Decide today that by grace you will live resiliently until we live beneath that healing tree through which flows water from the throne.
Published on: 05-28-2021
Long before I learned to read, I heard in Sabbath School that heaven was a place with trees. That was enough for me. I decided I would go there.
Trees were the most benevolent growing things I knew—not fragile like the flowers, or changeable like brothers. A tree could be counted on for cool, green shade on blistering hot afternoons; for shelter when a cloudburst drenched the ball field; for sharing silent moments when I needed solitude. And then there were those wild, joyous climbs to where the branches barely supported my stocky frame—up where the winds moved me and what I clung to.
I’ve wandered through the giant maples planted in New England lanes by long-gone farmers two centuries ago. They saw the day— decades away—when their grandchildren and their grandchildren would be delighted by the rising sap in spring; the great, green tent of summer; and the brilliant reds and oranges of the autumn. They invested in a future they would never see, yet they found satisfaction in it.
And as I grew up in the Lord, I came to understand the psalmist’s righteous comparison between God’s people and life-giving trees: “They are like trees planted by streams of water, which yield their fruit in its season, and their leaves do not wither” (Ps. 1:3).1 I knew such rich, well-watered souls—men and women who dealt with adversity and pain like great old gum trees do with fire: “The holy seed is in its stump” (Isa. 6:13). By daily drinking in the Spirit, they found fresh sources of renewal—courage facing cancer; trust when all around them were distressed; kindness when the mob was grabbing clubs.
In a word, they were resilient, humans learning how to live the qualities of kingdom life while growing here below. Their poise and graciousness reminded me that the most effective witnesses to the resurrected life don’t always rush about in zealous haste. Sometimes they simply grow and shelter, creating sanctuaries for those who need the peace that passes understanding (Phil. 4:7):
“They are planted in the house of the Lord; they flourish in the courts of our God. They still bring forth fruit in old age, they are ever full of sap and green” (Ps. 92:13, 14, RSV).2
As our world still wrestles with a deadly plague that never seems to end, we look to strong, well-watered souls to guide us in these troubled times. Their faith, their fruitfulness, their rootedness in Scripture, are just the qualities of those who will one day camp beneath the tree of life (Rev. 22:2).
Decide today that by grace you will live resiliently until we live beneath that healing tree through which flows water from the throne. “Here is a call for the endurance of the saints, those who keep the commandments of God and hold fast to the faith of Jesus” (Rev. 14:12).