One of the most important parts of any plant is its roots. The roots are where a plant finds its stability. As the roots grow deeper and wider, the plant is able to grow taller and be able to withstand the wind because it has such a solid base. A plants roots also draw in the nutrients and energy that the plant needs to grow. The better and more nutritious the soil, the better the nutrients that the roots can draw up to the plant itself.
During Hurricane Harvey, I traveled to Rockport to help families clean up their properties after the storm. One thing struck me as I went from house to house, cutting branches and hauling them away, was that these massive oak trees, some were twenty and thirty feet tall, were flattened and knocked over, roots and all. These huge trees had this huge root ball torn out of the ground. It was obvious that with the downpour of rain on sandy soil had softened the ground and when the high winds came, these beautiful oak trees could not stand up against the storm. And now they had to be chopped up and hauled away to the trash.
King David uses the analogy of a tree to teach us something very important as we look ahead to this new year. During this holiday season, one thing we celebrate is hope. Hope is a good thing. Do you know that God created us to hope? He hardwired us to hope.
The question then is not do you have hope? The question is what do you hope in?
We all place our hope in someone or something, so let me define the word hope. Author and pastor Paul David Tripp defines hope this way. It requires three things. First, hope begins with an assessment. Hope begins when you and I look at our life and come to the conclusion that we need ____ to be satisfied. Our Christmas lists were filled with things we hoped would make us happy. The new call of duty, that star wars lego set, that piece of clothing, that doll, that toy. On and on. Once we have assessed what we think we need, we then begin to search for it and pursue it, hoping we will get it. That is why parents have to hide presents and wrap them is miles of wrapping paper and ribbon to keep you from sneaking a peak. Don’t tell me you don’t do that. We judge people in our lives based on how well they deliver on what I hopefully expect from them. The third thing is hope only works, of course, if we have something or someone, to deliver the happiness and satisfaction that we’re expecting. Whether it is Santa Claus, good grades, our parents, or our friends, there is something or someone who we put our hope in.
Like a tree, we sink our roots into what we hope for. In a sense, hope is the soil that we grow the roots of our lives in. So what kind of soil are you trying to grow your roots in? What are you putting your hope in? Is it toys, money or having the right clothes? Is it entertainment? Gaming? TV? Movies? Videos? Is it friends? Relationships? Being liked? Is it getting good grades?
Again, the question is not do you have hope, but instead, what do you hope in? What do you hope will make you happy?
We all probably know the “right” answer to that question, but you actually answer that question in this way. What do you spend your time doing? What do you want to spend your time doing? Who do you want to spend time with? What do you watch? What do you spend time on the computer or device doing? These tell you what you are hoping will make you happy. If you remember earlier from Psalm 1, there are two big truths that David wants us to take to heart. First, do not walk in the counsel of the ungodly. Counsel means advice. Someone who gives that advice is a counselor. There are counselors all over, trying to give you advice, trying to give you counsel. Every TV show you watch, there is a message. Every book you read, there is counsel. Every friend you spend time with, they are a counselor. Psalm 1 says be wise and does not even start walking down the path of the ungodly. Instead, delight in the counsel of God’s Word.
The second truth is what you sow, you will reap. Every action, every decision, has a consequence. That consequence could be good or bad. It depends on the seeds you sow. On what you do. Why are we so surprised that we are tired and grumpy when we have been staying up late, eating junk food? It’s the harvest of the seeds we sowed.
My challenge to you this new year is this, sink your roots into a hope that will truly satisfy and delight your heart.
This hope is not something, no, it is someone. It is Jesus Christ.
If you are like me, it is so easy to be selfish in what I put my hope in. I look for so many things that I think can replace Jesus and satisfy my heart. These things, these people, are poor sources of hope and in fact, they lead me down the path of destruction. Jesus has proved Himself to be true, reliable and the only place that I can rest my hope and be satisfied. I know I can trust Him because He has proven Himself in the past. History shows that time and again. Jesus is faithful. Because He has been faithful in the past, I know He will be faithful in 2018.