I couldn’t live where there were no trees – something vital in me would starve. ~ Anne of Green Gables
I love coming across new evidence of God’s love for us.
I have always loved trees, have always felt much like Anne did about living without them, but the most I’d really thought about them in terms of their relation to God is what an amazing job He did in creating them.
I recently listened to an interview with a couple of artists on Mars Hill Audio Journal. It was only a minute or two of the entire segment, but they mentioned that after the human face and figure, trees are the main focal point for artists. Whenever there is a tree in a painting, it automatically draws the eye to it.
Why is that true? One of their hypotheses was that it has something to do with our deep subconscious knowing that we need trees to survive, our knowing that we depend upon trees for life. I wonder, though, if it is even deeper than that.
My mind is drawn to the tree that God chose as our point of obedience. We chose foolishly and we disobeyed.
My mind is also drawn to the tree that God chose as our point of redemption. He chose beautifully and we were saved.
God has chosen trees for great purposes. Did He have those purposes in mind as He created trees? I wonder.
Trees are often used in God’s Word to show strength and constancy. One of my favorites is the Psalm that says that a man who delights in and meditates on God’s law is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in season and whose leaves never wither.
I wonder. And I imagine. I can imagine that God knew that He would create Man to love images, to hunger after metaphors to help explain the unexplainable. I can imagine that same God, before He ever spoke light into being, planning out His world to contain specific metaphors of meaning, just because He loves us. I can imagine Him planning His trees to look a certain way, planning to use them in a particular manner, so that we would see them and draw meaning from them and be satisfied, just because He loves us.
Perhaps that is a stretch. Perhaps it didn’t really happen that way. But it seems like something that would be just like our God: to carefully plan out His creation in the way that would give His children the most joy.
Art credit: last photograph by Kirk Sewell (R K Sewell Photography)
I am wrestling with the difficulty of believing God.
I suppose it would be more accurate and honest to admit that really I am wrestling with why I don’t believe God much of the time.
This struggle to believe manifests itself in different ways at various times and seasons in my life, but currently I am noticing it in two particular ways.
One struggle I have is in believing that God truly loves my children.
When I say it like that, it seems ludicrous. We are talking, after all, about the same God who gave up His only Son so that my children could be with Him forever.
Yet I worry about my babies. I worry about their safety, about whether they will survive to adulthood (although sometimes I think that it might be me who causes them not to survive), about whether they will suffer some horrible trauma along the way. I worry about whether they will learn to love God most of all and whether they will love people. I worry about my children…which means that I am not believing God.
God has promised that He loves my children even more than I do. He has promised that He will do what is best for them and that He will give them what they need. But I still worry. Why?
Part of the trouble is that I don’t trust in what God’s best is. I know that sometimes His best is painful and even when I can trust in that for myself, I often want to protect them. It is truly ridiculous that I would want to protect my children from God, but there it is. Deep down inside, I sometimes believe that I know better than God, that my goals for my children are more important than God’s goals for them.
I don’t know why I wrestle with this. When I state it so plainly, even I can see the foolishness of it. It should be easy to believe. Yet it is not.
The other struggle I currently have is in believing that God’s Spirit will truly guide me through life. I have trouble believing that God is interested in all areas of life. Can I really trust the Holy Spirit to guide me in my parenting? Can I really trust the Holy Spirit to show me the best way to train, disciple, even educate my children? Does God’s Spirit care about a business, a household, a career?
I don’t believe it and so I want to rely on books, on methods, on other people to tell me how to raise and teach my babies. Yet if Jesus is before all things, if all things hold together in Him, and if Jesus sent His Holy Spirit to us to guide us and teach us Jesus’ truth, then He truly is interested in showing me how best to live my life. All aspects of it.
Why is that so difficult to believe, so hard to rely on? It seems like it should be simple. God has never broken a promise; He has proved over and over that His way and His love is best, that His Spirit is faithful to show us truth. I am foolish to doubt the faithfulness of such a God.
Yet I do. I am like the Israelites who refused to believe that God would provide enough manna on the sixth day to provide for the seventh or that He would provide enough harvest bounty in the sixth year to provide for the seventh year of Jubilee. I doubt and I worry. Yet even through the doubt and worry I still keep plodding forward, step by painful step, begging for God to help me trust Him, desperate for more of His Spirit.
I trust that He will. “I believe; help my unbelief!”
Art Credit: The Golden Calf by Esteban March
It changes nothing. It changes everything.
How do you endure? When everything around you is falling apart, when all that you love on this earth fails you, how do you keep going?
It happens to all of us. At some point in our lives, whether early in life or late, we sit in stunned silence while our world crumbles.
What do we do? What do we do when we or one we love is living in the middle of unimaginable pain? What is it that keeps us going, that lets us perservere?
It changes nothing. It changes everything.
Hope doesn’t heal the sick or take away the pain. It doesn’t fill the stomach or bring your loved one back.
It changes nothing.
Hope gives you a glory-full vision of the end of your story. It gives you a glimpse of the beauty, the joy, the perfection that is promised.
It changes everything.
When you know the end of the story, when you know that Christ wins and that we will be with Him forever, it gives us the power to bear anything. Anything. When you can see the end of fear, the end of despair, the end of pain, when you can see the adventure, the rest, the wholeness that waits for you, you are sustained in the now because you know that this, too, shall pass.
So hope. Hope in what is promised. Hope in what God has promised through the power of the resurrected Christ.
For you who have just received that 3 a.m. phone call, you who walk dazed from your doctor’s office, you who saw your child drift away, you who wish desperately for a child, you who sit weeping in a corner, who think that you will always be alone and unloved, for all of you who live in darkness and doubt…
there is hope. Beautiful, glorious, resurrection hope. So breathe deep of this hope. Let it fill you up with peace and joy so that you are able to endure all things. For He who is our hope is coming.
It is promised. It shall be so.
Art credit: last photograph by R.K. Sewell Photography (photographybysewell.webs.com)