Look and Live…
We are deep in spring and summer is coming fast. The time for planting tender things in the ground to grow into great trees and vines is passing quickly with the onset of warmer weather. Yet it is not too late if you are willing to put in the time, make sure young plants receive water, and are not exposed to direct sunlight for too many hours in a single day before they take root and become strong and resilient. There is a certain faith one must have, with good works performed, to see through the planting, growth and maturing of any living thing.
This last week Monica, our girls and I, planted a row of grapevines in our small orchard along a short stone wall just a couple of hundred feet from our home. We had over the months before prepared the ground, installed the posts and wire for trellising, and laid irrigation so that all would be ready for the tender table grape vines we would put in the ground. We planted in cool weather, in the late afternoon when the sun had dropped in the sky, so that the plants would not go through too much stress in removal from their small pots and introduction to earth.
In what would appear to be an act of faith indeed, we knelt down in the soil, much in the posture of prayer, and lowered the roots of the vines into the prepared ground, carefully adding soil as needed, that the vine might stand and reach upward to the trellis wires. The vines reach upward because they are seeking the sun to provide the catalyst for photosynthesis. As they reach taller and taller, more of their leaves become exposed to the light, and ultimately become fruitful and fulfill the full measure of their creation, producing delicious sweet grapes. It takes that act of faith and effort, my girls and I kneeling on the ground, putting our hands in the dirt, and placing the vine so that it may reach upward, look to the light with its broad leaves, and receive all the sun it needs to live.
It is important that we have faith, act in obedience, kneel in humility, and look to the Savior for life.
During the 40 years of wandering done by the children of Israel in the wilderness, they tried the Lord sorely with their disobedience, lack of faith, and unwillingness to look to Him. At one point they were complaining so much about their circumstances, having been delivered from servitude in Egypt, and given all that they needed to survive and thrive, that a curse was set upon them and fiery serpents invaded their camp. All who were bitten would die. Some repented and sought for Moses to ask the Lord for relief.
“And the Lord said unto Moses, ‘Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live.’ And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived” (Numbers 21:8-9).
Moses placed the brazen serpent on a staff as instructed and lifted it in the air so that all could see, all could look up and behold the symbol, if they would but look. The brazen serpent symbol was representative of the Savior Jesus Christ who would be lifted on a cross, for all to see, and to save all.
Many of the Israelites looked and lived, but some thought it too simple a thing, “How could looking at a brazen serpent on the end of a staff save one from poisoning?” So they did not look and they did not live. A simple thing, but they just did not have the faith, nor the willingness to act. How many, like some of the children of Israel in the days of Moses, will not look to the Savior, not follow Him, and will not live?
As this morning, Monica, my daughters, my grandchildren and I, picked cherries in the shade of tall mature trees that my sons and daughters with me planted twelve years ago, kneeling in the soil and nurturing those tender saplings to reach heavenward and receive all the light needed to grow, I could not help but think of that act of faith and works that brought forth the bounty we are enjoying today. So shall grapes be harvested by us, our children, and the children of our sons and daughters, from the vines we planted last week, in the many years that come.
May we take faith, humbly kneeling, and do all that is required, good works performed, that we might plant for the fruits of our future, guiding all we nourish to the light that shines upon all who seek. May we follow prophets who have spoken of Christ through the ages and even unto this day, by the mouth of God, that we might look to the Savior and find healing in His gaze. Let us look to the Lord and live. In the name of our Redeemer, even Jesus Christ, amen.