As I laid in my bed and was disheartened and distressed by the confusion in the world, wondering how people are to find the truth in the religious chaos, I saw the truth as a tree.
God’s truth is like a beautiful tree with fruits of life upon them.
Accessible, inviting, and lovely. Good to look at and good to eat from.
All who ate of this fruit became better people, one with God’s spirit.
But God has an enemy named Satan. Being jealous of God and those who took part in His gifts, he wanted to chop down this tree but God would not allow him. He showed up with an axe, a chainsaw, fire, and whatever else he could think of. But each time God stopped Him. The tree was to stand. God decided that no matter what happens between humans and Satan, or in the land, this tree of truth will stand firm so that man will have a place to approach Him. This way they can be relieved of the chains Satan puts on them, and they can also find healing at all times.
This tree became a great annoyance and a threat to Satan because many people left him to go there. And once they ate from it’s fruits he could control them no more as he had done before. It was a constant reminder that he was not completely in control. This made him obsessed with this tree, and all his thoughts were about the tree and how he could defeat or damage it. Day and night, hour after hour, his anger was directed towards this tree and those approaching it. He thoughts were that he was going to defeat it no matter what, even if it was the very last thing he did, it would be this.
Desperate to prevent people from going to the tree and also being unable to cut the annoyance down, he first removed anything inviting around the tree, causing it to stand in a deserted patch of land. He tore up the flowers, cut down the other trees that gave travelers shade, removed the stairs, and made the hill steep. But the barren land just made the tree look even more beautiful and inviting and drew even more people towards it.
Horrified by having drawn attention to what he initially wanted to destroy, he planted thorny bushes and sharp rocks along the path leading up to it. Happily, he noticed that his efforts finally yielded some results, it did prevent some people from going to the tree. However, many continued to journey towards the tree. He then realized that those who went to the tree were all standing out and were admirable, and God seemed even more pleased with them than ever before. By making the tree look like a less attractive destination, he saw that God achieved something valuable by his opposition. Now the sincere ones were the only ones willing to walk up to the tree and represent it. Satan was left with the self-absorbed lazy people, who were only looking to please themselves as the ones who would not walk among the thorns to get to God’s tree. Those who went up to it did however sometimes carry the weaker ones on their shoulders. This was making the tree and those who went there stand out even more, in character and beauty. Again, the tree just drew even more attention. Satan got increasingly angry with the tree and those that went there. Every minute he thought of this, was torture to him. He was constantly trying to come up with a plan.
To scare off even more people from going Satan placed his workers to abuse and hit the travelers whilst they were traveling. He also caused those who went there to stumble into the thorns so they would get stung by them in the face and everywhere. He heartily enjoyed their screams when the thorns hit a tender spot.
He then started calling them bad names, mocking them, and making them suffer for their decisions. He thought, no one will now want to walk there now. However his plan backfired completely, the bullying and harshness towards the travelers created sympathy for them and many, even among those who would not go themselves, now cried and gave Satan bad looks.
They questioned his behavior and asked why these people are subjected to such horrible treatment only for wanting to approach this tree? Then, even more people started going together with the afflicted travelers in sympathy with the wounded and in resistance to Satan’s workers. Even helping them make the climb up the steep hill. Now, Satan was even losing several of those who he thought he had already won over. The reason for this was because instead of being satisfied with his following and providing for them, he was only focused on the tree and those that went there. He hated the tree and those going there more than he was loving his adorers. Every second his thought dwelt on that tree.
When Satan saw he was losing people, and that the tree appeared just as beautiful as ever no matter what he did, he decided to use an altogether different tactic. This time, he was thinking to himself, he is going to win.
With great effort he starts building a great mound of mud around the hill with the tree, making the mound appear even higher than both the hill and the tree on top of it. He then goes on and plants a forest around the tree, a thick forest. On each tree, he hangs up different fruits, in this way God’s tree would no longer stand out, but just be one tree out of many. He then made the terrain around God’s tree smoothed out and elevated, making God’s tree appear to be placed in a pit. “Going to it will cause you to slide and get hurt”, he thought, “no-one will want to go there anymore.” All the other trees around were the most accessible and demanded less work to approach. He then went ahead to put sharp rocks, moved many ant-hills, and creeping things around God’s tree, like spiders, worms, scorpions, and toads to make it less attractive to approach. As the trees of the forest grew thick, God’s tree of truth became more and more hidden among them. Fewer talked about it, fewer looked for it. And soon, the tree of God had become a myth to many. It did not stand out anymore as it once did, although it stood on a hill still. All the dirt Satan had built up around it made it appear as it wasn’t on a hill anymore. But the dirt around was just dirt, and the hill was still a hill. Only it was hidden to the superficial eye.
As the tree could no longer be seen from the road, many wondered if the myth of the tree was even true anymore. There were sayings and legends about it, but there were a lot of uncertainties. Many were longing for what they had heard that the tree could do; to set them free.
Many people ventured inside the forest in search of it. However, when they came inside they found themselves surrounded by trees with fruits that the devil had planted. They were in all sorts of colors and shapes. And they had all sorts of different tastes since people often liked different flavors. Satan made sure to have trees that represented each of their individual preferences.
Some tried the fruit and did not like it, and they continued until they found a tree that had a fruit that tasted what they liked, and was like what they had imagined God’s truth would taste like. These people are like those people who try different religions or churches until they find one that soothes them and suit their ideas or one where they feel they fit in and then they proclaim it to be the true religion.
Some just tried the fruit that was right there next to them and were satisfied with this fruit and did not seek God’s tree or any other tree. They do not think one should try different trees and fruits and that everyone should eat the fruit closest to them and be happy with that. They are like people who follow God out of tradition. But they are not eating from the right tree, but from a tree pretending to be what it isn’t.
Others felt that if they had tried one fruit, they had probably tried them all. And they ended up not seeking God’s tree. Then they went ahead and proclaimed all threes to be the same. They were the ones who gave up on looking for God’s tree in the forest.
Then there were those who went through the trees and decided that this forest was just nature unfolding itself, that all trees appeared alike and had to have the same origin, and concluded that God’s tree was only a myth. These people are atheists.
Some liberals who saw how hard it was to get to God’s tree and who wanted many to get there decided that God was probably happy with people just seeking a tree that had fruits. For that was what the truth was, a tree with fruits, right? And so they decided that all trees with fruits are the gospel. If they just thanked God for the tree, sang songs of praises underneath it, and repeated “The Lord is God” underneath any of them, the tree would ‘magically’ become God’s tree. So some found one tree, and another found a different tree, and a third one another tree again, and they ate of these trees’ fruits giving thanks to God and praising him, showing everyone outside that approaching Gods ‘tree of truth’ is easy and demands nothing but good faith in God and in the tree you choose. One of them proclaimed with joy after repeated singing: «It works! I am free!». But everyone could see they still had their chains on, but they did not say it out loud and then they just applauded. And they were happy for they believed they were bringing so many people to God’s tree.
Now, the liberals had some contenders. The conservatives, who smirked at the liberals and found them to be quite silly and foolish. They saw the liberal’s chains well, but they did not see their own chains. Yet, the liberals appeared to be happier than them. The conservatives entered the forest, and they were well aware of the devil’s tricks, so they were very careful and went to the entrance of the forest inspecting every tree very carefully. They studied every leaf, branch, and root. Having experience with God’s truth in the past, they trusted they would be able to discern if these trees were actually God’s tree, or if they weren’t. One person inspected one tree and its fruits, another person another tree, and a third person a third tree. They all gathered together and eagerly related to each other the little faults and blemishes they found on the trees and fruits, that revealed that these were in fact not God’s legendary tree of truth. They all, with the Bible in hand, declared the forest itself ‘unclean’ and put up a sign to their fellow conservatives that would walk past there, that the trees had been inspected and was judged to be of the deceiver. They said God would never have his tree of truth located in such a forest. The rumor has it, and might have come from one of the liberals, that some saw them in front of other forests inspecting and putting up signs everywhere.
Now some did actually reach God’s real tree, and this is how it happened. They were brokenhearted and with desperate longing they inspected the trees but continued the search. Easily finding some trees to be phonies but that other were harder to expose. They were praying in front of some of the trees. Not trusting their own discernment, desperate for God to tell them if this was the right tree or not. Yes, even they were confused. Sometimes the devil would place fruits that appealed to their deepest desires on the tree, sometimes the tree even came with a love interest. Constantly, one of Satan’s helpers watched them, ready to pop up in the forest asking them what they were looking for and how they could help guide them to the tree of their desires. Some of them actually stopped desiring to find God’s tree and instead wanted what some of these other trees offered. They are the ones who loved God and His truth but ended up loving the world more. This is why Satan’s workers continued offering the travelers their ‘help’ seeing that it has some success.
However, some continued, not satisfied with anything but God’s tree. One day some of them, confused and tired, actually saw God’s tree standing in what appeared to be a ditch. It was the absolute least approachable tree of them all, and they were really tired and hungry. Then they noticed worms crawling around it and the spiders that had their webs placed in the path in front of it. Some thought that this wasn’t the beautiful place they had imagined it to be and were disappointed. Some even left before trying the fruit because they did not find them appetizing.
They said: “Why should I camp under this tree? It is full of dirt and bugs”, and then they told others on the path that they had seen Gods’ tree and that it was not as beautiful as people had claimed it to be. Many listened and stopped their search. They are the ones who found the truth but were not sanctified by it and continued and walked away from it after finding it.
But one of the people beholding God’s tree encouraged the others, excitedly proclaiming: “Wouldn’t the devil do just such a thing? Hide God’s tree among all of his fake trees and then make God’s tree appear the least attractive of them all?” Hearing this, others approached it and they enjoyed the fruit, and it gave them the life and the truth that they had sought for, and it set them free. Like this, they were joined in communion with their Father and God.
To Satan’s horror, these people that had attained inner joy and renewed strength, went back to tell others about the tree and how it had set them free. Horrified that the tree would be known again the devil sent his workers to scare people from listening to them. This time he did not beat them, knowing that would most likely create sympathy from the others. This time he decided to seemingly look out for them, concerned for their and others well being. Telling them how these people, coming from the tree in the ditch, were placing them in danger. That approaching this tree, which was located in such a complicated position, could wound some people and give them scratches. And what about the poor children? They could be harmed for life with all those poisonous creatures crawling around. He told them it was fanaticism to make the journey when there were better and more safe and approachable trees closer by that they could eat from. He claimed he represented the God of the tree and just wanted to help.
Appearing caring and sincerely concerned, he started blaming the ones who were talking of the tree to those coming out of the forest that had been hurt. He said that they were responsible for the damage of all those other people that were running to and fro in the forest. He even insinuated that they might have been the ones who planted the bugs and the poisonous creatures there. He did all in his power to make them appear as bad people. He even made people think that they were working for the devil himself. He said: “Why are they placing people in danger of being bitten or scratched when God has clearly placed his beautiful trees accessible and easy to reach for anyone?” And him, who was speaking on God’s behalf, why do they not listen to him?
He then created a beautiful mound with flowers on it, then created a beautiful looking tree surrounded by gold and silver, and lamps so it could be seen in the dark as well as day. It brought the attention of many. It was far more attractive than the thick forest. Like this, he made many believe that the least approachable tree had to be the one of the devil, and the ones in the outskirts, and especially the one on the flowery hill had to be the one of God.
“For,” he reasoned, “is not God’s truth simple and beautiful?” He then offered to take the lead in the chaos, to organize, so that people can safely and orderly go to the tree he had planted on his dirt hill, and to worship there and eat there. He even appointed some as tour guides to help the weak and the confused find their way to his tree. This way he could assure that no one get hurt and that no one was left behind. Because of the multitudes there, the temporary joy and peace, in the excitement, many did imagine that they felt somewhat free after eating from the fruit on the dirt hill. They took this feeling as a sign that this really was God’s tree of truth that they had heard could liberate people. Many started applauding Satan for his goodness and kindness. And proclaimed; “Surely this is a man of God who cares so dearly for our well being, making the road to the tree broad and wide?” As a result, many became angry with the ones who came back from finding God’s real tree of truth and saw them as troublemakers that were only causing harm and confusion.
Now, in this story as in the real world, God’s tree of truth never changed, it never moved, it never offered a different type of fruit to fit in or to compete with its surroundings. In reality, it was still as accessible and beautiful as it ever was. But as the world changed around it, it was viewed differently by the people seeing it. The only thing that had made it look complicated, ordinary, and dangerous was the devil’s tricks. The tree still set people free and gave them life.
And one day in the future, in this story, a flood will destroy the dirt hills and make them into a plain again, and crush all the other trees planted by Satan on the same dirt hills. Then it will be visible to all, that God’s tree is still standing on its hill in all its glory, and that these other trees were in fact standing on loose ground. Then God’s tree will again regain its beautiful surroundings, and the land will be healed.