As I have mentioned several times recently, including yesterday, my wife and I spent the day in Tolono, IL recording vocals for my musical side-project called Godspeed, St. Mark. It was yet another long and fruitful day. I need to say up front that without my wife, my music would be pretty much solid garbage. Her voice enhances what I write, and is literally the perfect compliment to my voice. We were made to sing together, and this was evidenced in full force today in Tolono. Not to worry, soon enough you will get a taste of what we have created together with friends.
A couple weeks back, I mentioned that I met with the recording engineer to talk about this project. In that meeting, I was awkward and apologetic about the nature of this recording project. Tonight, while we were working on rough mixes of the songs, I was dragging. I almost fell asleep at the sound board. As we worked on one of my songs, The Tree of Knowledge, Death, & Life, something awoke in me.
I remembered why I am doing this.
I remembered my passion.
I remembered that this project is more than just music…it’s an opportunity to teach.
I started talking with Jeff, the recording engineer (not myself), about why this song is so important. I told him about the grand narrative of the Scriptures, about the myths that bracket our story involving two trees: The tree of knowledge of good and evil, and the tree of life. I told him that there are actually two trees in the first story – the aforementioned trees (it’s true, look at Genesis 1-3). The first humans ate of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, and God banished them from the garden so that they wouldn’t eat of the tree of life and live forever in their brokenness. I told Jeff that God is the primary actor in this story, working on behalf of humanity to keep us from forever living in our broken state and purposing in the end to set everything to right.
This is where the tree of life shows up again, at the end of the story. Here, the leaves of the tree are for the healing of the nations (Revelation 22). The very tree of life that begins our story also ends it. And in the end, that tree heals everyone and everything. All things are reconciled to God, all things are redeemed, all things are set to right again. No more brokenness. No more sorrow. No more pain. That’s where we are headed.
In the middle of the story, there’s another tree: the tree of death, the one on which Jesus gave his life over to death in order to bring life to this world. I told Jeff that the story we find ourselves in is lived between these trees, and that, in the end, as the story goes, restoration happens through the death and resurrection of Jesus. That’s what the song is about.
Jeff said he had never heard of the tree of life outside of the movie The Tree of Life. He said he had no idea that it was a Scriptural idea. I told him that I didn’t know much about it until about three years ago. The fact is, most of us miss this part of the story, which indeed is the point of it all. God is working in this world to repair what is broken. The best part is, we get to play a part. In Psalm 1, the writer says that we become like trees when we are connected to the life of God, bringing life to this world. I wrote a song about that one too – Trees That Bring Life to This World Without End.
I was one of those trees today.
I spoke words that bring life.
And I woke up. It’s amazing what remembering what this whole thing is about can not only change my perspective, but also can re-enliven me to my purpose in life: To be a tree that brings life to this world without end. Amen.