Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful; but his delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law he meditates day and night. He shall be like a tree planted by rivers of water, that bring forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he does shall prosper.
And the LORD will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water whose waters do not fail.
Weeks ago I started to write about five essential principles every student needs to comprehend and embrace in the journey of education. When it came to writing about number five, I got stuck! Not only had my list expanded beyond five, the revelation came to me that I had structured these principles completely wrong by failing to tie them together somehow. So today, I will go back to the start and begin with the uniting ideal that holds up all these principles.
The principles themselves are really the essential character qualities that must be forged in each child as they are educated and trained up – character that each individual is responsible to develop. Virtuous character however does not just form by happenstance but must instead be intentionally rooted in and define by something. For Christians, that something is the “fountain of living waters” – the life that flows out of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. Our children are like trees and they must grow healthy root structures that are anchored to these “rivers of water.” Otherwise, they will not be able to withstand storms that will come their way. Instead they are likely to be toppled over and their root structures yanked from their foundation negating the growth of fruit in their lives.
Basic water is essential to all forms of life. Clean drinking water is vital to our health and its availability is a growing concern in our country. Just this month vandals blocked up an Austin sewage line causing thousands of gallons of sewage to spill into the Edwards Aquifer the source of water to many wells. I find it personally alarming that our drinking water supplies are now tainted with tiny amounts of pharmaceuticals — including antibiotics, hormones and mood stabilizers. But there is a source of spiritual water that cannot be contaminated – “a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb.” (Revelations 22:1) This is the water our children need to be tethered to with strong character roots that have sunk deep. Otherwise they will develop shallow roots that grow both inward and outward and they will find themselves drinking surface polluted water instead.
We are raising kids today in a culture where many young people are thirsty and dying. Their character roots are insufficiently developed and detached from the “pure river of water of life”. Clogged instead with self absorption and entitled ideals, these roots fail to develop strength that comes by way of hard work and sustained effort. With no deep purpose to grow towards, these kids become dissatisfied and thirsty, drinking without discernment from any water source offered to them. Believing that courage and confidence comes from an existence about ME, they wind up full of fear at every turn. With lazy distracted habits in place, they grow anxious and unable to cope with life’s pressures. They are adrift in a shallow culture that works overtime to keep them so.
As parents and educators we are the keepers of our orchards. We need clarity and true wisdom to be our guides as we nurture and tend to our developing “trees”. Our personal lives as well as our efforts to train students must also be tethered to the “springs of the water of life” in order to lead our kids. Our aim must be to see our children are planted by the rivers of water and thereby nourished by truth.
The essential principles we have been discussing for weeks are the character roots that need to be grown and developed to reach this aim. Over the summer I plan to address two significant root systems: courageous character and pure hearts. I hope that you can join me for these discussions.
Jeremiah 2: 13
For my people have committed two evils: They have forsaken Me, the fountain of living waters, and hewn themselves cisterns – broken cisterns that can hold no water.
And he said to me, “It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment.
IF anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.