Summary: This message is a contrast been a person who lives life for himself without any thought of God and his ways to the one who is guided by the Holy Spirit to remain connecte to the True Vine, Jesus. That person is fruitful and productive throughout his life
A Tumbleweed on the Prairie
“Cursed is the strong one who depends on mere humans, who thinks he can make it on muscle alone and set God aside as dead weight. He’s like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows.
But blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden putting down roots near the river—never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf. Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fruit in every season.
The heart is hopelessly dark and deceitful, a puzzle that no one can figure out. But I, God, searches the heart and examines the mind.”
A tumbleweed is a symbol of the American West and the cowboys who represented a footloose and fancy free lifestyle. A little bit lanky and a little bit ugly—a footloose rambler. Sometimes ghost towns would have tumbleweeds rolling down the middle of the street, a symbol depicting loneliness. Tumbleweeds came to the forefront by a cowboy song written in 1932 by Bob Nolan of the Sons of the Pioneers. Tumbling Tumbleweeds speaks of drifting along, lonely but free.
Scripture talks about tumbleweeds. The Message Bible says the man who “depends on mere humans who thinks he can make it on muscle alone, and sets God aside as dead weight, he is like a tumbleweed on the prairie, out of touch with the good earth. He lives rootless and aimless in a land where nothing grows” (Jeremiah 17:5).
The tumbleweed starts to grow but then disconnects from the roots and is driven by the wind nowhere in particular. It can be as small as a soccer ball or as big as a VW Beatle. Once it breaks away, it disperses seed all over the place to the ranchers’ dismay. Tumbleweeds hitchhiked a ride from Mongolia with a shipment of grain and is not a native plant here. Tumbleweeds were first reported in South Dakota in 1877 in Bon Homme County, South Dakota transported in flax seed; and within two decades the plant had tumbled to dozens of states, and by 1900 had reached the Pacific Coast (internet, author unknown).
The tumbleweed give the idea of barrenness. A person can be similar to a tumbleweed being unproductive in his life that is blowing along aimlessly in his own efforts from one thing to another. Living with rootless selfish ambitions from day to day is barren and unproductive. Not depending upon God for insight and direction, the person does not see opportunities when opportunities arise. Another version says he will not see prosperity when it comes. Opportunities may slip through a person’s fingers even if it is in plain sight.
The world lives bouncing along from one thing to another but is rootless and cannot grow in the wisdom and knowledge that God gives. It is not acquired through self-effort. James says, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask God that gives to all men liberally and upbraideth not and it shall be given him.” (James 1:5).
We are instructed to “study to show ourselves a workman that needeth not to be ashamed rightly dividing the word of truth” (II Timothy 2:15).
In another place Jesus told his disciples to “take my yoke upon you and learn of me…” (Matthew 11:29).
Jesus never meant for us to be rootless and barren for he told his disciples, “abide in me and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me” (John 15:4).
The Contemporary English version says, “Stay joined to me.” Don’t disconnect yourself from me or you will be barren and unable to grow and produce fruit.
Too often we are not blessed because we have gone our own way and disconnected ourselves from our source. “All we like sheep have gone astray each one has turned to his own way “(Isaiah 53:6). There are many things that get us off track and we focus on something else. We disconnect ourselves from the true vine. Jesus said, “I am the true vine” (John 15:1).
It is time to get back on track. Sometimes we think we have tumbled too far and can’t get to where we should be. That’s no problem even though we think we have gone too far astray. Scripture says that this is the job for the Holy Spirit to “guide you into all truth” (John 16:13).
Lamentation 3:40 prods us to get back on track. “Let us examine and probe our ways, and let us return to the Lord.”
Scripture does not leave us as a fruitless tumbleweed without hope beyond the dry desert heat and scorching sun. One word turns all that around, “but blessed is the man who trusts me, God, the woman who sticks with God. They’re like trees replanted in Eden putting down roots near the river—never a worry through the hottest of summers, never dropping a leaf. Serene and calm through droughts, bearing fruit in every season. A tree that has been transplanted in a prime location gives us the picture of a place where there is good soil by the river and plenty of water to keep the leaves from withering and drying up. The leaves on every branch are connected to strong roots that go down deep into the soil. The storms don’t uproot a tree like this because it is not just sitting on the surface ready to blow over when the rain comes or dry out when the heat beats down. When conditions are ideal, the trees will bear fruit when it is time to produce and there will be an abundant harvest. A person who is abiding in Christ will be like this tree, not barely surviving but flourishing. He will have what he needs in due season—blessed.