And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.
(Psalm 1:3 KJV)
Grab a pen and paper. If you could have anything right now to make yourself happier, what would it be? List everything down that comes to mind.
What’s in your heart?
A few months ago before college graduation, I did this. It was the middle of spring semester, and it wasn’t the easiest senior spring. Some of my friends had one or two classes, and I had a full course load. Other friends had job offers since October, and I had no options in sight. I knew exactly what I needed to be happier: to graduate on the Dean’s List, a full-time offer for my dream job, etc. Basically, I would have LOVED a detailed road map of my future.
I didn’t get it, though. Instead I had to wait and take one day at a time. Ultimately, I wanted to be happy. I was totally content, but I wanted to know that when I walked across that stage in May, I would be taken care of.
Months later, I can tell you that God did give me the desires of my heart. I graduated summa cum laude, I got my dream opportunity. I can also tell you this doesn’t make me happy at the end of the day. The road to these things was unimaginable. But what makes me happy was that I chose to honor God when I didn’t understand.
Psalm 1 begins: “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful” (v. 1). Blessings begin with obedience. You will be set apart. Following God means you are going to have to stand alone many times. You will have to forgo relationships and old lifestyles that are leading you away from the cross. Oftentimes, with the flesh passing away, dreams will die.
However, there’s a promise at the end of obedience. The Psalm continues: “But his delight is in the law of the Lord; and in his law doth he meditate day and night” (v. 2). Before anything else, we’re promised God’s presence. Delight is waiting at the other side of your obedience. And guess what? This delight has nothing to do with any new people or things that come into your life, but it has everything to do with the Lord. When you empty yourself of ungodly things, you have to fill yourself with God, or else you’ll find yourself being filled with something else. Spend time with God day and night, meditate on Him. Obey Him, and you’ll find you can exhale and say, “Thank You, Lord. I have You, and that’s all I ever needed.”
And finally, verse 3 shows the fruit of this obedience: “And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” You won’t be shaken. You plant yourself in the Lord, and you cannot be uprooted! Plant yourself in a relationship, and you will wither quickly when it fails. Plant yourself in your career, and you will wither when it cannot quench your thirst.
When you are touched by God, there’s no turning back. You have the victory in Him! Why are you searching for other things? It’s not going to work!
I took this to heart months ago. I learned it after failing so many times. I rooted myself in God’s Word, prayed, and fasted when I had no idea what was going to happen next. It was hard, and it wasn’t perfect, but God started outpouring Himself to me like never before. And let me tell you, His outpour wasn’t physical blessings but spiritual. It was His presence. It was falling in love with my Savior all over again. It was seeing situations pass away but feeling so joyful that I just had God!
And eventually, when I least expected it, I was walking across the stage and handed my diploma. I got my degree, and a week later, I got not one job but two, pointing me in the direction I wanted to go.
What makes me a happy grad? It’s not the fact that I’ve received these things–it’s that I made the decision months before to prioritize my relationship with Christ. I wanted to understand what it meant to really be planted by God, and I made the decisions and sacrifices to get it.
Happiness doesn’t just come to you. You’ll miss it if you look for it. But joy is a choice. If you choose God, you’ll find victory wherever your feet land. God doesn’t waste any experience or any pain. He will bring forth the most beautiful fruit in your life when you choose to be planted and watered by Him.
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord,
And whose hope is the Lord.
For he shall be like a tree planted by the waters,
Which spreads out its roots by the river,
And will not fear when heat comes;
But its leaf will be green,
And will not be anxious in the year of drought,
Nor will cease from yielding fruit.
(Jeremiah 17:7-8 NKJV)