It is not our necessary intent each week to just give a review of the sermon as a sort of transcript of what was preached, though that would not be worthless, especially in the summer months when many are travelling. (And I gave you yesterday off because of the holiday). We regularly write here a mix of ideas verbally shared along with additional thoughts.
But today I will begin with the opening illustration from Sunday, since many people afterward asked about a detail that I failed to include in the end of the story (as it was not related to my main idea, but the omission left people hanging).
It was 34 years ago, the actual date being June 13, 1982. Having just graduated from Dallas Seminary, I was still working as the minister of music in a church in Dallas. Our morning services had ended and probably about 80-90% of the people had already gone home. My oldest son Nathan was a two-month old baby, and I had seen Diana hand him to one of the sweet teenage girls in our church – who wanted to hold him.
I went around the corner and down the hall toward my church office to gather my things, when there was a sudden, horrible crashing sound of broken glass … then people screaming and running toward the area around the corner of the hallway from which I had been only a moment ago.
Before I could also run to see what was happening, someone yelled to me as I was standing in the office doorway near the only phones in the building, to call 911 and get an ambulance – saying that a car had crashed into the church and hit Jane (the girl who I had just seen holding Nathan). Hesitating a second due to that thought, I collected myself and made the call … then going down the hall to the scene.
A car went out of control when pulling up to the door, hitting two of our teen girls exiting the church, shoving them both back through the double glass doors. One of them, however, had her leg pinned against the brick doorframe. Both were quite bloody from the sheets of glass that had fallen on them, and at the scene, things looked very bad for Jane in particular.
The ambulance took her to the hospital, and I spent some moments with her father – one of our best church servants and leaders – helping him gather things and get ready to go to the hospital as well. He was amazingly calm in the storm. As I was a young man then just beginning in ministry, this fellow who was about 12-15 years older had been very kind and encouraging to me personally. And he took several moments even then to reflect upon Scriptural truths that were sustaining him in the crisis, as he did throughout the day at the hospital.
The experience was a rude introduction to “official” ministry. That evening was the occasion of my ordination by the church into the gospel ministry. The theme of the day – both for the family and for the ordination – was that we do not know what a day may bring or what calamity may come into our lives or the lives of others close to us, or in our flock as shepherds. But in any event, we need to be rooted in the Lord and in his Word for the strength and resource to meet the challenge.
(As an additional note – the girl survived with only some minimal permanent damage to her ankle. And the driver of the car was the teenage son of the Senior Pastor of the church. Several years later, in the course of time and human affairs, he married the girl he almost killed!)
(And here is the additional note that I failed to include: the girl held Nathan briefly before handing him back to Diana and then immediately walking out the door. There was some flying glass around them, but the door frame stopped the car.)
In dozens and dozens of situations of church ministry over the intervening years – including even this past week, I have visited with people in the most dire and heart-breaking of situations – at the very scenes of tragedy and death and pain and loss – and seen an unnatural strength that undergirds people of faith and trust.
However, in more than a few other circumstances and situations, I have seen the pain overwhelm people – short-term and long-term – as others are unable to endure and move on from difficulties. Sometimes it results in a sort of depression, others with anger – perhaps even at God for not doing enough. Some others react with a sort of escapism and detachment, disappearing from connection with God and his people in the church family.
What makes the difference? Those with deep roots into God’s Word and interconnection with God’s people find their way through tragedy and pain over time through the strength and nourishment their roots provide. Those who do not make it cleanly to the other side demonstrate that the few roots they had were very shallow and insufficient.
In this series we are asking you to consider your own personal roots, and looking beyond that to how you can help others be rooted and nourished (watered) in the truth.
This week we look at one of the great passages that talk about roots – Psalm 1. We all want success in life, or stated in the words of this week’s title, a “Yield.” But that can only come if we stay rooted, even through the winds and trials of life.
The Psalm begins by talking about the blessed life … “Blessed in the one…” This term is one that speaks of a concept of happiness, related to contentment and peacefulness – a quiet pleasure that comes from deep perspective and satisfaction.
In the past I have preached on this sermon as describing the “truly happy person.” But this week, let us in the theme of this series make the subject of this Psalm be called “the truly rooted person.” We are describing the fruit, the yield, of a rooted life.
We will see these six verses describe the rooted person in four ways …
- In negative terms (1)
- In positive terms (2)
- In pictorial terms (3)
- In contrastive terms (4-6)
The rooted life described in negative terms … verse 1 …
1 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, 2 but whose delight is in the law of the Lord, and who meditates on his law day and night
Let’s break down the first verse with these three categories …
|3 Verbs…||3 Nouns …||3 People …|
|Walk||Counsel (in step)||Wicked|
|Sit||Company (seat)||Mockers (scoffers)|
Verbs … There is an increasing involvement and commitment, from walking in a certain place to sitting down in a specific place.
Nouns … counsel = thinking / way = behaving / seat = belonging (note the progression).
People … wicked = no room for God / sinner = openly break God’s law / scoffer = mocker of God’s word and people.
So there is the progression from interest, to doing, to being fully at home in the fellowship of those who ridicule God.
A drift away from God and truth is not something that happens immediately, but is progressive over time. And a self-examination from time to time is a healthy discipline.
In any event, people who are away from God, be it from drifting or perhaps because they never really were connected, are simply not able to be truly blessed with a contented happiness even in the inevitable sorrows of life.
So, how are your roots? Where are your roots? Like the car commercial from that dealership in Frederick says about the “Fitz-Way” … there’s just no better way to go. That’s true of faith and life; there is no successful way other than being rooted in the Lord.