Be strong and courageous.
Do not be afraid;
do not be discouraged,
for the Lord your God will be with you
wherever you go.”
Take two steps forward. Turn to your left and take four steps. Turn to your right and jump ahead three times on one foot. Take a seat on the floor and note your location. Is it the same or different than someone else playing along? Differences doesn’t necessarily imply a failure to follow directions, especially as you may not have started in the same place or even facing the same direction. In fact, taking the exact same path as a friend may have required unnecessary steps and turns, uncomfortably long or short strides and jumps. The journey would have been different for both of you with the focus being on the other person rather than listening to the person providing directions.
Psalm 1 is a wisdom Psalm that provides instructions for a journey with God. It describes the life that follows God only versus the commands of society is like a tree planted by streams of water. It stands strong, supported at its roots and producing its fruit. This tree spends it day meditating on the word of God, drinking it in through roots deep in strong ground kept fertile by the nearby stream. It appears unaware of the wind whipping around the tree trunk and limbs or the other competing entities tugging at the leaves and fruit.
It’s hard to ignore the voices whipping around us, whispering in our ears that we aren’t enough or that we should be exactly like everyone around us. Sadly, this is often how the Church operates, constantly comparing itself to the secular world. It looks there for acceptance and guidance and this is a kind of messed up. We have forgotten the fertile ground in which we have been planted, we have become so concerned and consumed by growth, or lack thereof that we have forgotten the strength of our roots. Psalm 1 wisely reminds us to stop looking at our neighbors but instead look to the God who planted us, holds us, feeds us and is watching over us.