Friday, July 1, 2016
Like many who have gone before me, the first Bible passage I memorized as a boy was the 23rd Psalm. And, if the 23rd Psalm was the first, the 1st Psalm was the second. Of course, the version I learned back then was the King James Version which began with the words, "Blessed is the man..." The New Revised Standard Version which I read today seems the lesser for modifying the translation to read, "Happy are those..." While I recognize what prompted the changed translation, this is one passage where the learning of long ago is very much locked in.
However, in a recent reading, I found myself stopped by the image of "trees planted by streams of water." (Ps. 1:3) There are plenty of those in plain view down at the branch, or stream, which provides a natural boundary on the east side of the farm. There among the trees stand two towering white bark sycamore trees. Taller than almost all the trees around them, I stand in awe at their beauty and longevity. They have watched me work below them on my tractor. They have watched men before me plow the field with mules and others before them clear the land. For many decades they have strained upward all the while producing smaller versions of themselves in the woods below. By that steam of water they show no sign of withering, only maturity and fruitfulness.
It is obvious enough from the Word of God and the image it creates in this Psalm that the Holy Spirit is holding up a model by which the faithful are called to live. But, none of us can do it alone. As the sycamore trees depend on the water of the branch, so do we depend on the One who provides the water for our souls. In John 4:14 we hear Jesus saying to a woman at Jacob's Well, "The water that I will give will become in them a spring of water gushing up to eternal life." Gush on, Holy Spirit.