A gigantic pepper tree rules over the yard inside the compound of the mission in Mexico where we served for twenty years. We lived there in various seasons of that time, and my children played under the shade of that tree with the children of the mission. Interestingly enough, when my husband was 15 years old he spent a summer there, with two other young people who helped with whatever the house-parents needed. All three remember a stick in the ground with a turkey tied to it, fattening up for a future meal. That simple stick took root, sprouted and grew into the twenty-foot tree. In those 50 years, many children have played under that tree.
Last year the mission celebrated its fiftieth anniversary with a homecoming of many of those children…some grandparents now! They brought their children and grandchildren and watched them play under that same tree. It reminded me of the promise God made to Israel through the prophet Zechariah:
Thus says the LORD of hosts: Old men and old women shall again sit in the streets of Jerusalem, each with staff in hand because of great age. And the streets of the city shall be full of boys and girls playing in its streets. Thus says the LORD of hosts: If it is marvelous in the sight of the remnant of this people in those days, should it also be marvelous in my sight, declares the LORD of hosts? Zechariah 8:4-6 (ESV)
Who could have foretold that children who had been abandoned or orphaned, who had suffered much, would one day sit and watch their children and grandchildren play where they had played. Where they had learned that One who loved them will be with them no matter what the future holds, if they chose to follow Him.
I do not pretend to know what the current strife in the Middle East means for Israel, or for Christians. However, I do know there is a tree in whose shade we all can live and breathe in peace. That cross-shaped tree rules over Satan who would like to chain us in sin and suffering for eternity. Instead, Christ’s work on the cross rescues all who choose to follow Him, and that work is our guarantee of a home with Him for eternity.
The Apostle John verifies this promise, and our hope, when he shares the vision about the tree of life that Christ himself gave him.
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. Revelation 22:1-2 (ESV)
All who have made Jesus the Lord of their lives enjoy a share in the fruit and the healing from that tree—in this life, and in the life to come. Someday we will all have that grand homecoming, where we will celebrate our awesome God and the righteous work He has accomplished for us. This guarantee is so important that Christ warns us through John that:
… if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book. Revelation 22:19
Sit down under a tree today and praise God for what He has done.
(A side note: I looked through hundreds of pictures, both digital and photos, for a good picture of the tree in Mexico with children playing under it. I have MANY memories in my mind but could only find two or three pictures where the tree was actually prominent! It comes to my mind that we decorate our walls with crosses, we wear jewelry in the shape of the cross, but it is not the cross that we celebrate. The tree is important, but it is not the most important thing. What happened under and around the tree is what matters. Likewise, the cross is not the most important thing, but the One who was crucified on it and what He did through it is what makes the difference for every person and for eternity.)