And he showed me a pure river of water of life, clear as crystal, proceeding from the throne of God and of the Lamb. In the middle of its street, and on either side of the river, was the tree of life, which bore twelve fruits, each tree yielding its fruit every month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations. … Blessed are those who do His commandments, that they may have the right to the tree of life, and may enter through the gates into the city. (Revelation 22:1-2, 14).I'm sometimes at a loss to describe the beauty of God's creation. Words dance about my head as I sit next to a roaring campfire, but I can never pen them onto paper.
Instead, I'm content to watch the light glance off the pines trees that reach to the heavens. With the stars visible through the tree tops, the campfire gives me time to contemplate the handiwork of God's wonderful creation and consider the day when I will join Him in a "land on a faraway strand."
Song writers have used words for generations to express their faith about heaven. With inspiration from the inspired words of scripture, they've often used scenes of delightful gardens and forests to explain what we'll see in heaven one day.
We sang such a hymn in worship yesterday morning. The second stanza from the hymn, penned by Mrs. F.A.F. White in 1889, caught my attention. The verse reminded me of my beloved Sierra Nevada mountains:
There are evergreen treesWhile Mrs. White’s beautiful hymn describes heaven ("I Have Heard of a Land"), I couldn’t help but think of majestic ponderosa pines, so common in the thick forests of the Sierra Nevada. Its yellow-green leaves blanket the forest, with tree tops swaying in the breeze.
That bend low in the breeze,
And their fruitage is brighter than gold;
There are harps for our hands
In that fairest of lands,
And nothing shall ever grow old.
White’s hymn describes heaven as a place of great splendor and glory. You could compare White’s evergreen tree to the "tree of life" of Genesis and Revelation.
It makes sense that the tree of life, when described in human terms, would never shed its leaves. Unlike the ponderosa, whose cones take two years to mature, the tree of life bears continuous fruit to those who obey God's commands.
Next time I light a campfire, I'll remember Mrs. White's words. Those and words remind you of heaven. "And nothing shall grow old. In that beautiful land on the faraway strand," she concludes in the refrain.