Sometimes You Just Need to Breathe

It was one of my favorite trees. And it was dying.

We live on a lake, and my dying tree was truly a “tree planted by streams of water.” So how could it be dying? How could branches right in the smack dab middle of the bushy green be turning into kindling? It didn’t make sense.

I called an arborist to come out and take a look. He saw the problem right away.

“Ma’am, see how that tree looks like a telephone pole stuck in the ground? That’s not the way a tree should be planted. You should be able to see some of the roots spreading out from the trunk. Those roots are covered up with dirt, grass, and these pretty perennials you’ve planted at the base. The tree can’t breathe.”

“It can’t breathe?” I asked.

“Yep. You see a tree is a living organism that needs to breathe just like you do. If the roots are smothered, then it can’t. Trees need sunlight, water, carbon dioxide and nutrients from the soil. Those flowers you have planted around it are actually stealing the nutrients. The dirt covering the roots is suffocating it. It has water, but it needs more than that.

“Bottom line, your tree is stressed out.”

Ah, words I understood. “Stressed out.”

So, the arborist cleared away some of the dirt from around the roots to allow the tree to breathe and cut away the dead limbs. Then he dug up the flowers and tossed them aside. I could almost hear the tree take a deep breath as if to say, “Ah, thank you!”

Three months later, it looks like the tree is going to make it after all.

All this thinking about my tree planted by the water made me think about my schedule…my life. And of course, that led me to your schedule…your life.

I like to think of myself as a tree planted by the water similar to the one mentioned in the first psalm. I get up every morning and soak in God’s Word before jumping into my day. That’s my water. My living water.

But it’s not enough to drink in the morning and then smother my day with too many activities, commitments, and deadlines. I need more than water to thrive. I need to be able to breathe.

I can plant “beautiful” activities in my life like those flowers, but they may be sucking the nutrients right out of my soul. Those activities might look nice on my calendar, but they might not be soul nice. I can smother my roots with commitments and pile on the soil so that I look more like a non-living thing stuck in the ground—a telephone pole—rather than a fruit-bearing tree.

So as I begin this fall season with its activities left and right, I need to stop and examine if they are exactly what God wants me to do, or if they are just “pretty flowers ” that are keeping me from being that tree that yields fruit in due season.

As I think about my fall schedule with its commitments and deadlines, I need to ask myself if I am covering up the roots of my heart—smothering it from the very air I need to breathe.

And that’s what I want you to consider today. Let’s do more than survive. Let’s thrive! Clear away what needs to be cleared away. Toss out what needs to be tossed (even if it looks pretty on your schedule). Make room to breathe.

Lord, I want to be a tree planted by streams of living water that bears fruit in its season. As I move into the fall season, open my eyes to unnecessary activities and commitments, and help me to know when to say “no”. Show me what I need to dig up and toss. Help me to do what I need to do to avoid stressing out my roots and suffocating my soul. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

10 Responses to Sometimes You Just Need to Breathe

  1. Christina Korns September 25, 2018 at 5:29 am #

    Sometimes I feel like I want to drop everything and escape for a walk in re woods. Be in nature and soak up Gods paint brushing expertise in the fall season. Yet there are house hold chores, children and what feels like such a lack of time and I have yet to do it. Even though I’ve been craving a hike for 2 weeks! I know I need to follow my heart and feed my soul, sometimes it starts to feel overwhelming, if I go for a hike nothing will get done, if I don’t go, I won’t get the restoration I’m so hungry for. My constant battle……..

  2. Stephanie Rice September 25, 2018 at 6:40 am #

    I needed this so bad today. I am drowning at my work place with so much obligation that I can’t walk away from right now. My husband has a form of MS and is on disability so I am the main form of money at our house.
    We also have been at a church I am doing the music directing and playing the piano. Choosing the right songs for Sunday stresses me because I want it to be perfect for the Lord. Then I have to make sure everyone has the music for their instrument and that they know it. I now have diverticulitis and need a rest but just can’t seem to find the time.
    I am so exhausted after working that I can’t even read more than a few verses. I long for quiet time in the Lord.
    Please pray for me to make myself stop and breathe!
    May God continue to use you daily and I am so thankful for your devotions.

  3. Dianne Miley September 25, 2018 at 8:04 am #

    Great analogy, Sharon! So, so good. Love it! 💕

  4. Esther enriquez September 25, 2018 at 11:24 am #

    How do you bring an 18 yr old granddaughter out of her old ways of street living for the past 4 yrs and that gang style living? Her 15 month old son will be here with us soon. I am trying to breathe and get her on the right path to God and to being the mom God and I pray fervently for. How

    • Rondolyn October 1, 2018 at 10:24 am #

      The Lord be with you and your prodigal….I am a single mom and have fought hard …lots of prayer and making lots if jewelry a d drive for uber as well as door dash to get myself a d my 3 children out of motels only to look back and see my little boy,turns 13 in Oct. Sitting hus 3d time in juvinile hall as we speak for that way of life too. I remind him jf Gods presence a d love . I tell him the truth and pray .I was just in prayer and read this afterwards. Timely cor my prayer. I will pray for you and your prodigal….we fight FROM VICTORY…..NOT FOR IT. GOD HAS WON THE WAR A D THIS BATTLE BELONGS TO THE LORD.
      Read joshua1. God bless you!!!

    • Rosemary Cerecedes October 2, 2018 at 2:46 pm #

      Dear Esther,

      I am sure you have tried talking to her to no avail. I believe this is the time to completely surrender her to her Heavenly Father who tenderly loves and cares for her and wants the best for her! Once we surrender someone to God we need to leave them in God’s hands and not try to help God unless He leads us to say something or do something for our loved one. We need to trust Him thru the process. It helps to thank Him for taking care of your granddaughter when you find yourself worrying about her.
      God will honor your trust in Him and will bless you and encourage you in His time.
      Mrs. Rosemary Cerecedes,
      Grandmother of 14 grandchildren
      P.S. I give all my 6 children and grandchildren to the Heavenly Father every morning to take care of them and for Him to build a Shield of Protection around them. I also pray for their friends who have influence on them. I am at Peace knowing that they are in good hands. When I am particularly worried about one or the other, it also helps me to find Peace when I ask someone (one or more) who is close to God to pray for my prayer intention. This always helps me trust God especially when this process takes longer than I wish.

  5. Mia September 25, 2018 at 1:48 pm #

    Dear Sister, thank you for this “word in season”. Today I have been battling the feeling that I’m “going under”, and the words God gave you to share just have been like an encouraging hand reaching out to pull me up. God is God, and we are truly His hands and feet for one another. Thanks for being His hand for me today. ❤️

  6. Mandy September 25, 2018 at 4:37 pm #

    Breathe.

    This was the first lesson learned when I became chronic ill. All the good stuff that was suffocating my life.

    It’s still s challenge to keep life simple. But it’s the thing to keep going back to when pain takes over.

  7. Rhonda September 26, 2018 at 1:14 pm #

    Awww, Sharon, what a beautiful devotional…and reminder. I needed this. We are selling a home in one city, moving furniture & fixtures from a cafe we just closed down in another city, and moving to yet another city! I can barely breathe! I ask God every day to be my strength and help me. Once we “settle down,” I feel like I can thrive in our new city and our new church.

    THANK YOU, Sharon, for the beautiful picture of a tree planted by the water. We ARE like trees…ever weathering the storms and yet still standing. Praying God’s blessings on you!

  8. Faye October 1, 2018 at 11:19 am #

    Thank you so very much. I am single and l have everything to do alone. All the house cleaning and my 1.3 acre lawn. Plus l work 3 or 4 12hr night shifts a week and have to get some sleep. I find even though lm off work that l still don’t sleep at night very much. It’s usually early morning before l sleep then over half my day is gone when l awake. I feel so overwhelmed. I take time for my grandchildren and my dad who is 82. I just dont take very much time for me. I teally need to fit me in there somewhere.

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