“Blessed is who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly but his delight is in the law of the Lord.  He is like a tree planted by the rivers of water that brings forth fruit.”  Psalm 1:1-3

“Whoever drinks of the water I shall give him shall never thirst….will become a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.”  John 4:14

I, at one time, flew helicopters.  Due to the age of the helicopters I flew, they did not have state-of-the-art navigation systems or autopilots.  Our primary method of navigation was good old fashion paper maps (and yes there is a point to this).  So I was always looking for landmarks to tell me where I was and rivers made for good landmarks.  You might think that rivers are easy things to pick out and if you’re talking the mighty Mississippi you’re right.  But smaller rivers, not so much; you see they’re flat.  Helicopters, at least the ones I flew, fly low so you could be very close to a river and not see it; except for the trees.  That’s because rivers are most always lined by trees.  In the east where there are a lot of trees, you can tell where the river is because that is where the trees grow the tallest and have the greenest foliage.  In the west or in the plains states, the contrast is even greater.  You can be flying for miles and miles over stark, brown, barren ground and then in the distance, you see them.  I line of trees stretching out for miles; then you know, you’re coming to a river.

The author of the first psalm knew this.  That person knew that trees grow strongest by the river.  He knew that trees are given life and abundantly nourished by the waters of the river.  He knew that a tree isolated; trying to survive without water, in a land with no other trees is most likely doomed.

Jesus knew this as well.  Jesus knew the sustaining power of water and our absolute need for it.  He knew and taught about two types of water.  There is the worldly water that seems to satisfy, yet that satisfaction is only temporary.  Thirst will come again.  Then there is the water from Christ which completely satisfies and will never leave a person thirsting again.

My point in all of this?  First, I will completely concede to anyone who sees a flaw in this analogy as it concerns choice and agree that we must understand it.  For unlike a tree that has no choice in where it is planted or where it decides to stay; we have that choice and the psalmist is exhorting us that our choice is a vitally critical one.  Where will we plant ourselves?  Will we decide that we want to try to grow out in the world apart from other believers deriving our sustenance from the waters of this world?  That is a very desolate and dangerous place where in the seeming midst of prosperity; devastating droughts can come bringing damage and even death.  Or, as Jesus invites us, will we come to Him and with the fellowship of others, drink in His water of everlasting life.

One other very important piece to this exhortation.  In this case, it is best to think about the trees surrounding an oasis in the desert or lining a river running through a parched and arid land.  The trees taking in the living water do so not just for their own growth so that they can become the tallest, healthiest tree with the most branches.  No like the trees in the oasis or along the river in a parched land, the trees provide fruit for others, they provide refuge and shelter from the ravages of the world.  Jesus Christ told us that those who take in the water become fountains of water themselves.  Think about how inviting those trees are what a symbol of hope they become to those parched and dehydrated living out in the desert of the world.

Thus Dear Sisters and Brothers, let us decide to place our roots beside the spring of Living Water provided freely by Jesus Christ.  A water flowing for eternity which no earthly dam can ever block nor worldly drought ever cease its flowing.  Regardless of our growth let us always humbly remember that the fruit we bare and the shelter we provide come not from our strength, but from the water that nourishes us.  That we might be vessels of that water, forging new streams that nourish the new trees of followers who come thirsty to drink the water of everlasting life.

Our Most Gracious Heavenly Father, Your Mercy, Love and Blessings last forever.  We are thankful for Your Gift of Jesus Christ and His promise to forever quench our thirst for life and love with His everlasting Living Water.  Help us to come together and grow ever stronger in You, baring fruit and providing shelter for those who are so hungry and so tossed by ravages of this world.  May it be that we become vessels of living water being not so concerned about our own thirst but striving to quench the thirst of those who are in such need.  That in baring fruit, providing shelter and quenching thirst, we would be bringing praise to Your Most Holy Name.  In the Name of Jesus Christ we pray.  Amen