Unless…

Unless…

Dan Wolgemuth


Over the past 14 years, Mary and I have watched the beautiful pine forests of Colorado succumb to the onslaught of Mountain Pine Beetle and Spruce Beetle. Hundreds of thousands of acres have been impacted. Vibrant, year round green, gives way to yellowing needles, then a season of lifeless grey…and finally dead branches lose their grip and the needles fall.  At that point only a skeleton remains.

We have whined and complained about the diminishing mountain beauty, all the while wondering when and if there would be an answer.

Then, a few days ago, I saw the answer.

A drive into Rocky Mountain National Park and a hike to Bierstadt Lake and in an act of sovereign beauty, the Creator pulled back the curtain. I was a student in the classroom of the King. And in this classroom I felt like a middle-schooler in a PhD class.

It was on this beautiful hike that Mary pointed out the vast number of new pine trees that are flourishing under the canopy of death. Lifeless pine trees become landmarks for vibrant new understudies that are now up to six feet tall.

Dead pine trees no longer obscure the light…and in the unconstrained light, with soft decay as a stage, seeds sprout and trunks form, and growth thrives.

Death doesn’t have the final word. Not in the forest, and not with human beings.

Whether it’s a Mountain Pine Beetle, or a cancer diagnosis…death isn’t the final chapter.

Most assuredly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the ground and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it produces much grain. He who loves his life will lose it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life. (John 12:24-25, NKJV)

Unless. Without the death of a pine tree, ten more wouldn’t prosper. Without the death of Moses, Joshua doesn’t lead.

And of course…without the death of Jesus, we are crushed under the righteous weight of judgment.

A walk in the woods. A revelation.

When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
              “Death is swallowed up in victory.”
              “O death, where is your victory?
                            O death, where is your sting?” (1 Corinthians 15:54–55, ESV)

In the shadow of death…new life.

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