“She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed.”
Have you ever met a woman that was so rooted in Christ that you couldn’t help but be around her? I have. She is the one who helped lead me towards Christ in the first place. I came to college an unbeliever. And when I say unbeliever, I mean that I had been living my life with very anti-Christian values… and I was okay with that! Or so I thought. I was a party girl in high school. Very cliche… I’ll leave the rest up to your imagination. Once I got to college, I knew it wasn’t the way I wanted to live. My freshman year was spent in Northern California. Hiking, San Francisco, best friends, sunshine… what more could you want? I did not party as much as I used to, and knew that something was missing. Realizing that the one thing most people seemed to have that I didn’t was a sense of religion, I began searching for one! Being the California hippie that I was at the time, I read a lot about Buddhism. Nothing really stuck with me. I transferred back to Virginia to go to school for my sophomore year. At orientation, I met a woman. Just a few days after moving to this school, I spent almost every night sleeping at her and her two year old boy’s house. One night, she asked me about my faith, and I told her that I didn’t really have one. For the next 8 hours or so, we talked about Jesus and she answered all of the questions I had. When I heard her pray to Jesus like He was a friend, I knew that there was no other explanation.
She became my best friend and my first sister in Christ. Her faith is so grounded that I was able to draw from her stream (so to speak) and grow in my faith. We each went through many trials that year, but the Lord had turned my life upside-down and gave us each the strength to come out as better people than we were before. When reading Proverbs 3:18, I am not only reminded of her grace and strength, but am inspired to one day be so rooted in my faith that others will be able to take hold of me. “Tree of life” is such a beautiful way of describing such a person. When I think of this image, there is sunshine beaming down on a big oak tree and the leaves are dancing in breeze… but the trunk is strong and grounded with deep roots. My heart is reminded of Psalm 1:3 “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.” In my opinion, each of these verses describes a person that everyone should aspire to be.
Proverbs 3:7 “Do not be wise in your own eyes; fear the Lord and shun evil.”
We can be comforted by the fact that the light of Christ is bright enough that in His name, we can rebuke the evil one. The dictionary says that ‘shun’ means to “persistently avoid, ignore, or reject”. We know, by reading verse 7, that this is what we are called to do when it comes to the evil in the world. I don’t think that the bible is referring only to the physical being of evil, but to the things in this fallen world that we have begun to think of as “normal“. Gossiping about a coworker, cheating our way through school to gain a title of “smart” or “achieved“… even things such as relying on yourself instead of the Lord. I don’t think that simply being aware of and agreeing with this is are enough. I mean, how many of us have heard this a hundred times, but fail to shun evil on a daily basis? We need to remind ourselves of this verse every day so that it is engrained into our daily lives. This can mean putting a sticky note on your mirror, writing the verse in your day planner, or having a friend to keep you accountable. It is fitting that the dictionary uses the word “persistent” — evil will not go away if you simply reject it once. There are so many opportunities for evil to creep into our lives that we need to consciously and persistently reject it. Sometimes I find myself thinking that in certain situations, is it just easier to sin. And sometimes, it is! But does God call us to go through life and do whatever feels easiest? Actually, quite the opposite! It is my experience that most things that God calls me to do are HARD. If He wanted us to do whatever we wanted, He wouldn’t be an active and good part of our life. There would be no need for Him, because we would do everything on our own. If we base all of our decisions on what is easier or what WE want to do, we are basically telling God that we don’t need him.
No matter how many times I dive into scripture, I am always amazed at how much I learn. In verse 7, it says to not be wise in your own eyes. Just this morning, I picked up my bible and started reading Proverbs 3… without praying first (as I personally think is necessary before studying scripture). I was trying to figure out what I wanted to write about in my blog. After only a few minutes, my thoughts were jumbled and I was writing things down that didn’t even match up to God’s character! I had let pride seep into the most God-centered hours of my day. I immediately prayed and told God that I felt silly because my intentions truly were to learn more about Him, post it on my blog, and hopefully hear some feedback and thoughts from others on the topic! It’s astonishing to me how quickly we can go from good intentions to sinful behavior… simply by not consciously shunning the evil that tries (oh so hard!) to come into our lives. In my opinion, if we are to truly live the lives that our Father would be proud of, we need to pray to God daily to help us reject the evil, and remind ourselves persistently so that we may be conscious of our heart and actions.