“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; 2 but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. 3 He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. 4 The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away. Psalm 1:1–4
Sadie Piper made a very interesting point about ministry to me today and she has no idea she did. Here’s how it happened.
When Beckham graduated from Children’s Church they gave him an ESV Children’s Bible. It’s the actual text of Scripture rather than an abridged version with only stories. Problem is he reads at a 12th grade Arkansas level, which of course is a 1st Grade Kansas level so there are not many words in it he has a grasp on.
He likes to bring it to the Worship service at Redeemer and flip through it, but he has really wanted us to read it to him during the service. I told him we’ll read it later and then for awhile in a disappointing father way I did not read it to him. Mostly just forgetting about it, but also with some dumb idea that he wouldn’t be able to track with what I read.
So this week at breakfast I began to read and explain Psalm 1 to Becks and Sadie Piper. It’s only day two and I can’t guarantee day three will happen so don’t be too impressed. Anyway, the plan was to read them a chapter a day. Day one we finished two verses and I only kinda think they understood.
Best I remember, the first two verses by the end of talking were reduced to… the man who wants to be happy should not listen to the bad advice of people we don’t love God. But they should love God’s Word and they should think about God’s Word as much as they can.
This morning was day two and we read verses 3 & 4. I’ve learned already that they learn better from my asking questions about the text than just my talking.
So our verses read like this, “He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.”
I told them God is comparing one thing to another to teach us something. Like I might say Beckham is as fast as a lion. Do I think Beckham is a lion? No. I’m just trying to tell you I think Beckham is really fast.
The following is lacking rabbit trails and completely unrelated comments that make the whole experience funnier.
So I asked Beckham and Sadie Piper…
– What do trees need to grow? Water
– So what happens if I plant a tree in the desert? It won’t grow cause there is no water (don’t get caught up in the details)
– Do you know what a stream of water is? lakes, ponds, creeks, “really really really long lakes”
– So if a tree needs water and you plant it next to a lake what do you think will happen? It grow big big big, Becks even rose in his chair to show me how big they grow.
So God is telling us that the person who loves God’s Word and who thinks about God’s Word all the time will grow up strong like a tree planted next to water.
– What would happen if you went outside and tried to push our tree over? It wouldn’t move because it’s too big.
– Y’all know what chaff is? No.
– Me neither, but I know it’s kinda like those leaves (we are looking out back window at leaves we’ve failed to rake up at this point, they may even be from Fall 2011), dead pieces of plant that are not connected anywhere. What would happen if you pushed on them? We could pick them up.
– What happens if the wind blows a tree? Nothing. Why not? It’s big and strong.
– What happens if the wind blows those leaves? Crazy Talk, I lead them to see that the leaves will go wherever the wind blows because they are not strong.
So that was fun, but then Sadie Piper kinda ruined my day when she said this afterwards,
“Dad, we could fill up buckets of water and pour them on our tree so it will grow bigger.” (because our tree is not planted by a stream of water)
Hmm… My head is already thinking analogies and it occurs to me what she just said is a bit of what we actually are doing.
I think of how much time I spend in God’s Word (sometimes great, other times pathetic) I think about the way many of our youth at Heritage and Redeemer function in this analogy.
We talk about being in God’s word, being planted next to a stream of water like we see in Psalm 1 and while we aren’t necessarily in a desert (some of us at some times are) we are often planted in fields away from water.
So what do we do to minister to youth who are not delighting in God’s Word and who are not meditating on God’s Word (Psalm 1:2)?
In a sense we fill up a bucket of water, of God’s Word, and we pour it on them. We pour a bucket on them Sunday morning, we pour a bucket on them if they come to youth group, we pour a bucket on them in Chapel and a bucket in Bible Class.
I know this well because I fill these bucket and I lug these buckets and I pour out these buckets (along with many others) and I see that it is good for some, they grow. But for other students, it’s like throwing water on hard soil where only some of the water ever soaks in. My prayers are often filled with a plea for God to soften the soil and cause growth. If you’ve actually read this far I ask that you would pray too for covenant children, particulary those in their teens.
So, all this lugging of water works ok, but I guess the real concern here is what happens when we are no longer there to pour buckets of Scripture on them a few days a week?
Maybe you see now why Sadie Piper ruined my day.
I want so badly to see our students like trees planted along side streams of water, rooted in the Word of God. Delighting and meditating on that which gives vision to what really matters in life. I desire this for our students and the lugging and pouring and lugging and pouring of water, while good, is not the end goal.
The bigger question is this: How do we help to dig up these trees where we find them and plant them next to the river?
I’d love to hear other people’s ideas on this, but here is where I’m at right now.
1. We’ll need prayer, for illumination, for soft soil, for love of God’s Word.
2. We’ll need parents who read the Word with their children, who will encourage their children to spend time in the Bible with as much diligence as they encourage finishing homework and sports and cleaning their rooms.
3. We’ll need older believers and younger Christians and peers in their life pointing them ever back to Scripture for everything.
4. We as parents will need to be sure we are planted personally next to the river. After all, the normal way God works is a lot like an acorn falling from a tree. Be planted near the water that brings delight.
5. And we’ll need more buckets and more people lugging it to the trees who simply aren’t planted near streams of water.
Note: I admit there may be errors in this analogy, I don’t hold on to it like I do Scripture, but I find analogies help me understand and felt I ought to share it with you as well.