Dried Out and Living in the Desert
I am reading a book. It is called “Make Fear Bow” by Gary Whetstone. This book is challenging me to deal with the areas of fear I still hold in my life. It was recommended to me by a friend, and even though I am not finished with it, I already recommend it. It will challenge you to deal with fear, as well as helping identify the root causes of your fears. However, that is not exactly what this article is about. I could discuss fear, but really its a minor aside he made that prompted this writing. He briefly mentions a passage in Jeremiah which has had me stuck for about a day. Its chapter 17, verses 5-10 let me share them here.
Thus says the LORD: “Cursed is the man who trusts in man and makes flesh his strength, whose heart turns away from the LORD. He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.
Blessed is the man who trusts in the LORD, whose trust is the LORD. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.
The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
The Desert Shrub
So let’s begin with the first verse. In it, God shows us three stages of falling away.
- Trusting in Man
- Trusting in Self (Arm of Flesh)
- Turned Heart
I believe that these three things are actually a pattern. We do number one, then when it fails we do number two. When we realize number doesn’t work, we blame God as if it was His fault that our strength failed. So finally our heart turns from Him. In reality our heart has been turning in each of the previous stages, but stage three is where we actually acknowledge it for ourselves.
What is interesting is that God tells us that following this pattern brings a curse. Its actually a cause and effect. Because you followed this pattern it leads you to its natural end. The Curse. So what is this curse? ” He is like a shrub in the desert, and shall not see any good come. He shall dwell in the parched places of the wilderness, in an uninhabited salt land.”
Now we know that you don’t physically become a shrub in th desert, this passage has prophetic implications. You see, the bible tells us that there is a river that flows from the throne of God and it a river of peace, pleasure, and gladness. (psalm 46:4, Psalm 36:8, Isaiah 66:12) When your heart trust in God, you are connected to this river. Its life giving waters overflowing within your soul. When you are connected to this river you bear fruit and grow, and live. (Ezekiel 47, Revelation 22)
However, when you are disconnected from this river you are not being fed from its waters. Instead of partaking in the life of God, you are dry and barren. Instead of the life giving fresh water that never runs dry, you get salt water, barrenness, and desert dry living. How awful is that.
What’s worse is that the scripture says, “…and shall not see any good come.” This doesn’t mean there is no Good, but rather that you are blinded from seeing it. Because God is the source of everything Good, when you are not recognizing Him, you are unable to recognize His goodness, and His blessing.
Being disconnected from the river of God is equivalent to giving yourself over to spiritual death. You turn from God, and all of His goodness and instead are met with death, dehydration, and depravity. If this is you, I want you to take a minute and realize that God does not desire this for you. His heart for you is to prosper you, to bless you, and to give you good things. (Jeremiah 29:11) The dry and barren land you feel is a direct result of your not trusting in God and trusting in self and others.
If this is where you are, turn your heart to God. Even though all you can SEE is dry, death, broken, and barren. You need to know that God has good things for you. You need to be willing to trust God and His plans even though at the moment you cannot see them. Take a moment now to pray and ask God to forgive you for trusting in others, for trusting in yourself, and not trusting Him. Ask Him to pull you out of the barrenness and bring you back to the living waters and His blessing.
The Tree Rooted to the River
Now, the second portion of the passage shows us the blessing for those who do trust in God. ” He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
This is literally the exact opposite of what happens when you turn from God. You are planted with roots that go deep and reach the stream. His water continually supplies life. You are green with life and you produce fruit. Not only once in a while, but continually. You consistently bear fruit as you are planted in Him, because His living water gives you the nutrients of His Spirit to produce fruit in your life.
Further, being securely rooted in the ground and attached to the river means you do not have to fear the heat. When you have the water, the heat can’t destroy you. But if you are dry, you become tinder for fire, and the heat can burn you up and leave you with only a pile of ash.
The Human Heart
The final portion of the passage deals with the human heart. God says through the prophet Jeremiah, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? I the LORD search the heart and test the mind, to give every man according to his ways, according to the fruit of his deeds.”
The world constantly tells us cold clichés like “Follow your heart” or “Listen To Your Heart.” but this is stupid. It doesn’t take a bible scholar to tell you the heart is a liar. That is why people who follow their heart often find themselves hurt and broken. Half of the time we don’t even know our own heart. In fact its not till we are truly tested by fire that we begin to realize what is truly down in our heart. Some find nobility and character, but the majority of us find ourselves lacking.
This is the reason that time and time again the Bible encourages us to Trust in the Lord. Becuase He knows the human heart better than we do. He made it, formed it, and has the ability to truly read it. So instead of relying on man, or your own heart. Let God be your source and your supply. Let Him guide you. So I want you to think on it. To pray on it. To meditate on the scriptures we have discussed. Finally I have one last scripture to leave you with. I know you are already well familiar with it. So Read it and then live it out.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)