J-P spoke tonight about life as a forest, looking at what we have inherited and what we pass on to the next generations. Deforestation is a big topic these days and we often think about the effects of cutting down trees on our environment and how trees are part of the chain of life. Adam and Eve started life in a garden which they failed to maintain because of their sin. We too need to think about how we are living and what kind of ‘forest’ we are passing on to our children.
Spiritually speaking, we may think about the forest we have inherited in different ways. We might feel our lives have trees of love, knowledge, wisdom, prayer, praise, forgiveness and protection and are grateful for the legacy handed down to us, but others may feel they have inherited only trees of shame, mistreatment and intolerance and have no good examples to follow. Josiah, one of the kings of Judah, did not have a good heritage in that his grandfather (Manasseh) was a murderer who led people into idolatry and his father (Amon) was also an idolater. Nonetheless, Josiah, from a young age, resolved to do what was right: ‘He did what was right in the eyes of the Lord and followed completely the ways of his father David, not turning aside to the right or to the left.‘ (2 Kings 22:2)
We may not have inherited a good ‘forest’, but we can break the chains of the past, for we can refuse to let our pasts define us and only be defined by our identity as God’s children. Josiah chose to follow the example of David rather than of his father or grandfather. He devoted himself to reforming his nation, tearing down the altars built to Baal and the Asherah poles and reforming the religious worship. We too can break free from the chains of the past, for we are no longer slaves to sin but are God’s children (Gal 4:7). We can choose to follow God’s example (see Eph 5:1) and can walk with Him in the silence of the forest, listening to HIs voice and enjoying fellowship with Him (as Adam did originally in the Garden of Eden.) If we do this, we can then follow God’s purposes for our lives and can plant trees of love, peace, knowledge and wisdom from which our children can learn. Our trees can be fed by the water of God and we can cultivate forests which will last for future generations.