The second part of this mini nature series will observe the symbolism of trees. Myriads of tree species are found all over the world, continuing to spring forth new life each year as the seasons change. A picture of strength, perseverance, grounding, and patience, trees provide us a wonderful lesson for healthy living.
Jeremiah 17:7-8 ESV
“Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord, whose trust is the Lord. He is like a tree planted by water, that sends out its roots by the stream, and does not fear when heat comes, for its leaves remain green, and is not anxious in the year of drought, for it does not cease to bear fruit.”
Consider what a tree endures throughout the seasons. There is the blossom of new life in the spring, nourishing rainfall, scorching heat in the summer months, occasional drought, harsh winters, frozen branches, lightning strikes, strong winds, hail damage, fires, rot, death, and all other things weather/environment related. Yet, each year most trees sign up for another round of similar experiences. Can you imagine yourself enduring all the things that a tree does? Perhaps you do, but your experiences don’t include weathering the literal storms of life. Maybe your seasons reflect trials equally profound but different in design.
A few years ago, God granted me an incredible opportunity to spend a lot of time in the mountains of Pisgah National Forest in North Carolina. Moving from the dusty flatlands of West Texas to the lush forests of the Eastern border of the US was an enlightening experience I’ll never forget. Something about those tall pine trees made me feel at home. It was as if they were holding me in a safe space that my soul so desperately needed at that time in my life. Nature in and of itself is a very healing environment, but the clustered, towering trees brought with them a sense of security and peace. I felt sheltered and protected. Their groundedness helped to encourage my personal feelings of groundedness.
Granted, the trees aren’t the true source of peace, security, and so on. They are only reflections. It is God’s presence in his creation that continue to remind me that all is well, and everything will be alright. I tell you this story to encourage you to look at your environment differently. When you look at tree, what do you see? Can you observe the way it makes you feel when you are near it? Do you notice your reaction when you look at it? Go deeper. Can you relate to it in some way(s)?
Scripture is full of references to different tree species. Some were depicted as a place of rest or nourishment (Ezekiel 47:12, Daniel 4:10-12, 1 Kings 19:5, Genesis 18:4, Psalm 104:17), others were primarily used for building things (Deuteronomy 20:20, 1 Kings 10:11-12), and several were used as metaphors of human character (Psalm 92:12, Hosea 14:6, Luke 6:43-45). The specific mentioning of these trees (i.e., cedar, acacia, almond, oak, etc.) is not without purpose. May you be encouraged to dive deeper into the character of the trees mentioned throughout the Bible. They just might unveil a deeper understanding of yourself and of God.
The most famous and most important tree mentioned in the Bible is the Tree of Life. This tree was rooted in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8-9) but is also described as being within the gates of the eternal city, the paradise of God (Revelation 2:7, Revelation 22:14). I will not go into much depth here, but I do encourage you to spend some time reading through Genesis 1-3, wherein the tree of life is introduced. These chapters will provide you a foundational understanding of your human existence and God’s precious intentions for you.
Observe your “roots”. Are you firmly planted, bearing nourished fruit? Or are your roots more shallow in nature, occasionally being uprooted when times get tough?
My prayer for you this week:
Psalm 1:3 ESV
He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers.
Job 14:7 ESV
“For there is hope for a tree, if it be cut down, that it will sprout again, and that its shoots will not cease.”