Posts Tagged ‘tree of life’

Fig Tree by Dee Schenck Rhodes

Fig Tree by Dee Schenck Rhodes

A parable: “A man had a fig tree growing in his vineyard, and he went to look for fruit on it but did not find any. So he said to the man who took care of the vineyard, ‘For three years now I’ve been coming to look for fruit on this fig tree and haven’t found any. Cut it down! Why should it use up the soil?’“‘Sir,’ the man replied, ‘leave it alone for one more year, and I’ll dig around it and fertilize it. If it bears fruit next year, fine! If not, then cut it down.’” [Luke 13:6b-9]

One more year; one more growing season to change; one more opportunity to work with the gardener and produce fruit.

We’re not so great at parables anymore, or maybe we’re just as dense as the disciples were back in Jesus’s time. So many times the disciples had to ask Jesus to explain the stories. But not this one; this one is up to us to figure out.

Who is the owner of the vineyard? Who is the one who cares for the vineyard? Who is the fig tree? What is the fruit? Why didn’t the tree produce fruit? How would the soil be fertilized? And what does it mean to be cut down?

God is the owner. Jesus is the farmer/caretaker. I am the tree. But what is the fruit?

I did a little investigating and apparently the fig tree was one of the most valuable trees in Israel at that time because it bore fruit three times a year. So, in the parable, that means that this particular tree, still hadn’t produced fruit in any one of the seasons that had passed. So, why keep this tree? It was planted for the purposed of yielding fruit. That was the job of the tree, not acting as a shade tree, not as an art object, and not as a road marker. Fig trees bear figs. Fig trees don’t bear apples or peaches or cherries.

Each human “fig tree” has its own fruit as well. Oh, sure, there are the fruits of the spirit (See Galatians 5:22-23 if you want to review the list). And certainly, all trees should have these attributes. On the other hand, a friend of mine said that the fruit of the tree is more believers, more followers of Christ, more like-minded, like-spirited people. This interpretation makes me feel like it’s a numbers game (how many people have you “saved?”).

No, I’m much more interested in the specific and unique fruit that comes from me. Or you. Or any other believer. We each bring something to the table of community and to the Body of Christ. Sometimes, it’s a complex recipe and my part may be small compared to another, or vice versa. I know there are seasons I have missed. But I am grateful for a merciful gardener who is willing to tend and nurture my soil. I am still growing. I am still in the orchard.

The soil is fertilized through prayer and study and relationship.

I can only say, I am still here. And as along as I am, then I will take comfort that my seasons are more fruitful than I may realize. It is not I who must judge the harvest.

Read Full Post »

Based on Genesis 2:1-9 and Notes from Zondervan’s Spiritual Renewal Bible (hereinafter called SRB).

My first thoughts today were all about “why.” Why is there a “second” creation story? Why do we have the big overview in chapter 1, only to rewrite the story in chapter 2 (with changes and anomalies). This is probably a huge controversy out there in Bible land or, at the least, fodder for commentators and PhD candidates.

In the SRB notes, it is noted that in 2:4, it is the first time that God is referred to as Yahweh, the Hebrew form for God, the unnameable one, and yet the One that is in relationship with human. And so it occurred to me that this part of the Bible is the relationship story between Yahweh, the creator and his created humans. And, if it’s anything like the creative process I go through (as well as thousands of other writers), the creation part is fun and almost easy, but it’s the re-write that is hard. It’s in the rewrite that the product is transformed and perfected.

We are all in the human rewrite process.

So, how did this happen? I’m guessing that God followed through on his big plan (see Creation Story & Me) and decided to replicate himself. But here’s the hinky part: God is a being of free will of choice. And as a result, created beings have the same DNA.

One of the ways we see immediately this situation is the two trees in the garden (planted together in the center of the garden) where one, from which human could freely eat, was the tree of life (yum!) and the other was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. We know this story. Don’t eat from the second tree. Choose wisely.

But, here’s where we humans tend to  be perpetual teenagers: when told not to do something, it becomes the very thing we want to do. God is saying, “I made you and you can choose to be like me” by following in my path, eating from the tree of life, etc. Or you can choose to be “not like me” by eating of the other tree. (This is really interesting since we know that the “serpent/Satan” convinced human that eating of the second tree would be the “more like God” choice when, in reality, the opposite was true. Lies, lies, and more lies. But I get ahead of myself.)

As parents, aren’t we doing the same thing: be like me. Learn from my mistakes. Let me warn you about the second tree (or whatever it might be) and yet, they often choose outside of our hope for them. And as a result, a different path is trudged.

We had those choices. We still do.

Will I be a perpetual teenager and keep choosing my own way or will I finally get it?

Choose God’s way.

Read Full Post »

Tree by Vicky Brago Mitchell

Tree hugger has become, in some circles, a euphemism for left-winger or environmentalist or maybe “commie-fascist-pig.” It’s that bad. Tree huggers are seen to be superfluous and extreme, as though they care more about trees and mice and rivers than they do about oil and energy and pragmatism. Ironic, how many times scripture compares a blessed person to a tree. And one of the most important symbols is the “tree of life.” But of course, that must be different. Or is it?

Psalm 1:3
That person is like a tree planted by streams of water,
which yields its fruit in season
and whose leaf does not wither—
whatever they do prospers.

It’s a good thing, then, to be compared to a tree. Perhaps it came out of the climate where trees were appreciated. I remember my first trip out west by car and how we looked and look for a shady tree to stop for lunch. Another time, I booked a tent site in a camp ground near the beach. It never occurred to me that the site would have no trees. The “gorgeous” weather proved to be monotonous without the blessing of natural shade.

Our current house backs up to the woods. It is the reason we wanted this piece of property (although my big dream is to live near water — river, ocean, lake, etc.); the next best is trees. They are in constant motion really through their partnership with the wind. They are a nesting ground for all kinds of animals. They are part of the cycle of life and clean air. I have never told anyone before, but within days of our move-in, I felt compelled to do something very “new agey” and thank the trees for their sacrifice since hundreds were downed and destroyed in the name of our suburban sprawl. It just seemed right.

One of my favorite nature images is a winter tree silhouetted by the setting sun. I can’t explain that. So, yes, I really am a quiet advocate for trees. And yet, I am also careless as most urban dwellers. I use a lot of paper (it doesn’t look like a tree) and I enjoy the gifts of wood from floor to ceiling. I even live in a wood house.

Maybe that’s the real problem. I like the “idea” of trees; I like them conceptually. It’s not too different from liking the idea of being a follower of Christ. I can romanticize that too. I can sing all the right songs and wear the right jewelry. I can roll out a few scriptures, and I can pray a good prayer. I am a cross hugger about as much as I am a tree hugger.

But just as the rainforests are being systematically destroyed God’s natural world is being polluted, so are children of God starving around the world. . . starving for food as well as spirit. People are dying by violence and neglect. A monthly check to one organization or another is no longer enough.

Save the trees :: Save the people.

Read Full Post »

Once upon a time, there was a river and on each side, a single tree stood bearing fruit and healing. The only way I can imagine it is as a great giant tree straddling the flowing waters. In a way, it makes a type of cross, the vertical tree whose limbs reach to the sky and roots into the ground, while the river acts as the horizontal uniting creation. Both are needed to heal our land, our souls, our earth.

Revelation 22:1-2
 Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, as clear as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb down the middle of the great street of the city. On each side of the river stood the tree of life, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month. And the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations.

A river is dynamic. It is constantly changing as it flows with new waters replacing old. It manipulates the environment, shaping the ground to its own plan. It appears to meander, curving through the landscape, but really, it’s just touching more and more of the earth. It’s in a constant state of flux. It cleanses itself. It is a type for love.

A tree is fixed. It doesn’t really walk about like the trees in the Lord of the Rings. It is solid within the parameters of its designated location. It can grow fatter, taller, and deeper. There is a stubbornness in a tree, quite similar to the stream. It does not give up easily. In my own yard, lightning struck and damaged a very old beech tree. The tree people came and sawed off all of the branches but one that stuck out awkwardly from the top of its mutilated trunk. And yet, it lives on, from season to season. It is a type for life.

Love and the will to live, two of the most powerful forces in the universe. These are both gifts from God and they will not be taken away from those who desire it. The key is to experience them both, for one needs the other, intertwined forever.

Read Full Post »

A promise: return to my First Love and I will be given to eat from the tree of life, the most profound symbol of healing, strength, longevity, stability, and faithfulness.

Revelation 2:7b
“. . . To him who overcomes I will give to eat from the tree of life, which is in the midst of the Paradise of God.”

I have always loved seeing naked winter trees at sunrise or sunset, golden colors spilling through the gaps between the branches. There is a “recognition” or buzz that resonates in my hart and soul. I know this image, I know its meaning, I know it value. There is peace in it, the tree and the light.

Painting by Hyunah Kim

And to imagine, there is a God tree that crosses all of time and all seasons without shame or worry, without demands or needs, carrying the abundance of both fruit and seed. The Tree of Life is self-rejuvenating, it is neither male nor female, it is both.

The Tree is protected by God.

The Tree requires my commitment, my engagement, the Tree is a Christ image, and it is further sustained by my love.

The Tree of Life is part of the symbolism of the faith and thereby, part of its mystery.

Read Full Post »

The jar of clay is everything 3-dimensional about me. It’s the human side of me, the “will,” the “Eve” part. It’s the me who gets sucked right into that tantalizing taste of the “complete works of good and evil” written in the fruit of the tree of knowledge.

II Corinthians 4:7
But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.

The jar of clay is fashioned by the Creator, but until it is filled, it is merely an ornament. It is the ingredients that determine the ultimate value of the jar.

I think of the wedding scene at Cana where Jesus turned huge jugs of water into wine. Only Christ can miraculously change base ingredients to fruitfulness.

Our jars are mere skeletons of who we are meant to be. The outlines. The sketches.

Not until the jars are fired are they ready for use.

Here is the real paradox of the jar of clay: we are filled with all that is good from God and then we are encouraged to pour it out again. From our perspective, it appears the jar will empty, but God continues to fill it. In fact, the stuff gets better with each filling.

Pour Christ in and pass the jug.

Read Full Post »

Had some fun this morning thinking of my body as a seed being prepared for planting. Each seed is different. Each seed has its own characteristics and with each 3-D life event, the seed is affected (both good and bad). Each seed then creates a “plant” — a new entity.

I Corinthians 15:36b-37
What you sow does not come to life unless it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or of something else.

It never occurred to me before that a resurrected entity would have as much diversity (or more) than these human bodies we now have.

Really, until Jesus “revealed” himself to the disciples after resurrection, they didn’t really recognize him. He had to manifest something they could understand: the nail-driven hands and feet, the pierced side. But they certainly didn’t recognize his clothes or his features at first.

What else don’t we recognize? They say we “see what we want to see.” We see what we expect to see. For all we know, the resurrected guys are walking around among us. I’m just sayin’…

In the parable of the sower and the seed, the success of the seed had a great deal to do with environment and circumstances. Some of this environment we cannot control initially (caustic families, poverty, etc.) but as we mature, we are presented with more choices. We can actually seek change. We can look for good soil. The human seed does not have to be passive. And apparently, when a bunch of seeds get together they can really transform circumstances.

I know these are just flights of fancy, but word pictures are important because I cannot really fathom anything about this “other” world I have called “heaven” all my life. It’s not just a place . . . it’s a state of being.

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: