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Created to Glorify the Creator

April 01, 2015

Trees give insight into what God desires from His people.

By Catey Hinkle

Outside my office window stand two tall leafy green trees. On many occasions I’ve caught a glimpse of the branches blowing in the wind and have been captivated by their beauty. Something about their lush leaves and vivid colors captures my attention. It’s the same feeling I get when the clouds break and I see Mt. Hood towering over the valley, or when I watch the sun set in brilliant shades of orange and red. In one sense, these things are so common—Mt. Hood has looked the same my whole life; the sun sets every single night; and trees like the ones by my window exist all over my city. Yet somehow, the everyday sights of Creation are extraordinary.

God’s “paintings” are not in two dimensions or even three; His artwork is alive. It breathes and grows, changes over time, and reveals not only layers of beauty but also of wisdom and truth.

Walking around my neighborhood one day, the thought occurred to me that all of nature is like God’s canvas. However, God’s “paintings” are not in two dimensions or even three; His artwork is alive. It breathes and grows, changes over time, and reveals not only layers of beauty but also of wisdom and truth. I began to realize that the reason the trees by my office are so captivating is not their size, color, or any other physical aspect, but the fact that everything about them points to God, the One who designed them. Though the trees have no audible voice, their beauty speaks of Him who is altogether lovely. Their peaceful presence reminds us of the Prince of Peace. They offer shade and shelter because God cares about giving a resting place, and their fruit is nutritious because He knows and provides for our needs. By simply being what God created them to be, the trees by my window offer unceasing testimony to who God is, glorifying Him in a powerful way. They, and all of Creation, are captivating because they are a reflection of God.

The Artist who spoke the earth into existence is the same One who made me and you and everyone else on earth.

It is amazing to think that the God who created these trees also created Catey Hinkle. The Artist who spoke the earth into existence is the same One who made me and you and everyone else on earth. Observing the rest of Creation gives insight into what God desires for us. We can see that nothing in Creation was made poorly; God made everything to flourish, to be a blessing, and to glorify Him. That is His intention for us, too. However, one way we differ from the rest of Creation is that we are given a free will. So what the trees do by compulsion, we are meant to do by choice.

Recently I came across a verse that took on new meaning as I thought about how trees glorify God. Isaiah 61:3 is a prophesy foretelling that when Jesus came to earth He would “appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.” Jesus came to redeem repentant sinners and to restore their fallen nature. After He has done that for us, God says we are like trees of righteousness, planted by Him to glorify Him. If we want our lives to glorify God, we can learn a lot from trees. Here are a few lessons that especially stand out to me.

Rooted in love. A tree’s roots anchor it and also store and conduct water and nourishment. Without this foundation, a tree is more susceptible to becoming diseased or toppling over in a storm. Thus, a strong root system is essential for a tree to fulfill its purpose.

As trees of righteousness, roots are critical for us too. Our faith will not withstand the trials of life without having spiritual roots to hold us steady. Ephesians 3:17 says we are to be “rooted and grounded in love.” We become rooted in love as we develop a deep love for God and for others, as well as a good understanding of God’s love for all of mankind and ourselves specifically. These foundational principles must be firmly in place for us to fulfill God’s will for our lives.

Every new thing we learn about Him is a reason to love Him more.

How can we develop stronger roots in love? I’ve found that the more I know God, the more I love Him. This is because every new thing we learn about Him is a reason to love Him more. We learn about God by seeking Him in prayer and studying his Word. And as we get to know Him, we see how much He loves us—much more than we expect! Understanding that profound love enables us to trust Him fully, removes any fear of following Him, and allows us to experience true liberty in living for Him. As we learn more about God we also see that He deeply loves all of humanity, and drawing close to Him will cause us to love others as well. Being rooted and grounded in love in these ways allows our lives to grow in a manner that glorifies Him.

Fruit that is sweet. When I think about why trees are good, the first thing that comes to my mind is their fruit. Peaches, apricots, cherries...there are far too many to mention. Fruit is necessary because of its nutrition; the calories give us energy, vitamins and minerals keep us healthy, and antioxidants fight disease. But even if fruit were not necessary, we would all still love it because it is delicious! Fruit is just one way that a tree can glorify God, showing His goodness in providing for our physical needs and His kindness in making it so tasty.

We, too, can show God’s goodness and kindness by meeting the needs of others. Just as there are many types of fruit, God gives a variety of talents and abilities, and all of them can be used to benefit others. One person might be musically gifted, another one has a knack for making people laugh, and someone else has technical skills. All of us can pray. God desires that every talent and ability He gives would be a blessing. No matter how small or common they may seem, they can be offered to others.

In my own life, God has given me the opportunity to learn Spanish and I consider translating to be a type of “fruit” I can offer others. Physical fruit is best when it is sweet; not bitter, bland, or rotten. Likewise, when I translate for others, the encounter should never be unpleasant. I want God’s love and goodness to pour out of my actions and attitude so that the experience is sweet. This is glorifying to God.

Every leaf and twig matters. Leaves are amazing in their own right. Every day, while trillions of leaves around the world photosynthesize carbon dioxide into oxygen, they silently testify over and over to God’s creative genius. He designed photosynthesis, and all the other brilliant systems of the universe, in an instant. Twigs are young shoots that are initially bare but in the future will be productive. They are not usually what catch our eye about trees, but the new growth is critical to its continuance. Thus, not a single aspect of the tree fails to glorify God—even the twigs have something good to say about Him.

Every part of my life and everything I do, whether in ministry or just the normal things of life, can reflect my awesome Creator and bring pleasure to Him.

I used to think that only obvious acts of ministry were glorifying to God, but I’ve realized that is not the case. Like the twigs of a tree, even small acts that usually go unnoticed are significant to the overall picture, and in their own way testify to who God is. For example, I like to bake. That doesn’t seem particularly “holy,” yet the joy I get from baking reveals something important about our Creator: He delights in seeing us joyful. I have three nieces whom I love immensely; when I spend time with them, it is a reflection of His love. When I clean my house, it shows that I appreciate and take care of the things God has given me. Every part of my life and everything I do, whether in ministry or just the normal things of life, can reflect my awesome Creator and bring pleasure to Him.

The whole picture. There are many individual aspects of trees that we can identify as glorifying to God, yet my mind keeps going back to what first caught my attention—the overall picture that is breathtaking. The tree is simply doing what God created it to do, which is so beautiful and so perfect that it compels people to consider Who created it.

No matter what season of life, I want every part of my life to be a ceaseless testimony to who God is.

Along with the rest of Creation, I want my life to glorify God in a way that is stunning. Trees must obey God because they have no free will. But my desire is to choose His will in everything I do, so the end result will be a life that only God could have designed. I want to be the tree described in Jeremiah 17:7-8, “Blessed is the man that trusteth in the Lord, and whose hope the Lord is. For he shall be as a tree planted by the waters, and that spreadeth out her roots by the river, and shall not see when heat cometh, but her leaf shall be green; and shall not be careful in the year of drought, neither shall cease from yielding fruit.” No matter what season of life, I want every part of my life to be a ceaseless testimony to who God is.

As beautiful as the Creation is, God desires something even better for our lives. The more we choose His ways, the more His beauty will shine through us. Imagine the possibilities if we give Him full control! Our lives would continually reflect God’s goodness and love, pointing the world to Him as the Author of it all. This is God’s desire for us—that we “might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”

About the author

Catey Hinkle is Managing Editor at the Apostolic Faith headquarters office in Portland, Oregon.