I like painting. I know I’m no Michael Angelo or Rembrant but I truly enjoy being creative and expressing myself through art. Most times I start a picture with an idea or simple plan of what I want to paint and pray that God will work through the creative process to not only help me put together a picture that glorifies and honors him but that helps me better connect to Him as He shows me glimpses of His love and light. This often happens immediately when I decide a picture is finished but sometimes the heavenly impressions and thoughts don’t surface for quite some time.
That is what God has been doing through this simple painting of a tree that I crafted about a year ago. I was always drawn to how the tree featured was not only basking in the light of the setting son but how it was almost smiling and leaning toward the source of these life giving rays. However, it was not until recently that God gave me the image comparison to us as humans being like the tree and God the life giving light that we so need and long for deep inside our hearts.
The Bible often uses trees as a metaphor for us as human and in fact one of my favorite examples of this is in the very 1st Psalm verses 1 thru 3: “How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.”
The Bible is also clear that God is not only love: “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” 1 John 4:16 but that He is also only light: “This is the message we have heard from him and declare to you: God is light; in him there is no darkness at all.” 1 John 1:5.
However, beyond these parallels I began to see through this picture two important keys to life if we are to grow our lives towards the light.
First we must keep our heads up towards heaven and our eyes firmly fixes on the light which is Jesus. I love how in this picture the tree has a heavenward tilt looking up to the sun and the sun is shining down with a smile of love and blessing. I liken this to the first three verses of Colossians 3: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.” This sentiment is also echoed in the soothing hymn “Turn your Eyes Upon Jesus” which proclaim the truth that as you “Turn your eyes upon Jesus, Look full in His wonderful face, And the things of earth will grow strangely dim, In the light of His glory and grace”.
Secondly, we must lean on and even into the light if we are to grow above the negative, harmful, unwholesome and unholy STUFF of the world and walk in the light of Jesus’ love. Just as the tree in the picture above is leaning towards the nourishing rays of light, real trees in nature do the same thing. They most often grow high and tall to get above the canopy and closer to the light but they will if needed grow at an angle or even curved just to reach a clear opening to receive the sunlight it needs to survive and even flourish. I love how the hymn [can you tell I love hymns :) ] “Leaning on Jesus” directs us to lean on Jesus and we’ll be “safe and secure from all alarms”. Romans 12:9 puts it more directly this way: “Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhor what is evil; cling to what is good.”
All in all, I’ve found that when I strive to keep my mind set on the things above and rest on Jesus, my load is lighter, I experience more of His joy and His holiness is more evident. Then the sweet fragrance that is Christ can be an aroma that not only fills my life but draws others into the light of His love.