A Shrub or a TREE

"Cursed is the one who trusts in man, who depends on flesh for his strength and whose heart turns away from the Lord. He will be like a SHRUB in the wastelands; he will not see prosperity when it comes, he will dwell in the parched places of the desert, where no one lives." Jeremiah 17:5-6
I remember reading those verses for seemingly the first time during a miserable "dry" era of my life--during my mid-teens. I was shocked at how accurately this verse described my existence.
"Whoa! That’s me!" I wanted to shout. "I'm that shrub!" and it was clear why. My vitality was reduced to a shriveled, lonely, thirsty, stunted shrub because my heart was departing from the Lord. I was looking only to people, friends, excitement (I have always had serious "thrill issues" anyway), pleasure, and even myself. Grasping anywhere but Him for every longing of my heart. Praying to him? Yes. Reading His word? Yes. Oh, but the heart of my desire wasn't for Him. It was the classic shrub/wasteland experience.
Most of us have wasted days in that loathsome state and discover only thirst and loneliness as we claw for fulfillment and security in those barren things. It is an ironic loneliness though, for so many of us wasteland campers are in the same desert "where no one lives" together. Ah, but there is no fellowship (camertismo) in this desert because as we lean solely on each other and not on the Lord, we are barely alive and most assuredly have nothing to offer. We end up judging and blaming when our needs are not met, not to mention we become unwanted company--which drives us further into isolation!
As you would conclude, I did not wish to stay in this wilderness. With my cursed condition diagnosed and tears gathering, I eagerly read on; in search of the cure for my "shrubbiness". Just listen--this is beautiful!
"Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, and whose hope is in the Lord. For he shall be like a TREE, planted by the waters, which spreads out his roots by the River, and will not fear when heat comes; but its leaf will be green and it will not be anxious in the year of drought, nor will it cease bearing fruit." As Anna would say, "Hallelujah!"
This lovely, strong tree has nothing to fear, nothing to lose from distressing surroundings, outside influence, or turmoil. Nothing will stop it from bearing fruit. I had previously taken little responsibility for feeling depressed, restless, having little enthusiasm for Jesus, and not bearing fruit. It was problems such as: "My church and family aren't on fire for God", "I have so little encouragement from people around me", "No one cares =-)”, "I am always around people who drain strength from me “, "There is so little excitement in my life", "So much is demanded of me," etc, etc.
When I realized my life could be vibrant regardless of my climate, my neighbors, etc.; my excuses--like a spark on a measly match--were extinguished. My trust and hope was hinged on futility and my heart had obviously departed from the Lord. Tears began to wash down as I confessed my idolatry and dropped my pointed fingers, acknowledging the guilt of my faithlessness. I felt the familiar current of that River of mercy wash over my crusty heart once again!
I would be delighted to inform you that ever since that revelation, my heart has never departed from the Lord or trusted in man for my strength. That day after blissful day, I have unwaveringly plowed my healthy roots deeper, resting in hope, trusting in the living God!
However, it is not so. It has been a journey of readjusting my trust everyday and in every instance. Quite naturally and without effort or fail, my heart will depart from looking to the Lord. Blessings or trials can send me into this wandering state, looking outside of the Life Giver for joy and strength. I have had to revisit these passages and ask painful questions over and over since then. However, His Spirit, without fail, brings me back to my place by "The Riv". Here the peace and vitality are indescribable, however, the outcome of this trust is so much more than personal satisfaction!
Isaiah 61 begins by telling us the Messiah is coming and the amazing restoration He will bring. Verse 3 continues to share that He will "...grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting; so they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified." That is the goal. All that He may be glorified! Jesus' teaching in John 15:8 confirms the relevance of this Old Testament truth. He says, "By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be My disciples." There is more than our well being and reputation at stake here, saints: we have the privilege of exalting the Highest King!
At this time in my life, there are new and exciting ways to abide in and trust Him for the needs of my entire being. Lately it has meant trusting Him for infusions of strength and kindness toward my family after a long (or hard) day of painting, laundry, and teaching, or just work in general. It has meant laying my concern for finances and the future completely in His hand, and refusing to be anxious. It means leaving the scripting of my human love story to God's pen. It means refusing to believe the devil's lies about me, my family members, and my circumstances. It has meant using my time wisely so that I can spend more time with my True Lover, drawing closer to His heart. Rather than trying to produce fruit in others and myself, it has meant relying on Him in prayer and bringing my failings and others' needs to Him. Trusting; not striving. As my Mom pointed out to me the other day that a branch-tree doesn't "do" anything--on its own. Jesus said again in John 15:5 "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." We are to receive from the Lord and abide in Him. Obviously obeying His commands, etc., is part of abiding; but again, not on our own. It is He that does that work in us. If we would but trust, cooperate and endure!
So, my dear sisters, if you ever find yourself in the midst of a shrub/wasteland experience, take heart. Your King has prepared a better place for you. Take the time to identify the false things you have been hoping in, and chasing after. Examine where your hope and desires have been placed in. Confess these to God and run your heart back to "the River", "the Source", the "Author and Finisher of Your Faith". I find it helpful to explicitly list those things to God that you have decided to trust Him for. Enjoy! Oh, and keep an eye out for the inevitable fruit! (Repeat as necessary--all throughout the day)
"Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit." (Romans 15:3)
God blessings and sister love to you all,


  1. Great article, Brooke!
    You look good by the shrub . . .but you're a tree, not a shrub. :)

  2. I built my blog on the "tree" scripture, I Love that one!

    Psalm 37:4, "Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart."

    Blessings, C~

  3. Wonderful thoughts, Brooke! He is the One and Only who truly satisfies.
    At this time in my life, there are new and exciting ways to abide in and trust Him for the needs of my entire being...
    Your list of instances He's showing you to trust and rest in Him were right on the button.

  4. Hello there, I arrived here after reading some comments on a post from the YLCF. Your blog looks very nice and I'll try to remember to stop back by here. If you'd like, drop by my blog (Footprints in the Sand is my main blog). Have a great day!

    ~Elizabeth J.

  5. Loved your thoughts on these scriptures. I'm going to print this out and re-read it!

  6. Praise Him! Sorry its so long, guys...I guess thats why I named my blog as an epistle. Looking fwd to more posts by the circle!


Please keep in mind Luke 6:45 (A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.), Proverbs 21:23 (Whoever guards his mouth and tongue keeps his soul from troubles.) and Psalm 19:14 (May the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, O LORD, my Rock and my Redeemer.)before posting a comment.