One of my favorite spots in Israel is the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus prayed and agonized with the Father before going to the cross. The olive trees in the garden are now over 2000 years old. To be near them and realize they were the very trees that Jesus knelt by before going to the cross, stirs my heart in ways I can’t even describe. The olive trees continue to flourish even after all these years. It’s remarkable! They remind me of the picture the Psalmist paints for us in Psalm 52:8-9:
But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God’s unfailing love forever and ever.
For what you have done I will always praise you
in the presence of your faithful people.
And I will hope in your name, for your name is good.
I read those words again this past week in my early morning time with Jesus and once again they stirred longing in me. Olive trees are strong and steadfast because their roots grow down deep into the soil. This is what allows them to flourish and thrive for years. I want my roots to grow down so deep into Christ that I remain faithful no matter my circumstances. I want to flourish in God’s goodness as I offer my life to be used by Him.
Flourishing in the seasons of blessing and favor is rather easy. Right? But what about the dry seasons? Or, what about when the storm winds blow? What about the seasons of great pain and difficulty? Is it possible to flourish even then?
As I’ve been thinking about this, I want to offer you a few suggestions for nurturing your “roots” so that they continue to dig down deep into the soil of God’s goodness.
3 Ways to Strengthen Your Roots
Spend a Few Minutes Each Day in God’s Word. Like a stream, God’s Word nurtures our faith. The Psalmist described the mature faith of the person who meditates on God’s Word: “That person will be like a tree planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Psalm 1:3). It’s now easier than ever to get into the Word of God. There are great apps and helpful tools out there that have been designed to help strengthen your walk. One of those tools is YouVersion. I now have four reading plans that are on YouVersion. These are simple five-day devotionals that get you into the Word every day. Even if you only read a few verses of scripture every day, the Holy Spirit will use those scriptures to strengthen your roots.
Surrender to God’s Pruning. Like vines that grow grapes, olive trees must be pruned to allow for new growth. Similarly, in our lives there are seasons when God will trim us back so that we can sink more deeply into Him. In His sovereignty, He will use a variety of tools to do this. Often, the tools He uses involve some type of suffering. It’s not that God is trying to make our lives miserable. He never intended for us to suffer. However, because we live in a fallen world where there is suffering, He promises to use that difficulty for our good growth (John 15:2, Romans 8:28). The next time you find yourself facing a trial or hardship, ask the Lord if there is something you can learn from your situation. How might He want you to surrender to His love, so that He can turn that suffering around for more fruitfulness in your life?
See Your Life Purpose as Reproducing the Life of Christ. Olive trees reproduce. They are fruitful. Our lives were intended for fruitfulness and to be continually transformed into the image of Christ (John 15:5, 2 Corinthians 3:18). Your life was intended for fruitful reproduction. The more we yield to Christ and view our life purpose as living in sync with Christ, the more the Holy Spirit will transform us into His image. The fruit of the Spirit will be a natural outgrowth (Galatians 5:22-26).
Friend, I want my life to resemble an olive tree, one that flourishes in every season. What about you? Spend a few minutes praying and asking God to bring your life into perfect union with His, so that no matter what season you are in you flourish!
For more thoughts on fruitful living check out Who Do You Say That I Am?