Proverbs 3

The metaphor in Proverbs 3 that has really caught my attention this week is verse 18:

"She [wisdom] is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed."
It's autumn in the Upstate, and the trees are absolutely beautiful! I could go off on that beauty actually being because of the loss of oxygen (or whatever), and that the reality is that the leaves are dying, preparing to fall to the ground and be crunched about upon, or bagged and composted, or left and buried beneath snow (if we're lucky). And you could say that's morbid. Maybe it is. But I could come back that without death, there's no life, which is a rich spiritual reality, and we could go on discussing deeper theology. 

A similar discussion came up recently in my sister's 2nd Grade Sunday School Class. They got a little deeper into the chemistry of it all, as evidenced by her chalkboard drawing, copied here:

But I've chosen to go a slightly different route. 

As I've thought about this verse, the "tree of life" actually brought to mind a tree in Narnia. Digory (who grows up to be the professor in The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe) brings back a piece of fruit from Narnia's "tree of life" to give to his mother (who is basically terminally ill) with hopes of her recovering. 

His obedience and faith are both tested in the process of acquiring the fruit. 

In the end, his mother is miraculously healed, he plants a seed from the fruit in the backyard, and eventually he turns the wood from the felled tree into a wardrobe (which four children years later discover the magic to). 

First edition cover, 1955, Wikipedia image.
C.S. Lewis crafted a beautiful beginning to his Chronicles of Narnia in The Magician's Nephew. I've so enjoyed listening to it over the past few days (and, yes, this is where the photo spoof featuring Mark emerged from). It's been so much fun reflecting on the wonder of the creation of a new world. What a beautiful semi-allegory of the beginning of our world in the garden of God. 

Wisdom, like the fruit from the tree in Narnia, takes faith and obedience to acquire; but in the end, she brings the best of all this world ... and eternity ... can offer.

In his commentary on Proverbs, Pete Steveson (whom my kids actually call Grampa Pete because his wife was my mentor-mom at our local church) points out how we first see the "tree of life" in Scripture in Genesis 2 and 3, then see it again in Proverbs (here in chapter 3 as well as chapter 11, 13, and 15), and then we see it once again in Revelation 2 and 22. Grampa Pete points out the symbolism for "eternal life" in the Genesis and Revelation references, and applies the same symbolism here. 

Derek Kidner discusses the "tree" and the "fountain of life" together, and writes: 
"This tree or fountain symbolizes the blessings of a right relationship with God.... The Old Testament affirms that what was lost with Paradise and waits to be regained can be enjoyed in some measure here and now when man walks with God." 
Truth Talk Talking Points: 
  • Start simple. Ask, "what is a tree?" and see what your kid can tell you. (I asked Micah that this afternoon, and he gave a pretty good definition about it being a large plant that may give us fruit or flowers or maybe just leaves and shade; and then happily listed a few specific varieties he knew the names for. He is no longer perplexed by my random questions.) You may be surprised what your kids' answers are and how much they like sharing what they know!
  • Then, if your kids are nuts about Narnia the way mine are, talk about the "tree of life/youth" in The Magician's Nephew. The Focus on the Family Radio Theatre production is fabulous!
  • Now read Proverbs 3:18 together: 
"She [wisdom] is a tree of life to those who lay hold of her; those who hold her fast are called blessed."
  • Remind them of vocabulary: "blessed" basically means "completely happy!" To "lay hold of" or "hold fast" basically means "to grasp and not let go of": they've probably heard the expression (or used it at school): "Oh, I get it!" or "I've got it." It's that sort of idea. You're not grasping onto wisdom like holding onto a tree branch trying not to fall, and yet in a way you are. Though remember that with wisdom, the key is not just knowing it in your head; it's applying it, living it out!
  • Now you're ready to talk about how we get wisdom: reading the Word, listening to our parents, teachers, pastors, etc.
  • Talk about the blessings that grow out of that: the "tree of life" that is your reward.
Craft Idea: 
For a final craft, make a tree out of cut or torn construction paper. On each of the leaves or on pieces of paper fruit or flowers glued onto the tree, write blessings that are yours when you grasp hold of God's wisdom and don't let go of it. (I'd love to have you post a picture of your kid's tree.)

I hope this post has given you inspiration to go talk with your kids. Yes, rabbit trails are great. Just make sure you do come back to the Word, for that is where we get Wisdom. And with Wisdom, there is great reward. Hang on tight! 

Now go have fun talking with your kids!

michelle


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