“The Fruitful Tree”

No tree however deep the roots,
However high and green the shoots,
However strong the trunk has stood,
Or firm the fibers of the wood,
No tree was ever meant to be
A never-ending shade for me
Or you. Save one: where Jesus died
With bleeding branches spread as wide
And far as faith for sinful men.

But there was shade, especially when
The tree was old: the leaves were thick
With life, and though the root was sick,
The bark deep-creased with age, the limbs
Were laden down with love, and hymns
Were heard beneath when wind bestirred
The bowing branches with the Word
Of heaven. O there were years of shade!

And more: there was the fruit he made,
Or better, bore, when all the ground
Seemed dry, we turned again and found
The branches heavy with some rare
Well-watered food and sweet called Care.

There must have been a river there
Beneath the arid earth somewhere
Deep-flowing up around the tips
Of dying roots, and giving sips
Of everlasting life for him
To share with us while every limb
Gave up its own. O, there was fruit!
Life-giving from the dying root.

And more. Much more. There was the wood
And it was strong. It had withstood
A thousand storms, and everyone
More firm. And now for every son,
Grandchild and every daughter here
He lies a fallen tree and dear,
And leaves in you the solid wood
And bids you stand where he has stood
Beside the river of the Word,
And that you keep what you have heard,
And sing with him in one accord:
“My fruitful house will serve the Lord.”

by John Piper
In Memory of Dr. George Henry (Noël’s Father)
Reflections on Psalm 1 and Joshua 24:15

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