Trees and the gospel

Published 9:32 am Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Recently hiking the High Bridge Trail, I pondered on the trees, as I frequently do. I recalled the words of Isaiah, who wrote that when the word of God goes forth the trees will clap their hands (55:12), and one of David’s psalms stating that trees will sing in the presence of the Lord (1 Chronicles 16:33).

High Bridge Trail will be a lively place once the trees start clapping and singing!

I noticed that though there are many, each tree is unique, different from all the others in the forest. Some grow defiantly around rocks, while some perch precariously on hillsides. Yet others split and grow in disparate directions, or intertwine with neighboring trees and plants.

The scriptures abound with references to trees. Trees were among the earliest creations (Genesis 1:11), and God used a choice between two trees to teach His children (Genesis 2:9). In the New Testament, Jesus taught that to avoid being cut down and cast in the fire, trees must bring forth good fruit (Matthew 7:19).

Ultimately, Jesus “bare our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24), thus drawing close to the trees at Golgotha and in the Garden of Gethsemane, even in the great sacrificial Atonement performed in our behalf.

Like the trees, each of us is different, a unique child of a Heavenly Father who loves us. Each of us must find our own pathway of faith, as no one size fits all. God has an overarching plan of salvation, even a plan of happiness, but within that framework He allows us to make our own choices and go our own way.

Like the trees, we each develop differently in relation to our environment. Sometimes a rock is in our way, and sometimes we land on a hillside. Will we persist and continue growing in spite of obstacles? Learning to progress and draw closer to God despite challenges is the great adventure of mortality! Each trial we face today prepares us to minister to others tomorrow.

Like the trees, we need water and light. Jesus Christ taught the Samaritan woman: “ … the water that I shall give him shall be in him a well of water springing up into everlasting life” (John 4:14). Jesus provides nourishing life-giving Living Water.

Sister Sharon Eubank, of the Relief Society General Presidency of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, taught: “One of the fundamental needs we have in order to grow is to stay connected to our source of light — Jesus Christ. He is the source of our power, the Light and the Life of the World.”

Jesus Christ, the Light of the World, brings life to the trees and hope to each of us:

“The light of God rests on the face

Of brook and flow’r and tree

And kindles in our happy hearts

The hope of things to be.”

Brent Roberts is the Elders Quorum President in the Sandy River Branch, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, and also Dean of Greenwood Library at Longwood University. He can be reached at brentsroberts@