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Friday, October 12, 2012

A Long Way From Living Water






They are like a 
tree
  planted by a flowing stream,
which produces fruit every season,
   and its leaves never wither.


  Psalm 1:3






     We planted a river birch in our front yard soon after we moved here in 1988. It was recommended as an attractive tree that wouldn’t take forever to grow and would provide some great shade.

     We should have realized, though, that with a name like river birch (and the fact that this tree has only a modest root system) that it might prefer living beside a creek somewhere.

     Unfortunately, our location is about as far from a stream as one can get. Hamlet Drive is right at the elevation point just north of the city limits that marks a divide between the run off water that flows south into Blacks Run (and finally into the South Fork of the Shenandoah River at Port Republic) and the water that flows north from us that forms Linville Creek (which heads northward into the North Fork of the Shenandoah River at Timberville).

     As a result of its distance from a good water source, some of our birch’s leaves begin to turn brown and fall off when the tree becomes too stressed by summer heat and drought, requiring us to give it a good soaking every so often in a dry season.

     Naturally, as a preacher, I can hardly resist drawing parallels, like each of us thriving best when we are rooted near lots of water. The term “living water” in the Bible originally refers to running water, as by the kind of abundant stream described in the above psalm. Without an ample supply of life giving moisture, we all begin to wither.

     Interestingly, while trees often show stress by shedding some their leaves prematurely, flowers and other plants wilt and may become limp and lifeless. Well watered plants remain green and upright. With each of their cells filled with water, they are "turgid," a term one learns in plant biology.

     What a difference a good supply of living water makes.

     And not just to a tree.
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