe in Jesus. Every one who thirsts, come to the waters!6
On the last day of the feast, the great day, Jesus stood up and proclaimed, “If any one thirst, let him come to me and drink. He who believes in me, as the scripture has said, ‘Out of his heart shall flow rivers of living water.’” Now this he said about the Spirit, which those who believed in him were to receive; for as yet the Spirit had not been given, because Jesus was not yet glorified.7
There will be heat in life. There will be drought. There will be storms. We are sustained through all of it by the life of prayer, which builds our faith and trust in the Lord.
My prayer for you today young graduate is that you come to the living waters of Jesus Christ by a consistent life of prayer and meditation. Do not let the mockers or the scoffers distract you. Encourage your spiritual roots to grow deeply over the coming years. May you become a large tree in the kingdom of our Lord, with deep roots of faith and trust, nourished by the living water of the Holy Spirit, in the Name of Jesus!
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