“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. – Jeremiah 17:7-8
Has God ever answered a question you didn’t realize you were asking? I was wondering idly what season I’m in now, and to my surprise, God answered me! Now, I have been in a very wintery season for the past few years, but now that I sit reflecting and searching my inner life, I realize I’m not really in that season anymore. Getting engaged, getting married, and moving to a new area haven’t exactly been the easiest experiences of the past year. In fact, it’s been an incredibly stressful year. But they are happy things. For the first time in a long time, I’m satisfied with who I am and where I am in life. I no longer feel pain I can’t describe or identify. I no longer feel dry and far from God. Instead, I love being married to my wonderful hubby. I love living in Carpinteria where it is quiet and peaceful. I love working from home. I especially love having only one job. I love being able to sleep as long as I want and stay in bed all day if I want. I no longer feel like my world is coming apart. Before I share what God said to me, there are three things you need to know.
#1: When my roommate and I decided to move to Sierra Madre several years ago, we ended up living on a beautiful little street called Esperanza. When we prayed over our new home, my roommate remarked that it was ironic that we moved onto a street that means “hope” or “trust” since we were both struggling with a very painful season of life at the time. About the same time, Jeremiah 17:5-7 came up in discussion with my spiritual director, and she encouraged me to mediate on the verses for a time, which led me to create this little picture to encourage myself that though I felt like everything on the left, I could hope and trust in God to bring me one day to everything promised on the right.
#2: Sometime later, Jeremiah 17:5-8 came up again, and I wrote this poem.
#3: I remember sitting in my living room about a year ago with a group of girls as my roommate led us in an exercise of Visio Divina (here’s a great resource). She asked us to imagine ourselves as a tree and to ask God to enter the image and reveal a truth to us. At that time, I tried to imagine myself as a tree, but I could only see the roots. It was dark and isolated, but I saw Jesus sitting on the roots and heard him telling me that the roots have to grow first before the tree can begin to grow above ground. There was a sense of promise that although things seemed dark and lonely in the moment, growth was still happening, and I would one day begin to grow in the light.
Now in the moment I was wondering idly what season I had entered, I was not thinking about this image of the tree’s roots from that night with my friends, or the poem I wrote, or the picture I made. I was not thinking about Jeremiah 17:5-8. To be perfectly honest, I had not–until the writing of this post–even noticed that there was a theme of growing trees in the story of my spiritual journey. But suddenly there popped into my head this image of a tree. Now the tree wasn’t really a tree yet. It was still a sapling. It was young and bare, but it had a few green leaves beginning to unfurl on its flimsy branches. In that moment, I saw myself as the tree growing above ground, and I knew I had entered a new season: spring! New life and growth. Light and green. Health and hope. Without even noticing, I left the barren wilderness and frozen ground behind and walked into the fulfillment of God’s promise all those months ago.