I only want to say one thing: I'm grateful. Grateful to God. Just that... only that. The more I walk through life, the more I look back on the things that have occurred from my birth till now, the more I see God's direct hand of involvement in the events of my life. God is now so palpably real to me that His presence feels like "heavy air." (Odd description, I know, but strangely apt at the moment.*)
Yesterday as I transitioned from one job to another, I took a moment to enjoy a cup of coffee on an outdoor patio. I was lost in thought when my eye glanced at a small but vibrant berry-laden tree. I noticed that someone had fashioned the dirt around it so the tree was literally growing from the center of a heart. What a beautiful image! A heart rooted in Christ, like that patch of soil, would sprout life from its center, and such fruit-bearing life would nourish others, pointing them to Christ. Dare I hope for this?
Focus on the soil reminded me of the Parable of the Sower. While it is recorded in all the synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark and Luke), something caught me as I reread Luke's version. Luke 8:15 says, "But the seed on good soil stands for those with a noble and good heart, who hear the word, retain it, and by persevering produce a crop." "...by persevering..." ! The crop (my image of the berry-laden tree) is produced by... persevering. Hearing and retaining the word are necessary, but I must also persevere to produce the desired crop.
In the Parable of the Vine and Branches, Jesus says, "I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." I must persevere at remaining in Christ. I must seek Him through everything life brings, both the good and the bad. Only then will a tree of life with berry-laden branches spring from the soil of my heart. I dare to look forward to that with great anticipation.
God is good.
*After I wrote this, I remembered that CS Lewis described the presence of God in a somewhat similar way in one of his science fiction books, "Out of the Silent Planet."