Trust and Confidence. Two words that are important ones to live out, especially in our day and time. They certainly sound desirable but may not sound to be the most attainable. Trust me, I know. I’m a firm believer that God will walk us through seasons where he wants us to learn something. Not just learn it but also live it. And live it in such a way that we won’t go back. Live it with so much certainty that you won’t fear the “arrows that flies by day” nor the “terrors of the night.” Sounds great, right? To live a life of not fearing? If you’re like me, then you’re thinking “sign me up”, especially with the year we’ve had. It seems like one thing after the next. From things going on all around us to the trials of our personal lives, thoughts of fear and worry can surround us.
I have been reading in Jeremiah the past two weeks. I can say wholeheartedly that especially this year, I have developed a love like never before for reading God’s Word. I look forward to it more than I ever have before. My quiet time in the morning, no matter how short or long I am able to make it, feels like my safe place. But I can also honestly say that some portions aren’t the easiest to read. It’s not easy reading about anger, wrath, sin, destruction, and all the “messiness”, if you will. Sometimes I find myself saying “wait, I thought God’s Word was supposed to comfort me, encourage me, be warm and inviting.” This is a post for another day, but overall I’ve learned that although it isn’t the easiest to read at times, it’s the reality of our fallen world. And the overwhelming reality that we need our Savior in the messiness, and that’s where so much beauty comes in. That’s what I want to share today! As I mentioned, I’ve been reading in Jeremiah. And again I have to be honest, it hasn’t been my favorite book to read. It hasn’t left me feeling that way I’d like to feel after reading God’s Word.
As I’ve been going through the chapters of this book, I feel like I’ve been waiting for the moment of “just what I needed to read today, Lord.” There have been some verses that have been quite eyeopening, especially with our world today, and some that have left me examining areas of my own life. But last week, I read Jeremiah 17. Just as I was starting to seriously think about skipping to later on in Jeremiah, this chapter came, just when I needed it. It was one of those hidden treasures, that whisper from the Lord, that encouragement feeling like a lesson of “don’t stop, keep going!” Particularly Jeremiah 17:7-8:
Ok but another tidbit of honesty. When I first read this verse, I didn’t feel what I explained a few seconds ago. The words “trust” and “confidence” caught my attention, and then I continued on to read about the “tree planted by the water.” How it “doesn’t fear the heat” and its “leaves are always green.” How it “never worries” and “always bears fruit”. I read these words and my first thought was “wow, must be nice.” I pictured this beautifully flourishing tree. I pictured the ripest, juiciest fruit that catches the attention of others. I pictured carefree, blowing in the breeze, overcoming, not being phased by a single trial or circumstance. I pictured “perfection.” I pictured a life shining so bright that it catches the attention of and meets the approval of others. I pictured a life without trials…again whats seems to be a “perfect life.” Sounds familiar? And to top it off, I said all of this while sitting in my pajamas with the “messiness” of the day in front of me, loose ends I had not been able to tie throughout the week. Yikes.
So I continued to read into the chapter and reached verse ten which says: “I the Lord examine the heart and examine the mind” again wow. I took a few steps back to read and re-read verses seven and eight. I then started to think a little deeper and it was like the light turned on, almost like the Lord said “Really Rachel? What have I been teaching you these past few months?” I was completely missing the point. It wasn’t about the way life looks when I’m faced with not-so-fun tasks. It wasn’t about feeling overwhelmed. Yes, these things can get messy and may not be appealing to the eye, but that’s not what it’s about. Then I started to think on all the little things that bring me so much joy each day. The beautiful pieces of my life that are truly gifts. The precious, little moments with Madeline throughout my day. The fact that I have my Heavenly Father’s hand to hold onto no matter what. The fact that I have His promises to cling to. The fact that He will never leave me nor forsake me. The peace that results from all of this and I thought to myself wow! That’s beautiful.
So as I went back to read about this flourishing green tree that knows how to avoid fear, never worries even in when faced with drought and always bears fruit, I came to the conclusion:
It wasn’t about my circumstances. It was about trusting and having confidence, God Confidence. Confidence that he is supreme over EVERY circumstance, struggle, storm, season of my life, and so much beauty flows from that.
So I started to think a little more about this tree. It again, seemed to have it all together. I certainly don’t. I want to, but how? I desire these things, but how do I attain them? One of my favorite things to do is look at the cross-references for my favorite verses. This is so interesting and can be a valuable way to look at a verse in closer detail. It has so many times helped me to understand what I’m reading in a whole new light. So let’s break this down a little more.
Trust & Confidence:
Trust and confidence. Those are the two words that stand out to me in verse 7. When I hear these words, I can’t help but think, “step out of the way, fear!” Fear has the ability to shake us up like no other. It can come at us like a grenade and immediately throw everything into utter confusion. Been there? Yeah, me too. One very telling description of fear is in Isaiah chapter seven. I love this story and encourage y’all to check it out if you’re unfamiliar with it, but King Ahaz and his people were faced with a huge army (two actually) which, to their own understanding, the odds didn’t look too great. It actually says “they could not overpower it”. Fear fell over them and it says in verse two, “so the hearts of King Ahaz and his people were shaken, as the trees of the forest are shaken by the wind.” I can picture those tall pine trees in the woods next to our house during a strong wind and I can look back on times when my heart felt just the same way. Utterly shaken!!
But if I have learned anything, trusting is one of the only things I’ve experienced to combat fear. Trusting that no matter what comes my way, how I’m feeling or what state I’m in, I can run to the One that is so much bigger than it all. But then the next question comes in, how do we know we can trust? That’s when the next takeaway word comes in: confidence! We can trust because we have confidence, God confidence!!! Confidence in God. Confidence in his Word. Confidence in his promises. Philippians 4:6 tells us not to worry, not to be anxious about anything. All throughout God’s Word, we can read about the power and beauty of trusting in Him, which gives so much confidence. Psalm 34:8 (blessed are those who take refuge in him), Proverbs 3:5, Isaiah 26:3 (perfect peace!), Psalm 9:10, Psalm 56: 3, Isaiah 12:2, Psalm 40:4 and more.
The Root System
But we need to dig a little deeper. To the root (see what I did there?!) of the verse. Jeremiah 17:8 goes on to talk about this beautiful tree. It’s flourishing, it’s fruitful, its fearless, it does not worry…it’s beautifully rooted. Again, it seems almost as if it has reached a level of “perfection”. Remember when I first read this verse, I started to compare it to messiness (inevitably missing the point). I started to think on circumstances in my own life. I started to compare my life to others’ lives. I started to think about certain things and how I’d “like” for them to look. See the trap I was falling into? Remember that word trap. With Jeremiah 17:8 cross-referencing to Psalm 1, I flipped there earlier today and read the footnotes in my study Bible. It talks about this same idea of a tree by the stream, in the same manner. In the notes, it states that “trees do not plant themselves.” I thought hmm ok? Then this afternoon, I met with my dear friend Mrs. Toni. We were talking about Jeremiah 17, and she shared Isaiah 61 with me. Beginning with verse 1, Jesus is sharing being the ultimate redeemer, fulfilling his promises, releasing us from affliction, brokenheartedness,…setting us free from a trap! His being our ultimate rescuer. Isaiah 61 goes on to describe “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord.” Then it struck me with the note I read earlier! A tree planted by the Lord. A tree cannot plant itself.
Ok If I haven’t lost y’all yet, try to picture this analogy with me. Let’s say you go to Home Depot, Lowes, a greenhouse, etc. You buy this potted tree. Kept in its pot (a trap), it won’t grow or flourish into it’s full potential. So you plant that tree. In the process of moving this tree to where you will plant it, think of all the dirt that crumbles in the process (think about the messiness). But after planting, you give this tree the soil, nourishment and care for it in the way you’re suppose to, because you desire for it to reach its full potential. It’s cared for. It grows and beautifully flourishes. I think the same about us and these verses. I fully believe (and have experienced) that God allows us to go through storms, seasons, circumstances where we learn to grow so dependent on Him. At the time, all we can think about is how we wish things could look or how we wish we could change them. I know I’ve been there with the “if onlys”, wishing I could essentially write my own script. But that pot is “my script” in which I need to be set free from. I can’t plant myself. It’s through these seasons where God has to set me free from my pot. At times it may not be fun, but as I’m walking and learning (as I’m being planted by Him where He wants me), I start to see the beauty. This beauty is found by a life of trusting. I trust because I have confidence that my God is bigger than any storm, season or circumstance. I have confidence that I can hold my Heavenly Father’s hand as he walks me through it. He has planted me to show me new and amazing things. He has planted me in a place where I can watch Him do exceeding abundantly above all I could ever ask or think (not my script, but His). I’m developing my root system in His word and in my walk with Him. The nourishment I need. Now, that is a beautiful thing!
So back to this tree…no, I may not be there just yet. I can’t say that I never worry or that I never fear. But I know I’ve found my sure foundation (my root system). It’s what I desire. And yes, it is so very attainable.
I hope this post has been able to encourage you. I know I went all over the place with this one and got a little deep today with all this discussion on roots (see what I did there again :)). But it greatly encouraged me, so I hope it has been able to encourage you as well. If you’re in a process of being re-planted…walking through a storm, a season, whatever your circumstances may look like, don’t look at your life from the “messiness” (remember God makes “everything beautiful in his time” (Ecclesiastes 3:11)). Instead look on the beauty, how far you’ve come, all the little things that make you smile along the way. And most of all, look at the beauty of living out a life where you can remain rooted to God, your stronghold in which you will not be shaken. Look at the beauty of a trust & God confidence-filled life.
“As the deer pants for following streams, so my soul pants for you, O God.”
Thanks for taking the time to read. Love y’all!