The sun burns mounds of desert dust into swirls of traveling sand. Like a light brown veil it falls over my eyes, blinding, stinging, an angry massive mist of grief. Tiny specks of sense-dulling unbelief.
Trapped am I like a well-preserved carcass in an hourglass coffin, swept by winds of change - dreaded hairspray solutions saturating the air with strange perfume. Within the veil shrieks from the gale promise much but end in wispy whispers. Strange forms lacking substance. Clouds without rain.
The sand sculpture that is my life begins to crumble, and I with it.
In former days I called this sand a party. We held it at the foot of Candied mountain. Sinking my teeth into loaves of sweet bread at the Hard Rock cafe, I sipped the red hot dew of forbidden mystery. And the rest was history. Youthful years faded into a desert tomb.
There fell my soul, dark as coal, bits of semi-sweet turned bitter.
"Another round, Sandy!"
The scarlet lady spins around, her purple lips burning, a tray of beer teetering in one hand, in the other a plate of chocolate chip cookies laced with crack.
Within my mouth the grainy dessert treats crumbled into pieces. No matter how much liquor I imbibed to wash them down, they coated my tongue, sifting my senses like whole wheat flour, shattering my will and my nerves, melting my equilibrium into an 'e' quill of 'librium.' What sort of word is that? you ask. How should I know? It's only death warmed over. Try it, you'll hate it. Round about it goes, returning like a comet to oblivion...
Until at last the world with all its pretty pills, making me feverish with chills, dried up all my bones so that scarce a shred of skin hung stiff upon them.
"Another stiff one?" she asks.
"Not necessary," murmur I through chapped lips, and leave the self-styled restaurant. That's where I find myself right now, hitchhiking the Nowhere Road, the storm raging savagely around me.
Towers of religious self-righteousness and hypocrisy tumble down upon me, burying my withered frame beneath a wall of stone too thick for a molecule of oxygen to penetrate.
Parched as the desert sands, dare to reach a mustard branch of faith toward the wall, crying with fading breath, "God save me now from certain death!"
I'm at the end of hope when suddenly the earth begins to tremble. A sliver of white light pierces the darkness. Out of the corner of my eye I spot an opening in the wall. I crawl towards the crack and squeeze through into daylight.
The dust has settled. My ears tingle, and I hear a bubbling sound. I look ahead, to my right and to my left. percolating water. Puzzled, I turn back toward the path I once rejected as a youth.
Five yards away stands a tree surrounded by a pool of moving water. From whence this tree came I know not. All I know is thirst. That I must drink. And so I dive into the pool (it's deeper than I thought) and gulp down water to my heart's content.
When I am finished swimming, I reach up a hand and take one of the fruit that hang like droplets from the branches. It tastes like liquid joy, a rainbow of delight. I bite into a leaf and find my strength renewed.
I am satisfied and I am clean. I cannot explain the mystery of this wonderful tree, except to say that "he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground..." (Isaiah 53:2)
Out of the very same dust from which man was formed and to which his body does return shoots a plant needing no moisture of its own, for it provides the rain. Whoever heard of such a thing? It is a miracle indeed!
That miracle is Jesus, the one known as Emmanuel, meaning GOD WITH US. Into our cursed, dry, dusty, withered old dead world He came, growing like a plant - a plant that provides us with everything we need to live, not only in this world, but throughout all eternity: water, oxygen, food, and healing.
Without Him we are dry as dust. But the moisture of His Word, like rain and snow falling from heaven, accomplishes the purpose for which He sent it. (Isaiah 55:10-11) He is the living water that invites us come to Him, and drink in everlasting life which quenches all our thirst (John 4:14).
Acts 17:28. Like a plant He takes the soot of our sin and the carbon dioxide of our exhaustion, mixes them with water, and releases to us the living oxygen of who He is. Every day He bids us cast our heavy loads on Him, so that we can breathe again.
For sustenance He is the bread of life, of which a person may eat and not die. (John 6:51)
His leaves are for the healing of all peoples that put their trust in Him (Revelation 22:2). He is the cure for every thorn, thistle, or bitter herb brought forth from the ground God cursed so long ago. (Genesis 3:18)
Oh what great drops of blood He sweat while toiling among thistles in Gethsemane! What bullish horns pricked his head with thorns as He turned the other cheek to those who plucked out His beard! (Psalm 22:12; Isaiah 50:6) Oh what bitter herbs they fed him from the cursed ground! Adam's toil cannot compare to Christ's labor of love as he, by dying on a tree, became a curse for us (Deuteronomy 21:23; Galatians 3:13).
Creation day three (Genesis 1:9-13) foreshadowed Jesus' death and resurrection. For when God parted the waters, the dry land (symbolizing the cross) appeared. That cross is the tree from which all seed-bearing plants do spring. Think about it!
(John 12:24). Jesus, God's Word made flesh (John 1:1), is the seed that was buried in the dry ground. Like a root out of dry ground, He rose from the dead to provide eternal life for all that believe.
The water dripping from this tree quenches the drinker's thirst. Eating the fruit from His tree (by abiding in Him) brings lasting satisfaction (John 15:5). The leaves of this tree cure every sickness and disease (Revelation 22:2).