by Robert Jacobs
“I just need milk, eggs, and bread,” I told myself as I entered the grocery store. I have a habit of getting distracted. Trips to the store that should take no more than five minutes turn into half hour excursions. I suffer from the “oh, something shiny” syndrome, a debilitating condition that seems to be getting worse as I get older.
With my eyes fixed on the first objective—the dairy case—I attempted to quickly pass through the floral section at the front of the store. Out of the corner of my eye, though, I saw the strangest bouquet of flowers: a set of two dozen tie-died roses. After pausing for a moment to look at the botanical miracle, I quickly got back to my mission, making it out the door in four minutes and forty-two seconds (well, I didn’t have a stop watch running, but it was faster than normal).
When I got home with my provisions, I had a question in my brain that needed an answer: how did they make those roses look like that? Was this some sort of new species of rose? Were they the result of genetic experimentation? Had I simply lost the ability to view colors correctly and, consequently, would need to make an appointment with an ophthalmologist?
I found the answer I was looking for on an on-line flower delivery service’s website. According to Pro-Flowers, “One of the easiest methods for dyeing flowers is to use the absorption method. Florists fill large plastic vases with water along with food coloring. Freshly cut stems rest in the colored water, and, after a few hours of drinking, the flowers display different colors.” In other words, the flowers feed on the water they are placed in, taking on the characteristics of that water as a result.
Given that the scripture repeatedly uses plant based metaphors to describe our relationship with Christ and the process of our sanctification, this principle of plant-dying seems to hold spiritual significance. In the first psalm, David asserts that he “whose delight is in the law of the Lord and who meditates on his law day and night[,] that person is like a tree planted by streams of living water, which yields its fruit in season and whose leaf does not wither” (Ps 1:2-3).
If a tree is “planted by streams of living water,” then it is that living water that the tree will be drinking through its root system. That living water, in turn, provides nourishment that causes the tree to yield fruit, even in the harshest of seasons. Just like the roses at the grocery store that had taken on the color of the water they were nourished by, so also do we take on the characteristics of that which we choose to feed our souls.
The question for us is, what kind of “water” are we drinking? Are we like the tree described by David in Psalm 1, delighting in the word of God so that we produce His spiritual fruit? Or, are we drinking from another source? Are we drinking from the well of the world, soaking ourselves in that water so that we absorb all its lies and brokenness?
Not sure what water you are soaking in? Just look at the fruit of your life. Do you see love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control in your life? Or, are you exhibiting fear, despair, anxiety, bitterness, hypocrisy, selfishness, and impulsivity? The health and even physical nature of the plant, as seen by the dyed flowers in the grocery store, is directly related to its source of nutrients. Feed on His word. Abide in Him. And see the fruit of your life transformed.