Falling leaves

by Marilyn Mathis

Webster’s Dictionary defines fall as “the season when leaves fall from the trees.” By this definition, fall began at my house in early July this year due to the excessive heat and the absence of rain. 

As I write this column, I am sitting at my desk looking out at the yard, creek and field in front of our house. The yard and field are brown, the creek is dry and brown and dead leaves have fallen from the trees. Unless God intervenes by sending rain, I will not get to see the changing of the leaves from green to yellow, orange, red and then brown. For this anticipated beauty to occur, the trees need water. Otherwise they just wither and die.

Psalm 1:1-3 compares a godly person to a tree “whose leaf does not wither.”  

“Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of the scornful! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. And he will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever he does, he prospers.”

These verses are describing a blessed or happy person. They begin by emphasizing the negative. The happy person is known by the things he does not do, the places he does not go, by the company he does not keep. If you want to be miserable, just hang out with the wrong crowd. WATCH YOUR RELATIONSHIPS! The godly person avoids certain places and people. He is in the world, but the world IS NOT in him.

On the positive side, the psalmist notes several things that mark the life of the blessed/happy person.

He delights and meditates on God’s Word. The Bible is a pleasure and priority for his life. His life is God-centered. Do you take time to read the scriptures? Do you enjoy THE BOOK?

He is like “a tree.” A tree is tall and easy to see — visible to all. You may be the only Bible some people will read. What do they see?

He is “firmly planted” with deep roots that enable him to bend with the winds of life. The branches of growing trees not only reach higher, but their roots grow deeper. It is impossible for a strong tree to have high branches without deep roots. The tree would become top-heavy and topple over during a strong wind. How deep are your roots?

He is a well-watered tree. He is tapped into the source of living water, Jesus Christ and His Word. How dry are you? Do you need a refreshing rain from above?

He brings “forth fruit.” He is a blessing to others — a tasty, delicious plum, not a dried-up prune. What is coming from your life that is beautiful to another? Food for them? Encouragement? Are you a place of shade and refreshment? 

His “leaf does not wither.” Outside my window are many tall pine trees. Even in the drought, they have retained their fresh, green pine needles. They are evergreens. Evergreens, like all trees, need WATER to survive and flourish. These pines have deep roots and are drawing from an unseen source of water. Christians are to be evergreens. Are you thriving even in a drought? Are you drawing upon an inner source of nourishment provided by the water of the WORD?

He is “prosperous” in whatever he does. What a promise! Do you want to be blessed and successful? Then practice the life of a well-watered tree! 

Psalm 1:4-6 gives a stark contrast to the happy, blessed person. This person sits and mocks the ways of God. He stands in the company of sinners. He walks in the advice of the godless. The psalmist calls this person the “wicked or ungodly” — a person who leaves God completely out of his life. He is not like a “well-watered tree,” but is like “chaff which the wind drives away.” Chaff according to Webster is “the seed coverings and other debris separated from the seed in threshing grain; something comparatively worthless.”

How would your describe your life? HOW WOULD GOD DESCRIBE YOUR LIFE? A well-watered tree, fruitful and prosperous? Or chaff?  

“Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD and whose trust is the LORD. For he will be like a tree planted by the water, that extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit.” — Jeremiah 17:7-8