Evergreen Life

Evergreen Life

I Have No Idea What This Vision Means!

Last week I mentioned the pine cone vision. As I was praying one night, I saw a mental picture of myself reaching in a paper bag, pulling out a pine cone, and giving it to my wife.

Not everything we may see on the screen of our mind is God speaking to us. Yet I’ve learned that God does often speak in this way. I’ve had some amazing experiences where God showed me things I couldn’t have known naturally through an image in my mind. Once I saw a rainbow-colored angel with my natural eyes. It’s really cool to see a vision with your natural eyes, but the fact that a vision is more subtle doesn’t mean it is less accurate or detailed. In fact, it can sometimes be even more so.

I was pretty sure that this picture of handing my wife a pine cone was a vision from God. I just had no idea what it meant!

I looked up “pine cone symbolism” on the internet. I found all kinds of occultic meanings related to Eastern religions, the staff of Osiris, and other things I want nothing to do with! I didn’t realize how heavily the occult used pine cones as a symbol! Frustrated and a bit bothered by all the occult stuff, I decided to pray about it more and I asked some Christian friends for their thoughts.

Evergreen Life

I soon learned that the pine cone was also an early Christian symbol—for eternal life. The first scripture I think of when I think of eternal life is John 17:3

John 17:3 (NRSV) And this is eternal life, that they may know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

The Bible tells us we are to “grow in the knowledge of God.” This admonition combined with John 17:3 tells me that eternal life starts now—not after we die. As we grow in the knowledge of God we will manifest eternal life on this earth and in this life.

As I was meditating on that, I came across a related question on Quora. The question was “Why is the Christian conception of the afterlife spoken of as “eternal life” as opposed to “immortal life”?” 

I thought of the pine tree. An evergreen tree is green and thrives in every season. Psalm 1 says that the person who delights in God’s law is like a tree whose leaf does not wither. Psalm 92:12 says that The righteous flourish like the palm tree, and grow like a cedar in Lebanon.” Palms and cedars are both evergreen trees! “Evergreen life” isn’t determined by outside circumstances or the weather at the moment.

Quoting from my answer on Quora: A person who knows God can have joy and be full of life no matter what the season. “Eternal life” is immortality, but it is more than that. It is also “Evergreen life.”

Of course, we all know Christians who don’t demonstrate joy in every season. But the Bible says we are “growing in the knowledge of God.” (2 Peter 3:18) That joy in every season doesn’t happen automatically, but it is something we can grow into experiencing as we get to know God.

I do know people who demonstrate this “evergreen life.” Whatever is going on all around them doesn’t change their joy, their life, or who they are. They walk in love in every circumstance.

The story of Betsy Ten Boom in prison and in a concentration camp is a great example of a Christian demonstrating “evergreen life” in this life.

The Trial Reveals The Life Of Christ In You!

As I was meditating on this, one of my friends noted that a pine cone contains one of the few seeds that require extreme heat to be released. Fire opens pine cones, releasing the seeds. My friend asked if we were facing trials. I said “Yes!” 

I started reading about it and learned that some pine cones only release their seeds in fire. Others eventually release their seeds when they dry, but fire releases them more quickly.

Like some other seeds, pine nuts also require a stratification process of passing through a cold winter period before they will germinate.

If you are born again, God’s seed is in you. That seed contains everything that’s in God’s DNA. It contains the glory and nature of Christ. But the life in that seed isn’t fully evident to everybody immediately. It sprouts and grows.

It’s often trials that make this evergreen God-life so evident in our lives. These trials reveal what’s really inside of us.

As a teenager, I read stories of Christians facing torture and heavy persecution. I wanted to follow Christ even if it came to that, but I felt like I wasn’t sure if I could continue under the circumstances those Christians faced.

Then in Brazil, I heard of a criminal’s threat to kidnap my daughter. Things got so dangerous I sometimes wondered if we would live. It was a hard time. But I found the life of Jesus manifesting through my life. I found that Jesus living in me can love when I can’t. I experienced God’s “evergreen life.”

Consider the following scriptures about God’s life being revealed through trials:

1 Peter 1:23 (NRSV) You have been born anew, not of perishable but of imperishable seed, through the living and enduring word of God.

John 12:24 (NRSV) Very truly, I tell you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains just a single grain; but if it dies, it bears much fruit.

1 Peter 1:3-7 (NRSV) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By his great mercy he has given us a new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, who are being protected by the power of God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. In this you rejoice,  even if now for a little while you have had to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith—being more precious than gold that, though perishable, is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor when Jesus Christ is revealed.

Romans 5:3-5 (NRSV) And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.

Suffering And Glory!

 This vision was a tremendous encouragement to me. I expect to see Christ’s life manifest like never before in my wife’s life—and in my life—as we face testing and pressure. It’s beautiful to see a person demonstrating God’s “evergreen life.” Others wonder how they can have such joy that no circumstances can change. It makes them want the same life.
The Biblical teaching about suffering according to God’s will has often been so perverted. On one hand, some teach that God controls everything so we should just lie down passively and accept whatever evils come our way. The Bible says we should resist the devil who comes to steal, kill, and destroy. It tells us that God always has victory in store for us. Suffering according to God’s will is simply what we experience as we live in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation. People misunderstand us, mistreat us, and wrong us, but we continue to walk in love and shine God’s light.

On the other hand, others overreact to this error by responding with anger at any mention of “suffering according to God’s will.” Yet what the Bible teaches about suffering according to God’s will is incredibly encouraging and full of glory! We need to better understand what the Bible teaches about suffering rather than throwing out this truth. When we suffer according to God’s will, we rejoice, because the Spirit of glory and of God rests on us. 

Romans 8:17 (NRSV) …and if children, then heirs, heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ—if, in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him.

Suffering according to God’s will isn’t sickness or accepting defeat. For a better Biblical understanding of suffering according to God’s will, I recommend reading Part 1 and Part 2 on Paul’s thorn in the flesh.

A common criticism of healing ministry is that it denies Biblical suffering. Nothing could be further from the truth! Next week we’ll look at why understanding God’s will to heal leads us into suffering according to God’s will, rather than denying it.

 If you liked this post, you may want to check out my Heaven Now book trilogy. This series teaches how to experience heaven’s reality and walk as a heavenly person at all times, regardless of circumstances.  It’s also filled with testimonies of what happened when I put these powerful truths into practice. I’m sure these books will encourage you and help you to make everything around you like heaven. Not only that, but your purchase supports our missionary work in Brazil and in every other place we go!

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