By Julia Prins Vanderveen

Revelation 2:7    “To the one who is victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.”

Reading these lines takes us back to the story of Adam and Eve, when they sinned against God and were no longer able to enjoy God’s presence in the garden of paradise. Now we are nearly at the end of this magnificent story of God’s love for his people—and isn’t it amazing that we find the image of the tree of life again?

Even though Genesis and Revela­tion were written by different people many centuries apart, they use the same image of the tree of life. There are two important things about the tree of life as it is pictured here in Revelation: it was an image that powerfully evoked a longing for eternal life and for the experience of deep healing in God’s presence. And the Greek word for “life” here isn’t the word bios, which refers to biological life; it’s the word zoe, which refers to all life—physical and spiritual. The point here that all life has its source in and flows from God. Our Creator allows the fullness of life to flow freely and shares this gift with all people and all creation.

The tree of life pictured here is the culmination of all the hopes and yearnings of God’s people. It is the resolution of all the unfinished stories along the way, the fullness of forgiveness, and the sweetness of the immediate experience of God’s intimate presence.

Lord and God, thank you for your gifts of life and love. Though our stories are not yet finished, we know that in your strength we will overcome every struggle and live with you in eternity. Amen.