Danny De los Reyes
12The righteous will flourish like a palm tree,
they will grow like a cedar of Lebanon;
13 planted in the house of the Lord,
they will flourish in the courts of our God.
Psalm 92:12-13 NIV
This memory is etched in my mind: my first grade teacher asked us to bring a glass jar, some cotton balls and a few beans for a science project. We were going to see how a bean could germinate into a fruitful plant. We all grabbed our jar, stuffed a piece of cotton inside, carefully placed our little bean in and poured some water on it. I was counting down the seconds to see my plant sprout, like one of those magical instant mini towels that you can get as a souvenir at theme parks. Sadly, the teacher informed me that it would take more than just a few seconds to see my plant sprout. As a matter of fact, it would take more than minutes or hours; we were in for a long process.
As patient as only a first grader could be, the first thing I did when arriving at school for the next two weeks was run to the back of my classroom and check on my plant. Nothing happened the first few days, but then some changes started to occur. I noticed that the coat ruptured and a sprout started to emerge. Soon there were roots, stems and leaves, and finally the day arrived when that jar was no longer the right place for my plant to further develop.
Around that time, my family moved to a house my parents built, which has a big backyard. I found what I thought was the best spot for my growing plant and tended to it every day after school. There was only one problem. I had planted it by the path to the tool shed. From time to time, a family friend would help with the upkeep of our lawn, and he always made sure the path to the tool shed was clear. On one particular day, he mowed over my plant thinking it was a mere weed (I’m not bitter about it anymore, though). That day I learned a lesson: the importance of being planted in the right place and at the right time.
The original audience of Psalm 92, knew what the psalmist was talking about when he compared a righteous person to a flourishing palm tree and a growing cedar of Lebanon. They knew that the palms were represented in the iconography of the temple courts and the cedar represented the cedar beams that were holding the temple. Let’s remember that the temple was where the presence of the Lord dwelt. It’s a significant comparison; to be like a palm tree and a cedar means to be planted near the presence of God. A friend once told me that flourishing at the right time has nothing to do with the tree, and everything to do with where that tree is planted. The same is true for people.
So how do we flourish? How do we plant ourselves in the right place? How do we plant ourselves in the presence of God?
Here are three ways to guide us down that path:
- You’re doing one right now. As you read and pray through these devotionals, you’re putting yourself in the right place. Praying and fasting are spiritual disciplines that help us to realize that we can’t depend on ourselves, but that our dependence comes from above.
- Surrounding yourself with the right people. I’m not saying you can’t be friends with all kinds of people, or to only have Christian friends, but there is so much truth to that old saying, “Show me your friends and I’ll show you your future.” I’ve heard it said that “you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.” So, let’s be intentional about who we let in. What if we found friends with the spiritual authority to speak life into us? To intercede on our behalf for the presence of God to show up in our lives?
- Don’t forsake corporate worship. God can show up when we read scripture and pray alone in our bedroom. He can also move while we have a conversation with a friend, but there’s something powerful when we come together to worship Him. There’s something special when the atmosphere is charged and we’re focused on Him. And He is there. Matthew 18:20, says “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Do you want to be fruitful? Remain faithfully planted. The right place to be planted is here – the right time is now.