The Utah desert was exactly what I expected. When my friend Sue and I toured the National Parks of Utah a year and a half ago, we spent several days seeing nothing but rocks, dirt, an occasional cactus, and a few shrubs. Of course many of those rocks were spectacular natural formations, but having lived my whole life in the Northeast, I couldn’t wrap my brain around the barrenness of this area – it seemed to go on forever!
After spending a day in Canyonlands National Park, we set our GPS for the town of Fruita in Capitol Reef National Park. You may wonder, as I did, why in the world there’s a town in the middle of the desert called “Fruita”. Fruit, of course, grows on trees and we had not seen a tree for days!
As we entered the town, though, we were surprised to not only find trees, but entire orchards of trees! Now owned by the National Park Service, Fruita was once the home of settlers looking to take advantage of this remote area’s plentiful source of water – the Fremont River. Thousands of trees were planted along the river’s banks, resulting in harvests of multiple varieties of apples, apricots, peaches, pears, and plums (hence the name!)*
Blessed is the man
who walks not in the counsel of the wicked,
nor stands in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the seat of scoffers;
but his delight is in the law of the LORD,
and on his law he meditates day and night.
He 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.
It’s no surprise that the opening chapter of the Psalms, a book that speaks volumes to the importance of God’s words in our relationship with Him, begins with this metaphor. Attempting to do life without delighting in and meditating on the words God has spoken will surely lead to withering and lack of fruit!
But I don’t think it’s a coincidence that all three of the statements in verse one, describing what a “fruitful” person does not do, all speak to the company we surround ourselves with. Who we’re “walking” with and where we’re getting our “counsel” from matters.
The water flowing through Fruita in the Fremont River doesn’t just appear – it has a source. Its stream begins about 50 miles away at a reservoir and builds in volume as it collects snowmelt from the nearby mountains along its course.**
Though as a follower of Jesus I have a responsibility to read and absorb God’s words from the Bible, I also have the opportunity to plant myself near other believers who’ve climbed a little further up the mountain than I have. A mentor’s words are “deep waters” flowing from a lifetime (or at least a life longer than mine) of applying God’s word and a friend who holds you accountable is like a “bubbling brook” irrigating your life (Proverbs 18:4)
A few weeks ago, during my Bible study time, I sensed the Holy Spirit’s conviction about an area of my life. The conviction was clear, but how to put it into words and real-life action was not. As I explained it to my mentor, she was able to speak from her experience and help me figure that out. A few days later, a wise friend pointed me to the voice of an expert who brought even further clarity. And then another wise friend confirmed my next steps.
The “deep waters” of wisdom in Proverbs 18 are meant to be sought after and intentionally surrounding myself with wise women is one of the best decisions I’ve ever made. God’s word is a river of wisdom, and by giving us each other He’s given us access to many fruit-nourishing streams!