Replanted: A Reflection on Psalm 1

I know a thing or two about being replanted.

A few years ago I made one of the hardest decisions of my life and followed God into the unknown.

This unknown was Southern Idaho—maybe that doesn’t seem drastic to anyone else, but for me it was huge.

I was leaving Appalachia, and I knew that if I made this move, I’d most likely never call the hills home again. I had spent my entire adult life as an advocate for Appalachia—taking part in social justice issues that sought to protect the mountains from destructive extraction industry practices and empower our people to break the cycles of poverty that had held them at a disadvantage for so long. In college, I took every class I could on Appalachian culture, religion, and history. In seminary, I kept my mind focused on my end goal: to return to my mountains and begin a ministry with my fellow Appalachians. My ministry was firmly rooted in my Appalachian home and identity.

I was leaving Appalachia, and I knew that if I made this move, I’d most likely never call the hills home again. I had spent my entire adult life as an advocate for Appalachia—taking part in social justice issues that sought to protect the mountains from destructive extraction industry practices and empower our people to break the cycles of poverty that had held them at a disadvantage for so long. In college, I took every class I could on Appalachian culture, religion, and history. In seminary, I kept my mind focused on my end goal: to return to my mountains and begin a ministry with my fellow Appalachians. My ministry was firmly rooted in my Appalachian home and identity.

Add to that the fact that my family has lived in those hills for generations, I was leaving my entire extended family. I was leaving my support network. I was leaving everything familiar to me.

So, yeah—maybe it wasn’t as drastic as giving everything away and traveling to some remote place on the other side of the globe, but it was still a big (and at times, scary) move to make.

God was digging me up and replanting me somewhere else.

As I began my study of the Psalms with a Lectio Divina reading of Psalm 1 (I’ll include links at the bottom if you’d like to know more about this ancient prayer practice), my mind and heart kept being drawn to the word “replanted.”

As Christians, we often talk about “sowing seeds” of faith.

When our witness fails to change the life of a person to whom we have been reaching out, we console ourselves with, “Well, the seeds are planted… God will grow them.”

But as I read Psalm 1, I realized that we often miss an important aspect of the “planting seeds” metaphor.

We know that when we plant seeds of faith, we are serving as God’s laborers in the building of the kingdom. And, we know that God alone will harvest what grows. Yet, we overlook all the work that God is doing in the in-between of planting and harvesting.

Sometimes, a seed may begin to sprout, but cannot flourish where it is at, so it needs to be transplanted.

As a child, I used to watch my grandmother (a masterful gardener, especially of flowers) raising her seeds and preparing them for her flower beds. She’d begin them in tiny little trays in her house, and as they grew, they’d get transplanted and moved to places where they would receive what they needed to continue growing. Ultimately, they would end up in her flower beds and planters, and her house would be an explosion of flowers.

It meant she had to pay special attention to each plants in the in-between of placing the seed in the first handful of soil and moving it, roots and all, into its final home. Every day she’d lovingly mix nutrients into water and “feed” her plants. She’d move them to places where they’d get sun, and then move them out of the sun when it became too much for their new lives to endure. She’d inspect leaves, pluck away dead things, and treat each sprout with love.
Replanting, as any gardener knows, is an important part of the growing process.

So, what was the Psalmist on about when he talked about people who listen to God’s instruction being “like a tree replanted by streams of water”?

For me, I had grown in faith tremendously from the time I first began my life in the faith (as a literal baby in my mother’s arms). I had grown, and the “replantings” had not seemed so drastic:

  • When I was in third grade, my parents made the decision to move the family to a church that was more in line with their theology—but it was in the same town, and we already knew some of the members, so the replanting wasn’t drastic. But it fed my soul, because the style of worship and spirituality at our new church helped me come closer to God.
  • When I reached adolescence, I was moved from the children’s program into the youth program, a replanting that allowed me to begin diving deeper into why my faith needed to be my personal choice, and not something I did just because my parents called the shots.
  • College and adulthood moved me into new directions… and for awhile, the place I chose to replant myself wasn’t the best and I drifted away from God. But when I finally let God show me where I should put down roots, I began growing again.

Being replanting to Idaho was the most drastic I had ever undergone.

I was going from the lush green deciduous forests of Appalachia to the arid high desert and I had no clue if I’d find a place for my roots to take.

All I could do was follow God’s instruction—to adhere to my ordination vows and serve with love in the place I had been replanted.

I found that God had brought me to a place of tremendous healing, a place where I felt I could flourish.

In spite of the high desert climate, there are ice-cold rivers that run from the Rockies through these arid lands, cutting canyons through rocks as old as time, and giving life to everything it touches.

God had literally replanted me by a river that sustains me… but God had also metaphorically replanted me by some life-giving waters.

In the four years I’ve been here, I’ve felt myself grow and bloom in new ways. I’ve become more confident in my faith, more self-aware, more confident.

Being replanted can be scary stuff—but when we lean on God’s word, we find new life wherever God takes us.

And when we find ourselves ceasing to grow, it might be time to let God do the replanting.

Lectio Divina Resources

Wikipedia (An overview of the history and use of Lectio Divina in Christian worship)

How To Use Lectio Divina

How It Helps Prayer Life

The Steps of Lectio Divina

2 thoughts on “Replanted: A Reflection on Psalm 1

Add yours

  1. Idaho, huh? I visited there as a child when my paternal grandmother lived in Buhl. Never had a burning desire to move there. Lots of Californians, though, are moving to Idaho. Maybe you’ve run into other transplants, like yourself.

    1. Absolutely! There is another Methodist minister and a Presbyterian minister who are WV transplants… and my first Sunday at this church I met a parishioner who grew up in the same valley I did! God brings us together. ❤

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