Nature walks are very inspiring. I never know what I will discover when I’m on a nature walk. Creation speaks, if I am listening. It has stories to tell if I take the time to hear and see what it is saying.
One of my favorite places to hike is in the forest rich mountains near our cabin in north Georgia. The air is clean and fresh. Life abounds, wherever I look. Brooks babble as they wind to and fro following the curves of the mountain, while exposing reverse images of the scenery on their banks.
I have always been fascinated with trees. From the time I was a child, trees sparked my imagination. A giant, untamed oak with its huge outstretched arms became a luxurious hotel entertaining visitors from around the world. The 1913 poem Trees by Joyce Kilmer further inspired my love for trees.
Trees possess a grand and majestic place in the forest, but eventually, like us, all trees will die. When a tree falls in the forest, it is left where it lies. I often wondered why massive 50-60 foot trees would be left to rot on the forest floor. They could, of course, be cut into logs for firewood, made into furniture, or sculpted into a masterpiece for man to enjoy. I’m sure some are, but most lie dormant where they fall. It seems a waste, unless you frequently visit those places where trees live and die.
The moment a tree dies, new life begins to spring forth. Parasites such as fungi, bacteria and invertebrates find a place to lodge and feed on the nutrients the tree holds within. Animals find shelter within its cavities, while visitors find them to be a quiet bench on which to sit and meditate. Before long, lichen attach to the top side of the fallen trees where the sun warms them as they feed on the bark beneath. Some weave intricate, lacy leaves, like the most detailed tatted lace or crocheted doilies women make for their homes. Their colors and designs are beautiful, all sustained by the fallen tree on the forest’s floor.
It takes years for the tree to decompose, but in the process nothing is wasted. The soil is enriched with vital nutrients. Life is sustained and new life is born by the sacrifice of the fallen giant. A tree’s seeds germinate, reproduce and shelter the forest, until they too, find their rest on the forest floor. The tree’s life and death leave a legacy which makes it possible for new plants and animals to thrive. Without it, the cycle of life would diminish for all.
Jesus’ life, death and resurrection left us a legacy which causes all who believe in Him to thrive two thousand years later. In Genesis 2:7 He breathed the breath of Life into mankind, and caused us to live. In John 6:63 His Spirit gives Life as it connects us to God; His words are Life as they transform us, by manifesting God’s Truth in our hearts. In John 14:6 He is the Way, the Truth and the Life; no Life exists apart from Him, no Truth subsists separately from Him, and there is no other Way to God except through Him. In Revelation 22:2 Jesus is the River of Life; in John 4:10 He is the Living Water where all Life springs forth and from which all life is sustained. In John 10:15-17 Jesus laid down His very Life for the sheep, because He considered us worth dying for. In John 11:25 Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life, so that we too will rise and live with Him in eternity. In 1 John 5:11-12 God has given us Eternal Life through His Son, Jesus, for all who believe. In Genesis 2:9 and Revelation 22:2 Jesus is the Tree of Life; He feeds, nurtures and heals all who come to Him for Life. In Malachi 2:5 Jesus is the New Covenant which is Life and Peace through which He reconciled us to God, making us at peace with Him. In John 10:10 Jesus came that we might have Life, a life overflowing with His abundance. In 2 Peter 1:3 Jesus has given us all things that pertain to Life and Godliness; in Him we are complete, lacking nothing. In Revelation 20:15 and 22:19 Jesus has written our names in the Lamb’s Book of Life declaring we eternally belong to Him. Through His own sacrifice, Jesus has given us a rich, eternal legacy.
Knowing the legacy the Lord has left for us, what is the legacy we will leave behind for our succeeding generations and the world? Will others be nurtured and fed by our life and death? Will we pass on a legacy of abundant life in Christ? Will we sacrifice for those coming after us or will we live for the moment, enjoying and taking all we can for ourselves with little thought of those who will come behind?
May we apprehend all of the legacy Christ Jesus acquired for us, and pass it on to those generations who will inherit what we possessed. May what we leave them cause them to exceed beyond all expectation so that they may truly become the fullness in Christ Jesus. Their success and well-being will depend on what we leave behind!