My New Year’s Resolution is more like a picture. I want to think of this picture every day. It’s a beautiful, mental picture I have of a tree. The Oleander. Yeah, that’s right, the Oleander. Haven’t you heard of it? Well me neither until recently. Apparently, this tree can only be found in the valley of Jordan. According to A.P. Stanley*, its bright blossoms and dark green leaves are too beautiful to be passed over. He describes this tree to be magnificent, having an appearance as a rich garden.
Can you picture it?
Now, plant that tree in your mind by several channels of water. This way it will be abundantly nourished, producing its ravishing blossoms at just the expectant time. Those leaves will always be lustrous and dark.
That’s my New Year’s resolution—to be that blessed tree.
David describes a tree is much like the Oleander in Psalm 1:1-3:
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
This year I want more blessing from God, and less blessing of myself. I don’t know exactly what those blessings will be, but I know what they look like. They look like that tree. And I know how to get them, by delighting in God’s Word.
Of course, it’s a blessing in itself to delight in God’s Word. To ache for it, and be comforted in it comes only to us who have been showered with God’s abundant grace in the giving of his Holy Spirit. But there’s more—meditating on his Word day and night. Martin Luther explains that to meditate is much more than just thinking. It “signifies to discuss, to dispute; and its meaning is always confined to a being employed in words, as in Ps. 32:30, ‘The mouth of the righteous shall meditate wisdom.’” Does my mouth meditate wisdom? Sometimes. Certainly not like it should, as the tree yielding its fruit in season.
I have a problem with thinking I should be able to produce everything at once. That’s why I get frustrated with the Proverbs 31 woman. To think of having all this food brought from afar, buying real estate, clothing my family, and selling merchandise while my children were nursing and running all over the place was exhausting for me. But this is the lifetime of the woman described. May we produce the proper fruit in its season.
Likewise, I have this mental picture of a mature, glorious tree. I’m not there yet. But God has planted me in Christ. And I can drink from his Word and meditate in it. That means that I will not only read and hear it, but listen to it, study it, learn from it, share it, and teach it. And what will happen? I will bring forth spiritual fruit in its proper season. Spurgeon exhorts, “Not unseasonable graces, like untimely figs, which are never full-flavoured. But the man who delights in God’s Word, being taught by it, bringeth forth patience in the time of suffering, faith in the day of trial, and holy joy in the hour of prosperity.”
Because God has planted me in Christ, this will happen. All these fruits are blessedness. But the supreme blessing will be that beatific vision of Jesus Christ in his full glory—my future hope gives me joy in the present. My elder, Mike, preached a sermon today on Psalm 97 titled, Roots of Rejoicing. This January I will be picturing my Oleander roots and how blessed they are.
*All quotes in this article are taken from The Treasury of David, Vol. 1, by Charles H. Spurgeon (Hendrickson Publishers)