When I walk into the forest, there is a glorious odor that floods my nostrils and forces me to inhale deeply, without restraint. It’s an earthy smell— a combination of damp soil, decaying plants, and fresh oxygen pouring from the leaves of the trees and undergrowth. It’s nearly intoxicating every time. When I catch my first whiffs I can think of nothing else. I close my eyes and take in a few slow, deep breaths.
The physiological impact of those deep breaths is recorded all over the place. Slowing our breath deactivates the sympathetic nervous system’s chemical cascade in response to stress. It’s no wonder that my instinct is to rush to the woods when I am feeling overwhelmed and ready to quit.
With the help of energy from the sun, trees take in the air around them and send roots down deep into the earth to draw up water and convert it to the carbon dioxide they need to live and grow. The byproduct of that chemical exchange is the oxygen we need to live and grow. It’s pretty much a miracle.
I’m reminded of how we are to be like the trees of the forest— pouring out the breath of life for others. We send our roots down deep to draw up living water. The Holy Spirit provides the energy and light we need to convert the nourishment we take in through our personal communion with Christ and convert it into the hope and love the world is gasping for.
As we live and breathe, we are growing and developing greater capacity to continue the cycle. Our canopy spreads to create shade for the oppressed and shelter from the storms of life that others are walking through. We exist to partake of the divine exchange, our every need provided for, but ultimately what we are for others is so much more. The Spirit causes our branches to produce good fruit that is food for the spiritually hungry whom we encounter. That same fruit produces seeds that allow God’s love to reproduce in our midst, or perhaps be carried far from where we are planted, spreading Hope throughout the earth.
Take a few deep breaths now as you read the scriptures below. Slow down and realize all the ways you are impacting the lives of others by simply existing in a state of oneness with Christ. You are “a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”
Even if you do not own that description of planting and purpose, read these passages and imagine yourself sending roots down deep to find life-giving water. Let the Spiritual nourishment of God’s word be converted into the hope you need for today and the love others are so hungry for in this tired time.
Psalm 1:3 // He [who delights in God’s ways] 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.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 // “Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Galatians 5:22-23 // But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.
Isaiah 61:1-3 // The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me, because the Lord has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor and the day of vengeance of our God, to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion—to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.
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