“Mom, can we get it?”
“No. We do not need a cactus.”
“Please, Mom. It ‘s SO COOL. Can we at least take a picture for Dad?”

And that ‘s how we ended up with a tiny cactus. It’s cute and spiky… like a cactus. But I have to confess, I’m terrified to water it. Now I love plants! I do! And I’ve done okay with most of my plants. Most of them are thriving. And then there’s my snake plant. Snake plants are succulents. I have kept all my other succulents alive. My snake plant is grumpy, and a beautiful leaf dies every stinking time I water it.

Image of small spherical cactus from above
Our Tiny Cactus

So here I sit looking at this tiny cactus, afraid to water it. In nature, rain is sporadic in the desert, so the cactus soaks up every drop. Overwatering will create a soggy, dead mess instead of this cute little guy.

A Tree Planted by the Water

The book of Psalm opens with 6 verses contrasting opposite ways of life:

Blessed is the one
    who does not walk in step with the wicked
or stand in the way that sinners take
    or sit in the company of mockers,
but 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 water,
    which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
    whatever they do prospers.

Not so the wicked!
    They are like chaff
    that the wind blows away.
Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment,
    nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.

For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous,
    but the way of the wicked leads to destruction.

Psalm 1:1-6

As I considered a tree planted by the water, I couldn’t help but think of and contrast my cactus.

Where are you planted?

Girl (and guy, too, if you are reading this), you are not a spiritual cactus. You need the streams of Life daily. You don’t get to store up Jesus and ride on that for awhile. Neglecting your spiritual needs leaves you dried up chaff, blowing in the wind. Before looking at a tree planted by the water, scripture points us to what it means to NOT be planted by the water.

Small spherical cactus in small brown pot against sky backdrop

Sin quenches our spiritual growth. The actions of verses 1 and 2 describe a progression:  went, stood, sat. (See An Old Testament Commentary for English Readers by Charles Ellicott). They show a person progressively more comfortable with sin. What we choose to ignore, we will soon find comfortable. What you find comfortable with soon be embraced. This is not to say that Christians should never be friends with non-Christians, scorn the worn, and live in an isolated commune. We are not of, but sent into this world. When we progressively drift further from the live-giving waters, we begin to shrivel. We are not spiritual cacti (yes, that’s the plural of cactus). We can’t store up enough Jesus to last. It’s not Jesus that won’t last; it’s us.

When the wind blows on a drought-riddled plant, it does not have deep roots to sustain it. Soon it is chaff, blowing in the wind. When hard times press into a Christian that is not rooted in God’s word, that Christian will not stand in her own strength. Withered, she will fall.

A Tree’s Delight

If you aren’t a cactus, what are you?

You, Dear Heart, are a tree. Trees stand tall in the winds that blow because of their strong root system. Their deep roots hold firm in solid ground. Trees drink through their roots, pulling water from the soil below the surface. Dry soil makes an unhappy tree. A tree planted near a stream is tied into a consistent water source because the soil is constantly and consistently moist.

So what are the streams you should be planted in? The law of the Lord: God’s word. We should delight in it and meditate on it day and night. Simply put, what flows into us will flow out of us. When we receive God’s grace, we give God’s grace. When we read about God’s love, we speak God’s love. God’s word is meant to be our daily bread. Sound familiar?

I can be a sporadic Bible reader, however some of the periods where I’ve been the most faithful prepared me for harsh hardships: the death of relationships, slander with no opportunity to speak up for myself, and seasons of aching loneliness. It’s as if God knew I needed to be ready (He did know!). Those faithful feedings strengthened my soul for war. They rooted me. They gave me living water.

Living Water

As I considered Christians as trees, planted by the water, my mind flashed to another place in scripture where Christ talks about need for water. When Jesus meets the Samaritan woman at the well he offers her living water:

10 Jesus answered her, “If you knew the gift of God and who it is that asks you for a drink, you would have asked him and he would have given you living water.”

13 Jesus answered, “Everyone who drinks this water will be thirsty again, 14 but whoever drinks the water I give them will never thirst. Indeed, the water I give them will become in them a spring of water welling up to eternal life.”

John 10: 10,13-14

Looking at these two passages together gives us a rich view of Christ, the living water. Remember that in our first passage that we are to delight in the law of the Lord or his Word. In John 1:1, Jesus is referred to as the Word. The Bible is God’s Word. Jesus is God’s Word with us. (See Matthew 1:23 “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall call his name Immanuel” (which means, God with us). God’s Word, both through his Son and written revealed Word is water for our thirsty souls.

Letter tiles spelling out the words "Girl you are not a cactus" with small spherical cactus in pot
Even if you are a bit prickly, you are not a cactus.

Now here’s where I get to shoutin’!

Verses 13-14 have never really made sense to me. BUT look at them in connection to Psalm 1. How can we never be thirsty again? BECAUSE our roots are tied into the stream of living water. There’s no drought when you are fed by living water. You will not wither not matter how hot the sun beats or how hard the wind blows. You are a tree fed by the living water of Jesus Christ.

Girl, You Are Not a Cactus

I can’t lie to you: I often forget I am a tree flourishing by the stream and act like a cactus in the desert. I disconnect for a season, riding on what I have stored up. It’s easy to think to myself, “Oh I read my Bible last night.” or “I worked on the blog so I don’t really need to read my Bible, too.” Nope. I need my water. I am not a spiritual cactus. You are not a spiritual cactus.

Psalm 1:3 tells us that when we are planted by the stream, we will yield fruit, and we will not wither. Without water, we will not produce fruit. We will wither.

Girl, go get your Bible.
Drink deep.
And don’t worry; you can’t get overwatered.

Truthfully Yours,