Tree of Life

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In the Garden, there were many trees, but two were mentioned specifically. The Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, and the Tree of Life. Because Adam and Eve ate of the former, they could not eat of the latter and life forever. (Genesis 2&3)

That is the tree of life, only referenced again in Revelation. And it’s amazing. From Genesis, we learn that this tree grants those that eat of it to live forever, but Revelation tells us more. It is the paradise of God (Rev 2:7).

And then this next part is too marvelous for me to paraphrase.

“Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations.” (Rev 22:1-2)

Did you catch that? The “river of the water of life, bright as crystal flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb” feeds this tree that bears TWELVE kinds of fruit. And its leaves were for the healing of the nations. I told you I couldn’t paraphrase it. I basically just quoted it again. How good is our God?! He gives fruit for each month and leaves for healing. This tree is never not producing goodness and health for all who are granted to eat of it.

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Did you catch the description of the river? Flowing with the water of life, bright as crystal coming from the throne of God! I love rivers. Who could hear of this not be amazed? But it feels like a special kiss from Heaven, because He knows how I love rivers, so He delights my heart with particularly joyful expectation.

And can you imagine a different fruit each month of the year from the same tree? And healing leaves! Sweet Jesus, is there going to be tea in Heaven?! Can I have tea made from the leaves of the tree of life? Okay, forgive me. I got a little excited. Tea makes me happy. 🙂 Now I am imaging a cup of healing tea under the tree of life by the bright crystal river flowing from the throne…

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And I am sure now beyond a shadow of a doubt that there is something else I am missing. The glory of God in Heaven on His throne will certainly be more awe-inspiring than any created thing – even this delightful river and tree. Will I ever tire of bowing before His throne? Or want to take my gaze away from my King long enough to look at any other living thing? I will be surrounded by so much beauty, but He alone will forever be the most beautiful thing.

Goodness! I was planning on writing about lesser “trees”, but God knows this is the meditation I need.

If you want to look up what I was going to write about, here are the passages: Proverbs 3:18Proverbs 11:30Proverbs 13:12Proverbs 15:4.

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Hope

Sure of what you hope for
Certain of what you do not see.
I’ve tried to muster up faith for
years without hoping.

Without risking
disappointment.
Reaching, whisp’ring
Healing ointment.

And hope for what?
What could hold the weight?
Longings glut
and eternally satiate?

In Christ alone
my pain abates.
My desire, my shalom,
Joy anticipates.

Timely Reminder

When I got home last night, I knew I couldn’t go straight to bed. My mind was running, going nowhere but going in a frenzy. “Well, if I cannot make another’s heart my home, might as well make this room more like a home,” I said out loud to no one, as awfully melodramatic as it sounds. But I proceeded to turn on a couple lamps and sit in my arm chair with my journal.

It was a dark place. And I gave my thoughts room to roam. This is how I journal. I write down my feelings and ask for God to lead my thoughts. Though I didn’t get full relief, I did settle on knowing that God made me for Himself.

I slept restlessly and fought the morning until I had no choice but to get up. But then I got outside. It was cloudy, with a slight breeze. The greens seemed greener, and I wanted nothing more than to roll down the windows and drive with nothing on my mind. Just me and the wind, traffic roaring and birds singing.

Though I longed to keep driving, responsibility stopped my wheels. I sat down at my desk inside. When I opened my e-mail, cup of tea in hand, I found the link to this article – Will I Be Single Forever?

And the words hit home.

The reason we grow discontent in our singleness (or our job, or marriage, or car, or children, or anything else) is because that person or thing (whatever it is) looks so big and eternity looks so small. If you hold a coin close enough to your face, it will obscure an entire city skyline.

That’s what I was doing. And it happened so seamlessly. I lost focus on eternity with as much ease as a toddler losing focus on his green beans.

When our present circumstances look bigger than eternity, we have lost perspective. When we lose perspective, we tend to load too much of our contentment onto something never designed to bear the weight. We look to a spouse, a friend, a vacation, or an accomplishment to give us the happiness they never can.

I’ve known this. I could have written this article. How quickly I forget! Even in my despair, I knew I could not rest my hopes on a man. I literally said those words last night, but my heart wasn’t hearing it.

The more restless we are for the new creation — the more our thoughts and emotions are captivated by it — the less we’ll be shaken by disappointment in this life and the more we’ll see every present blessing not as a final destination but as a signpost pointing toward eternity. The more restless we become, the more contented we are.

God is so faithful to remind me of truth I am so prone to forget. This world and all it’s pain does not get the final word. And every blessing is only a taste of an unshakable reality to come.

Eden was lovely fragility. The new creation will be gorgeous stability. Eden was like an exquisite china bowl — beautiful but breakable. The new creation will be like the Alps — breathtaking and immovable.

A Cloudy Day

I had to leave. I felt so alone in that crowded home. No one knew the ache in my heart. No one even asked.

“I have to go,” I told them, not mentioning where. That wasn’t necessary information. If they knew I was going for a walk, someone might offer to come with, and I wanted to be alone to talk to Jesus.

It was a cloudy day. Raining just barely. A fresh mist falling from the sky. Everything looked so beautifully green. I walked, embracing the rain, giving no thought to my lack of umbrella and, therefore, damp appearance.

And I cried. How could there be so much beauty in the world, when there is so much pain? And my thoughts drew to the ground, beneath the dirt. The seeds had to die for life to give birth. It’s the way things work. People too. I know this is an old truth, but I have to re-learn it every season. These work together – beauty and pain. One does not diminish the other.

“It makes me sad that you are sad,” were the tender words of my emotionally intelligent 7 year old nephew. And in that hurting together, there is the strength of bittersweet beauty that sends our roots deeper.

I walked back to the house to use the bathroom, and say my final goodbyes. I was going to leave, anyway, but then my friend started to play his guitar, and I stayed. We sang our praises to Jesus our King, and my spirit soared above the trees I wished I could climb. ‘Tis so sweet to trust in Jesus. ❤

Silence, Gravity, and Serenity

Lately, I’ve not had much to say. On the phone with a friend last night, I mostly let him talk. There came that oft’ dreaded silence… “Well… I should let you go…”

I had thoughts, but none seemed important. Or they may have seemed valuable, but my voice did not have the strength to carry them. They resided in a place more honored by my silence.

Lately, I feel the same when talking to God. I don’t have much to say. He knows my troubles, and even the thought of mentioning them exhausts me. Not that they are much more than anyone else’s woes. The more I talk with people, the more I see that they are common. And maybe that’s what makes them feel heavier. A very deep and wide weight that affects us all, like gravity.

Waking up is hard. But this morning, I had somewhere to be, though I felt like I had nothing to bring. And that’s enough. It is enough to simply bring myself. As much as I want to be worthy of eternal love on my own, Christ gives this gift to me freely. He sees my weakness and loves me completely. It’s enough to be me. And this world I try to carry was carried for me.

It’s not about what I could bring,
But all about Jesus Christ my King.

And in that place, I felt the sweetness of His friendship. Not detached from sorrow, but more like my feet could be planted in it while my arms reached all the higher in love and hope. My Savior loves my friendship. And this is not some irreverent thing. It is entirely holy. Built on my weakness and His strength, and He carries me happily. He carries me – this happy, hurting, and growing tree. I drink freely of His love as He waters me.

 

Enneagram Type

First of all, for those unfamiliar with the Enneagram, it “is a description of the human psyche which is principally understood and taught as a typology of nine interconnected personality types.” (wikipedia)

But that is where my broad description ends. It is definitely worth researching more. I did much of my research and took the test on EnneagramInstitute.com. 

I am a Four, though I don’t identify with all the descriptions of this type. Still, it is most broadly true of me.

Reading the description on type Four was quite painful, as my least favorite flaws stared unabashedly in my face… But the Personal Growth Recommendations were super helpful.

Regardless of how well I may be doing, it is always a temptation to fall into familiar unhealthy patterns. Therefore, these tips are helpful to keep here, where I can easily access them and remind myself,

• You are not your feelings.
• Do good when you don’t feel like it.
• Take on challenges you don’t feel ready for.
• Self-discipline is not antagonistic to freedom,
• and your un-tethered imagination is.”

(My paraphrase of the recommendations^)

*ALSO I am a big fan of Sleeping at Last, so I have been following Ryan O’Neill’s songs corresponding to each Enneagram type and listening to the podcasts explaining each. He does a beautiful job ❤ and honors each type with his music and lyrics. Chris Heuertz, author of The Sacred Enneagram, also speaks on this podcast and offers thoughtful explanation and encouragement. They have only released the first three types, so I am anxiously awaiting the rest!

Like Those Who Built Cathedrals

We went around answering the question, “How would you like to be remembered after you die?” As someone who loved well, someone who risked all, someone who lived unafraid… And my answer surprised them.

I want to live a fearless life filled with love and risk-taking, yes. But I do not long for the memory of me to be glorified or praised. In my death, I do not desire to have your view of me elevated.

I love the story of the people who built those massive gorgeous cathedrals. The ones who never saw the completion of their work in their lifetime, who never received accolades or their names in history books. I want to devote my life to something bigger than me; that I care about more than my reputation.

Unless I am mistakenly assumed to be dead, I won’t be reading my eulogy. And the praise of man won’t mean a thing to me while I am kneeling before the throne of God in Heaven, basking in His beauty.

At my funeral, people can say whatever they want, wear what color they want, and grieve however best serves them. My eulogy can be as simple or complex as the person writing it wants it to be. In the end, what matters is not what people remember about me, but that God gets the glory in my life and death.

The world may never mention my name again, but if people are changed by the love of God through me, that is enough. I need no credit. All I have done or will do that is good, is not of my strength but His.

I want to lay some bricks in the cathedral of His glory, where people may walk in and be in awe, but not in awe of me.

I remember a small part in The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis in which he describes a woman given honor, unbearable beauty, and a grand procession in Heaven…

“Is it? … is it?” I whispered to my guide.
“Not at all,” said he. “It’s someone ye’ll never have heard of…

“She seems to be … well, a person of particular importance?”
“Aye. She is one of the great ones. Ye have heard that fame in this country and fame on Earth are two quite different things.”

I want to be like this woman. You might think I am contradicting myself now. Do I want the glory or not? Yes and No. Yes, eternally, in Heaven with Jesus. Not here.

Phil 3:12-14

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.

Other related links to check out:

As a footnote, I just found out the this quote “Well Behaved Women Rarely Make History” wasn’t intended to be used as it is these days. Read more from DesiringGod.org

Also, this poem by C.T. Studd with the ever-applicable lines “Only one life, twill soon be past, Only what’s done for Christ will last.” Read the rest of the poem here.

 

Death of Poetry

I wrote this over 6 years ago, and it’s been saved as a draft… I thought I would share it, since it still means something to me. And I share, so that poetry lives on, at least here. 

There’s poetry in my heart,
but I’m scared to let you see it,
to hear it;
to be given the chance to;
the power to,
reject me.
So I hide it, stifle it, until it shrinks and fades away in hopes to be awaken another day.

Again, I am afraid, but not for me, but for the death of poetry…

October 31st, 2017

I sit at my desk, this chilly morning. It’s 18 degrees (-7 C) outside. A space heater sits at my feet, as I read The Hiding Place. A fitting book for a day like today. Full of faith, and full of fear. I was baptized on this day 18 years ago (it is also the 500th anniversary of the Protestant Reformation). And, as you probably know, it is Halloween.

“‘Oh, my dears, I am sorry for all the Dutchmen now who do not know the power of God. For we will be beaten. But He will not.'” The delightful Mr. ten Boom, spoken soon before his country came under the occupation of Germany in the second World War.

I am past that part, now. Reading about their work with the “underground” to hide Jews. As of yet, they have not succumbed to despair.

“That it could have been happy, at such a time and in such circumstances, was largely a tribute to Betsie… Sometimes we had concerts, with Leendert on the violin, and Thea, a truly accomplished musician, on the piano. Or Betsie would announce ‘an evening of Vondel’ (the Dutch Shakespeare), with each of us reading a part…”

Oh, to know the wisdom in maintaining a jovial spirit in the midst of trouble. ❤

And I hope there is not much trouble tonight. I’ll be staying inside, maybe watching a movie – not scary, mind you. Or maybe I’ll continue to read of the terrors of history. If I want a real nail-biter, I might even listen to the news. Stay safe, ‘Merica, and my fellow earth dwellers. Jesus loves you.