Your kingdom is an everlasting kingdom, and your dominion endures through all generations. Psalm 145:13
While backpacking and camping with some college buddies on Isle Royale in Lake Superior this last week, my husband collected many memories and a few photographs to share with our children and I when he returned home. My favorite memory is trapped in his mind visually – there is no photo of it. He has done his best to describe it in great detail for me, and he draws it with his hands on the space around him as he speaks:
“As we were hiking, I found one of the largest birch stumps I have seen in my life. I’ve never seen live birches as big and old as the trees on this island. This tree had to have lived ninety to a hundred years before it was either cut or fell naturally. Three newer trees had grown from this big, old stump. The two larger of these had already snapped off about six feet off the ground. The other has survived and appeared to be thriving from this old tree stump.”
So, in my mind I have a picture, an interpretation, of what he saw. I’ve drawn it out on paper, and he has corrected this picture until I’ve come to a close understanding of what he saw, but now my husband wishes he had thought to stop and take a photograph of it for me. See, I cannot clearly understand it until I see it for myself. Of course, he hadn’t thought I would fixate on this particular part of his adventure on the island.
There is something about the picture he has illustrated for me which paints a picture of Christ and his church. Of Christ’s body (followers) and the life that flows from his death. I also get a sense of family from the picture my husband has described to me. How the generations are born out of those that come before and how they are rooted, entwined, and grow up out of what is left behind.
Posterity will serve him, future generations will be told about the Lord. They will proclaim his righteousness to a people yet unborn – for He has done it. Psalm 22:30-31
When I step back from the long moments of talking with my husband and asking questions about what he saw, trying to picture it all in my mind, I see another illustration growing out of this tree. I see a picture of conversations with the lost and seeking. We can share our faith with others, but they will not be able to understand it just through our description of the experience or even our explanation of the Scriptures alone. They will have to see it, experience it for themselves.
Our testimony is good for sharing what is out there. The Scriptures are the photograph of the who, what, why, when, and how of our LORD; it goes beyond our illustrations, it gives a better understanding. Submitting to Christ and receiving the indwelling of his Holy Spirit is the real thing, however, the full experience that will give complete understanding.
Yes, it would have been nice if my husband had a photograph of the tree for me to see, but he has decided I need to go with him when he returns; so, I can experience it all for myself.
I pray Ephesians 3:14-21:
For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom his whole family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all fullness of God.
Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever! Amen.