November 15, 2012

Sustaining Faith

Psalm 1

That person is like a tree planted by streams of water…
—Psalm 1:3


God often grows our faith amid crises. Through the crises of life he can help us see his direction through the fog. As we grow in directional faith, we begin to discover how abundantly God wants to bless us. Eventually we begin to suspect that we often ask not too much of God, but too little.

Psalm 1 demonstrates this idea using the image of a tree flourishing by streams of water.

Where I grew up, rain was a common occurrence. While it wouldn’t rain every day, we generally had enough water around to keep things green. When I moved to northern California, I learned there was usually no rain for about nine months of the year. Once the winter rains stopped, any vacant lots quickly turned brown and stayed that way for months.

Yet there were many places in the community that were vibrant and green, with tall shade trees and lush lawns. The secret: those places had an underground water supply. Many trees, for example, grew naturally along rivers where they could siphon water directly from a stream. And in more recent years, underground sprinkling systems made landscaping possible. (It’s the only way I had a green yard.)

Psalm 1 assures us God wants to sustain us in a way like that, if we will only let him. We can call this sustaining faith, and it’s here that we really begin to see God’s hand in our lives.

God, guide us to the nourishment we need from you. Sat-isfy us with what you know we need. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

About the author — Ron Vanderwell

Ron Vanderwell recently became the senior pastor of New Life Church in New Lenox, Illinois. He has been a pastor for 22 years, serving as a church planter for the previous 12 years at The Gathering in Sacramento, California, and before that as a pastor in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Ron and his wife, Deb, have three sons: John, Adam, and Jake. Ron shares more of his reflections on “squinting” for God in his blog at

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