When you are marked

Mark the trees and count the chariots.

The Lord told a friend this in prayer.

So what does it mean? We all pondered together in the prayer group.

Trees usually mean people, the pastor said. Jesus prayed for the blind man and he saw people “walking around like trees.” He prayed again, and the man’s sight came clear.

Isaiah 61 says we are “oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of His splendor.”

Thinking of trees put me in mind of a special tree, which had inspired me to write a poem. It begins with: The lightning struck tree stands tall.

The tree was struck by lightning, which jumped next to a wire fence at the trunk, travelled along the wire and split fence rails on either side. The tree stood marked, but tall, limbs raised, leaves waving.

That tree put me in mind of a woman I know who came down with terminal lung cancer even though she never smoked. She praised God in the midst of her trial. It put me in mind of friends, whose 20-year-old daughter was killed with two friends in a freak car accident. At the funeral, they sang “You give and you take away, blessed be the name of the Lord” and they raised their hands in praise.

All around us are people, like trees, marked by loss, by suffering, even catastrophe, yet they like Job will continue to serve the Lord.  Some are marked and stand tall, with scars they become beautifully unique, a testimony of endurance rooted in hope.

Just recently, in the pasture next to the lightening tree, a windstorm blew down another tree. It lies uprooted and broken, surrendered, its leaves drying and curling in death.

Some are marked and choose disappointment over hope. They do not rise again.

The book of Chronicles tells us that the eyes of the Lord roam the Earth to strengthen those who are committed to him, a heart that will praise like Job and say Even though He slay me, yet will I hope in Him, or like the three Jews of Daniel 3 who were thrown into the fiery furnace, because they would not bow to Nebuchadnezzar’s gold statue.

Going in they said: Even if he doesn’t save us, we won’t worship another.

And then that fourth man was seen walking amid the flames, and they came out alive.

Have you been marked? Are you still standing?

Are your hands reaching out for the God who saves?

When Elisha’s servant opened his eyes, he could see the chariots of fire all around him.

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