We planted a cherry blossom tree in our front yard two years ago. Today, it does not look like much. If you drove by, you might think we stuck a shoulder-height stick in the ground. But I know it’s a tree, and soon other people will know, too.
You can’t rush a tree.
Psalm 1 describes two different possibilities for your life—the way of the tree and the way of the chaff.
Blessed is the man
Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly,
Nor stands in the path of sinners,
Nor sits in the seat of the scornful;
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night (vv 1-2).
The Lord blesses the man who avoids the wrong crowds and instead fills his mind with the Word of God. The Psalmist compares that way of life to a tree:
He shall be like a tree
Planted by the rivers of water,
That brings forth its fruit in its season,
Whose leaf also shall not wither;
And whatever he does shall prosper (v 3).
The phrase “That brings forth its fruit in its season” caught my eye. I’m growing a Meyer lemon tree from seed. I love the unique fragrance and flavor of that kind of lemon, and if all goes well, I can expect to wait 3-5 years before it matures enough to produce fruit. In other words, fruit doesn’t come after a single day! Even trees that have the best potential for growth—e.g., the ones planted by flowing streams of water—still take years and years before they produce. But whether lemons or cherry blossoms, the season will come.
By contrast, the Psalmist compares the ungodly to chaff:
The ungodly are not so,
But are like the chaff which the wind drives away (v 4).
Chaff is the husks separated from the grain which are then discarded. Compared to a tree, the chaff comes and goes quickly. It sprouts up in a few months and then disappears with the wind.
If you’ve been frustrated by the slow pace of your spiritual growth, remind yourself that trees and chaff live very different lives, according to different timescales. Just as trees take years to mature and grow and bear fruit, so can your spiritual maturity. Just stay in the Word, and like a tree planted by streams of water, you’ll bear fruit in its season.
A few weeks ago, my cherry blossom finally sprouted a handful of pink flowers. Not many. Maybe not enough for the neighbors to notice. But I noticed. And it was a beautiful start.