Be a Tree, Not a Shrub – At Your Best

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As we start 2022, we all want to be at our best, but most of us are likely nowhere near being there. Instead of being at our best, we find ourselves overwhelmed, overcommitted, and overworked. Sound familiar?

This weekend, Lead Pastor Ben Snyder shared a passage with us from the Bible that illustrates what it looks like when we live life tired and burned out.

Jeremiah 17:6
They are like stunted shrubs in the desert, with no hope for the future. They will live in the barren wilderness, in an uninhabited salty land.

What a great visual for us to think about. This shrub in the middle of the desert can’t possibly be at its best. It may be alive, but it is not growing. It is isolated and stuck with no hope for the future.

In this same passage from Jeremiah 17, a contrasting illustration is also given. This one helps us see what it looks like when we are at our best.

Jeremiah 17:8-9
They are like trees planted along a riverbank, with roots that reach deep into the water. Such trees are not bothered by the heat or worried by long months of drought. Their leaves stay green, and they never stop producing fruit.

This tree is doing precisely what it was created to do. It is at its best, producing life, even in seasons of difficulty.

So what’s the difference between the two? How can our lives look more like the fruitful tree than the stunted shrub? The answer is found in who each one illustrates.

Jeremiah 17:5
This is what the Lord says: “Cursed are those who put their trust in mere humans,
who rely on human strength and turn their hearts away from the Lord.”

The shrub is cursed. It’s representative of our lives when we do it ourselves. When we try to create our best through our own efforts. Relying on our strength, or even on the strength of others, will never create the life God has intended for us.

In contrast, we see that the tree paints a picture of someone different. Verse 7 describes the person it represents.

Jeremiah 17:7
“But blessed are those who trust in the Lord and have made the Lord their hope and confidence.”

The tree is blessed. This tree illustrates what our lives look like when we trust God. It is what our lives look like when we place our hope and confidence in him and not in ourselves. It illustrates life at its best.

As you think about your life today and what prevents you from living at your best, consider the tree and the shrub. Are you like the shrub, relying on your own efforts to be at your best? Are you trying to create it on your own? Or, are you allowing God to move in your life, trusting him for the best?

When people are not at their best, how might they try to get there?

What have you been doing to be your best? Have you been relying on God or yourself?

Where do you need to start trusting him today?

Next Steps:
Whether you are tired or burned out, God has something better for you. Be open and ready to allow him to work in your life.

Participate in 21 Days of Prayer and Fasting. Check out our app or web pages for information on how to participate. Text “21 Days” to 419.419.0707 to receive daily prayer prompts and encouragement.

21 Days of Prayer:
Day 1 Focus – To Place My Trust in God  (Psalms 62:8)

God, in your Word you invite me to pour out my heart to you. You are my refuge. I know that anything I think, feel, or do is ok to bring to you. Knowing you are a safe place for me, I come to you and give you everything. From what worries me to what delights me, to what I hope for, to what I’m afraid of, I bring it all to you because I can trust you. (Talk to God about the specific things that are on your heart today). Help me and guide me in every area, in Jesus’ name, amen.

Today’s Parent Prayer

This post was written by Ben Bockert. Ben is a proud husband and father of three beautiful daughters. He is honored to serve as a regular contributor and editor of the LivingItOut.

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