The Tree of Life, ALS, and the Healing of the Nations

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Monday Morning Perspective:

On either side of the river is the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit, producing its fruit each month; and the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations. – Revelation 22:2

Gethsemane - 2,000 year old trees
Gethsemane – Tree for the Healing of the Nations

Yesterday at WFPC, Rebekah shared a great illustration about the strength of trees. If trees are planted in an environment where there is no stress, no wind, no storms, then they fail to develop the strength necessary to thrive. They are weak; they don’t produce good fruit; eventually they die.

I spent the Sunday-school hour talking about this with a small group my friends. We looked at several Bible passages that use trees to demonstrate a spiritual point, and (as often happens at church) the direction of the conversation worked its way over to some of the terrible news stories we’ve been hearing about this summer.

1477655EVIL: We all share a profound sense of horror at the depth of hate, brutality, inhumanity, and applied evil that seems to dominate so much of the news headlines.

“So what do we do?” I asked. “We hear so many sad stories that it’s easy to become numb, calloused, or even disinterested. Is the world beyond saving? Should we go bomb somebody, or invade somewhere? Should we build more schools? Should we send more missionaries? How do we respond?”

Someone shared a story about a friend involved in mission work; someone else talked about an aid program they regularly contribute to; another referenced an ongoing hunger initiative our church sponsors; and there was a subtle shift in the tone of our conversation.

ICE-BUCKET CHALLENGE: Not surprisingly, the “ALS Ice-Bucket Challenge” phenomenon came up. Eyes open wide; exclamations of wonder; “can you believe what happened!” I mentioned the newsletter I receive in response to our donation, and the fact that the unofficial campaign has already generated around $55-million since July 29. Ordinary people; $10 here, $50 there, some donating $100; building awareness; doing what we can.

One of the scriptures we looked at talks about The Tree of Life, from Revelation 22. The leaves of that tree, the Bible points out, are “for the healing of the nations.” Our opportunity, as leaves on a tree made strong not in spite of but BECAUSE of the storms we endure, is to serve God – and our neighbors – as a source of healing for this world!

Trees at WFPC
Trees at WFPC

LIVING HOPE: “One of the best things we can do,” I said, “especially when we feel so helpless to make a difference, is to stay rooted in good soil, to thrive ourselves, and to stand as living hope for those who otherwise may not remember what hope looks like.”

Fact is, we can’t help others if we’re not strong ourselves; we can’t share resources we don’t have; we can’t be a beacon of light if we run out of fuel; there won’t be any leaves “for the healing of the nations” if our tree is not rooted in love, and if our branches are not connected to the vine.

  • we can’t help others if we’re not strong ourselves;
  • we can’t share resources we don’t have;
  • we can’t be a beacon of light if we run out of fuel;
  • there won’t be any leaves “for the healing of the nations” if our tree is not rooted in love, and if our branches are not connected to the vine.

CONNECTED: I don’t know what particular ministry any one of us will be called to do. One of you may well be the person who one day eradicates Ebola, or the diplomat who brokers peace in the Middle East, or the missionary who sets up a new school in Iraq. But I do know that if you want to make a difference, then the best way to begin is to be connected to a strong tree and to live as a witness to light and hope.

Living hope at WFPC
Living hope at WFPC

And if enough of us shine, if enough of us respond with the kind of enthusiasm that raised a bucket of ice-water and over $50 million for ALS, then we will see healing, and we will see hope. Because it only takes a small flicker of light to defeat a whole world of darkness.

Peace, Promise, Hope, and Blessings – DEREK

 

 

 

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