An Olive Branch
A symbol of hope in a hopeless place

Sometimes I have to shake my head. I know that God is good. I know that the righteousness of the Lord will prevail. But I look at what is happening in the world. There is hunger. There is suffering. There is war. There is death. Yet here I sit. Typing a page for you to read. And there you sit, reading it. I have to shake my head.

I have a pen and pencil set sitting on my desk. It is a lovely set. High quality mechanisms. Shiny gold accents. The clips even have crosses on them to remind me of my Savior. But those don't really catch my attention. Instead, I am drawn to the material that they are made of. They are made of wood. And not just any wood. Olive wood. And not just any olive wood. This is olive wood from trees in the town of Bethlehem. Trees that have been pruned and trimmed. Trees that have been cared for in a land where there are people who need to be cared for. I have to shake my head.

There is a "Certificate of Authenticity" with the pen and pencil. Among other things, it says, "This wood is from trees which have been bearing fruit since the time of the Romans." I recall things I have learned about the Romans. The Pax Romana--the Roman Peace. A peace that conquered the lands of the Jews. A peace that slaughtered hundreds of thousands of people. A peace that crucified Jesus Christ. A peace that persecuted Christians for centuries. I have to shake my head.

I think again about the olive wood. What does it make me think of? An olive leaf, brought to Noah by a dove? The tree of the Psalmist, flourishing in the courts of the Lord? A garden on a mountain where Christ would withdraw to pray? Yes, all of these and more. Like Noah I see hope. Like David I see joy. If I can see as Christ saw, I see peace and the love of my Creator.

I look at the pen and pencil again and see something better. I see an olive branch. I see hope and joy and peace and love. I think of God who loves me, and who loves all people. Filled with the Lord's presence, I know that today I will feed the hungry. Today I will help those who suffer. Today I will live in peace. Today I will live for the Lord. I will strive to live just like Christ. To be Christ like. To be Christian.

God bless you--

February 2004