|The Blessed Woman: Introduction |
When we moved to Saint Catharines, Ontario, we bought a fixer-upper home. We inherited a front garden from the previous owners that was more woody-shrubs than flowering perennials, so I spent weeks pulling out, cutting back, and tidying up. It finally began to take shape. I transplanted in perennial cuttings from friends and waited for the garden to thrive. Spring came and went. Then summer. Fall and winter turned into another unfruitful spring. The garden slowly grew, but it never flourished in my care. I waited for five years, plenty of time for those plants to take root, but the greenery was hardly any thicker on the day we left than it was that very first spring.
Approximately one year after moving to a different city, I was back in Saint Catharines. I decided to drive by the old place and see what the new owners had done to it. I was so shocked by the transformation that I had to park the car so I could take it all in. The garden took my breath away. It was stunning—I mean award-winning, blue-ribbon, acknowledged-by-the-city stunning. The new owner had coaxed beauty and life from the same plants that were merely surviving under my care. At that moment, I finally saw all the potential I had missed. I had been too easily satisfied and pleased by the stunted growth I had cultivated.
The new owner had tapped into something that I lacked.
Many years, many houses, and many gardens later (we’ve moved ten times in our married life), I’ve unsuccessfully tried to plant thriving gardens. But the truth is, I don’t devote enough time to this endeavour to be successful. On a good gardening day, I might find time to dig a hole, add water, drop in a plant or two and give the ground a stomp before moving on. I don’t even think of it again until the plant is nearly dead from neglect.
Then, I overcorrect, probably from guilt, and send the kiddos out front with the hose to water. They happily spray the plants, the grass, the windows, the porch, and each other. This sudden over-attention causes those lucky plants to perk, but they also develop shallow roots. These plants learn to expect frequent soaking during this stretch of attention, and then they die because I eventually forget about them, and their shallow roots cannot sustain them.
In some ways, our faith is like that garden. When life is easy, when we are watered regularly, and our needs are met, we perk. We might even appear to flourish. It’s easy to stay satisfied and content when life is good, but what happens when life is not good? What happens when a drought comes, or the heat hits, and someone or something threatens life as you know it, and it causes you to question God’s goodness, His sovereignty, or His love?
Over my years as a ministry wife, I have seen people respond to perceived threats in a variety of ways. Some walk away from the Lord, others react in anger, and others develop a victim mentality that they struggle to shake. But every so often, I am blessed as I witness a believer determined to resist the temptation to define God’s goodness by how He responds to their requests. Their trust and hope are deeply rooted in the fertile Word of God. They have put in the time needed to nurture their confidence in God. This rich faith makes them sure of God’s character and love, and their life produces fruit in the middle of a drought. They do not fear. They are not anxious.
In many ways, you won’t know how deep your roots go until the drought comes. You won’t know until you are tested whether or not you have done the work of preparing the soil of your heart by providing it with the nutrients it needs to sustain life. You won’t know if you have sent down roots far enough to not just survive the trials but produce fruit during the drought. This mini bible study will help.
This eight-part study of Jeremiah 17:5-10 is about examining the soil of your heart. It’s about preparing yourself for a certain drought. It is about rooting yourself in the Word and allowing the Lord to lead you to the only water that matters so that when the heat hits, your roots will be the conduit that God uses to connect your soul to the nourishment it needs to survive.
We will learn what type of woman God blesses and how the blessed woman trusts in God. This trust enables her to produce an abundance of fruit, even when circumstances dictate that she should shrivel up and die. We will see that the blessed woman has a God-centered trust and a God-focused hope because she is rooted in the fertile soil of God’s Word. The blessed woman plants herself near to God, knowing He is the living water that leads to abundance. We will learn about the heart of the blessed woman and how she moves toward God, weeding out the sins that choke off life. The blessed woman chases holiness.
Spend today reading and pondering Jeremiah 17:5-10. You might find it helpful to write down your observations. Then look for the second part of this mini-study, The Blessed Woman, in your inbox tomorrow. We will dig into God’s Word together and begin the process of weeding out the lies that stunt our growth and replacing them with life-changing truth.