Last fall I preached from the book of Jeremiah. Jeremiah begins with the Lord calling him into ministry, but Jeremiah is skeptical of his own abilities and unsure that the Lord will continue with him. Just in that moment, the Lord asks Jeremiah what he sees. Jeremiah is looking at an almond tree (a shoqed in Hebrew). The Lord tells Jeremiah that he sees well, and that in just the same way Jeremiah sees the almond tree, the Lord himself is watching (shaqed in Hebrew) over Jeremiah. It’s a sweet, kind, and personal moment. From that day on, Jeremiah would never look at a shaqed (almond tree) without thinking that the Lord was shoqed (watching) him.
Last year, a family in the congregation I pastor, planted an almond tree just outside the sanctuary window. This spring its buds are set to flower, and I can’t help but be encouraged that the Lord is watching and keeping his promises just as he said. I hope you’re encouraged too.
I wrote a poem about the interaction between Jeremiah and the Lord and was inspired by Eugene Peterson’s translation of the encounter in The Message which you may read HERE. Peterson makes use of the pun “stick” as in a branch of an almond tree and “stick” as in, I’m sticking with you. I really like that.
You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.
I loved you before I made you in love
In the hidden place of your begetting;
Your mission in life comes from above,
As a watchman you’ll speak, my word spreading.
“Ah, but Lord God, don’t you know, can’t you see?
I am but a youth; I cannot speak.
No one will heed or listen to me;
I don’t know how; I’m not strong; I’m weak.”
Do not say, “Ah!” Do you hear?
Into your mouth I put my word of power;
You shall say what I say. Speak! Do not fear;
Though they beat, you’ll stand, be my strong tower.
“But how will I know that you are with me?”
I thought to myself as I walked along.
Jeremiah, tell me. What do you see?
I replied, “I see a stick of almond.”
You see well, son! I’ll be sticking all ‘round —
Watch you work, watch my word for years to come.
You watch each spring when this stick of almond
Reminds with its blooms the sticking I’ve done.
Remember this stick. With you, I’m sticking ‘round
Whether you work to plant, pull up, or tear down.
© Randall Edwards 2020