“But 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."
-The Prophet Jeremiah (17:7-8)
So all of us who have had that veil removed can see and reflect the glory of the Lord.
-The Apostle Paul (2 Corinthians 3:18)
I was recently walking along a wooded path by a stream a few hours south of Delaware. It was late afternoon and the sun was bright and hot, but the shade was pleasant and refreshing. As our family sat on a bench and took in the peaceful moment, a movement in the tree caught my eye. At first I thought it was a bird or the wind, but I quickly realized that every single leaf on the tree had the same bright, dazzling movement, even though no wind was in sight. The sun had hit the moving water and bounced onto the underside of the leaves, creating a shimmering ripple that made the leaves explode with green shades and come to life (this is the effect I mean). The leaves were simply hanging there, but the sun and water animated them with a compelling beauty beyond anything they would ever have on their own. As I sat back in delight, it made me think of Jesus (shocker!).
Two things are necessary in order for that shimmering reflection to be so beautiful and breathtaking. The tree had to be healthy enough to have green leaves. If the roots aren’t deep and life isn’t flowing through the tree, then the sunlight won’t have bright leaves to illuminate. And secondly, the tree has to be rooted close enough to the water to be able to reflect the sun’s light when it reflects.
Isn’t this an image of God's creative way of forming us in Jesus? When we are experiencing the reality of being rooted in God’s love, we find great life there. We are able to withstand the daily struggles of life and relationships, and the larger struggles of pain and loss and fear and disappointment. But that rooted life is not just a benefit to us. Because of our proximity to Jesus, and because the living water has worked its way into our roots, we also are able to reflect something beautiful and noticeable to those around us. This is not about proving ourselves or living with a prideful disposition. And it’s not merely effort or impressiveness.
It is about willingly doing good works that flow from Jesus, so that others can see that way of life and “glorify your father in heaven” (Matt 5:16). Our lives become breathtaking glimpses of the living water because of our proximity to Jesus and living within the spacious confines of grace.
A life rooted in Jesus will reflect his beauty onto a world that is in desperate need of the shimmer of God.
Many things catch our eye in today’s celebrity and consumption-obsessed culture. But a life that humbly loves God and lives it out through love of neighbor will always last beyond the eye-catching flashes of the moment.
This is not profound. It’s nature. And it's the nature of God.
When we find life and delight in Jesus, others will notice the beauty and be drawn to it. Of course, some will not, because the Jesus way of life will challenge the allegiances they’ve adopted. But that’s ok. Do not be afraid to actively reflect God’s beauty in the world.
The extended hand of Jesus to the outsider will reveal beauty in our world today.
The ability to trust Jesus and reject worry will appear attractive in a stressed out world.
The choice to speak truth in love will always be more compelling than name calling.
A humble life of prayer will have effects that catch peoples’ eyes.
A heart bearing the patience of Jesus will delight others we meet.
Maybe it’s not a broken record, saying this over and over again. Instead, maybe it’s the key to spiritual health.
Slow down. Get rooted in Jesus every single day. Discover the joy of being planted beside living water…. and don’t miss the opportunities to point people to the light when they see it reflecting off of you.
Jesus, make me an instrument of your peace. May I reflect your Spirit today.