It always went like this:
“Tell Mr. Jackson I said Hello.”
“Red, Kisha said hello, Mr. Jackson.” And I’d hear in the background, “Passa.”
If you knew how I recoiled from that one word, that one little dig. Listen. I knew he was being funny and fun—tongue-in-cheek, literarily speaking…and also. He was quietly insistent. Like, all jokes aside, I said what I said clear about his decision to not address me any other way than this. Sort of like how I did not feel comfortable addressing him as Red. It was always Mr. Jackson or “How is your husband?” The formalness of it just felt like the appropriate thing to do. To say what I saw. And I guess maybe he did the same?
Or maybe, in the loss of another integral (if freshly granted) constant in my life, I’m reading too much into it. Who knows, but God?
Except to say that over time, I have found myself learning to lean into another way of being. I stopped recoiling and started examining myself. It’s no good to love gifts and not love the giver, so I found myself pondering the other half of a beautifully neat union that the Lord allowed me to access when my own union looked like a shoe that floated down the Mississippi, recognizable but barely. What kind of soul was this, who was so kind and so quietly shared his wife with the world at large? Who mans was this, who never blinked loudly at me when his wife and I would be on the phone for literal hours at a time days on end for months now? I’ve never lived there—never even visited yet (I was on my way for my birthday cuz FRANNNSSS)—yet I could always tell the joy that he evoked from everyone. He was what I imagined “when I walk through” was meant to be: a vibe. The head deacon of the church I never plan on opening shifted the atmosphere with his presence. A Kingdom mindset without all the lingo and baggage, and that is where we at.
So now that I’ve processed an unusual grief, this is where we at.
Faith of God—faith in God is like unto a tree planted by a good clean river that runs pure—living water. The roots run deep, connected to sources of nourishment beyond what the eye can see. The blooms come and go, as the seasons change; life plants itself in its branches and bark. Other plants become drawn to the flourishing spaces of that tree, never realizing that it isn’t the tree but what the tree pulls from that makes that tree so appealing, so healthy and sturdy. No one noticed the times the tree fought off disease or damage by the wind, the branches lost to storm and rain. No one saw the times the trees roots weren’t as deep as they could get and the tree tilted a bit to adjust for the weight. No one recognized the moments when creeping vines and invasive insects attempted to usurp its very core. All that is known is that this tree is planted by rivers of living water, bringing forth fruit in its season. And. Even when the visible portions of the tree decay, go back down into the earth in its season? The thing about a good tree—a tree that has been planted by the rivers of water is that the fruit remains.
Here is the meaning of the parable.
We are meant to be the tree: the beginning of Psalm 1 goes like this:
“Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is in the law of the LORD; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”
Psalm 1:1-3 KJV
- To be blessed—the blessing follows obedience, and obedience often times doesn’t follow the status quo. When we read about the ungodly, scornful, the sinner, we immediately visualize the worst of the worst, not recognizing nor remembering the times when we’ve been all three. You don’t have to be a criminal or atheist to be scornful or ungodly—you just have to be disobedient or mock someone who has decided to be. As is written, disobedience is as witchcraft, and to disobey is to deny that God exists; that makes you a fool (1 Samuel 14:23; Psalm 14:1).
- To be planted—that is, to have faith in God and operate within the God faith (mature faith) means you have chosen Christ: which is wisdom, protection, fewer words, more action, peace and joy that is contagious. Like a good tree, the Christ in you draws people to you. You become a resource because you’re connected to THE SOURCE—which means you are disconnected from that which is contrary to God. Jesus said that He is the true vine, and God is husband man (John 15). To be buried in Christ is to be planted in Him and that means God cuts you how He will for the best produce.
- To be prosperous—God is the God of legacy. He is called the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; Elisha went back to the Jordan and said: Where is the God of Elijah? Jesus is referred to as the root of Jesse and the son of David. These are just small examples of the ways God shows His covenant to His children bearing fruit that remains John 15:16). To rush fruit is to produce growth that pulls from unsustainable spaces, from resources that might be tainted or stagnant, or even from the inside of yourself, causing you to wither and die. The River of living water never dries up, comes from the purest source—the very throne of God—and thus has the ability to sustain legacy.
This is what the Lord allowed me to see:
Mr. Jackson’s faith in God did not look like what many would think it should. He did not waste time trying to look like or act like or sound like. He learned, as so many of us need to learn in this hour, to be and to be by the living water, allowing that water to flow through him and to you—to us. The scripture that we quote and misappropriate is this one:
“There is a river, the streams whereof shall make glad the city of God, The holy place of the tabernacles of the most High. God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved: God shall help her, and that right early.”
Psalm 46:4-5 KJV
See look at the imagery. The river runs through the city, the new Jerusalem. But until we get there—until we see Jesus Christ face to face, we are that CITY. See look:
“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid.”
Matthew 5:14 KJV
In the rest of that scripture in Matthew 5: Where does the savored salt come from that salts the earth? Where does the light come from that we should show others to glorify our Father? Yep. The River of that flows from God, who is in the midst of the city (Psalm 46). Why does the city not fail? Because God is within her.
God was within Mr. Jackson. Or Deacon. Or Poopah. Or Red.
And so even as the earth of His body has passed away, and the heaven found in his physical presence fades, the word of God and the glory revealed in Mr. Jackson remains. My prayer for each person who takes the time to read these words, to listen to the sound (broken as it may be coming from me) of what the Spirit is saying to the churches is this:
May you, too, become that tree that has been planted by the River of living water, that you be rooted and grounded in God’s word so that obedience becomes your joy. May you, in meditating on God’s word day and night, bring forth fruit in your seasons, the fruit that remains in Christ. May your light so shine, a city on a hill, as the glory of the Father be revealed to men in you.
And me? Well. I’m still gone do what we had decided to do, me and Mr. Jackson. I’m gone keep knocking folks out for the LORD. In the Holy Ghost.😂😑