The Pine Cone Strategy
Every house that I have ever celebrated Christmas in has had an artificial tree. When I was little I would help my mom place the ornaments on the tree. Now that I am a father, it is my job to go pull the tree out of a box in storage and assemble it so that my kids can decorate it.
I’ve always wondered what it would be like to have the experience of driving to pick out a tree and the smell of the evergreen permeating the house. While I may never experience that part of celebrating Christmas I can see why the pine tree is representative of the holiday.
“O Israel, stay away from idols! I am the one who answers your prayers and cares for you. I am like a tree that is always green; all your fruit comes from me.” Hosea 14:8 (NLT)
Hosea 14:8 describes God as someone who can be relied upon to answer our prayers, to care for us and that produce good fruit in our lives.
I have spent nearly a year thinking about the pinecone before writing this. God had placed this word about teaching the pinecone strategy in my heart long before I had any idea what it meant. Much like when He told me I would teach that God has a sentence for your life years before I would write this book. I believe the pinecone strategy can be an important lesson for those looking to understand their identity in Christ.
The pine tree has more than one hundred varieties. Some call them evergreens or fir trees because unlike other trees their needles stay green year-round. They grow to be very tall so they can live off the light of the sun. They can also live on very little water and are resistant to drought because they hold water within their needles very well. Pine trees are known for being able to grow in almost any soil and under the worst of conditions. There are pine trees growing in the highest mountains and also in the poor sandy soil of the desert.
Pine trees live a very long life, typically between one hundred or one thousand years. There is even one pine tree believed to be one of the oldest trees in existence that has been given the biblical name of Methuselah and is still alive after nearly five thousand years.
Pine trees are the only tree that uses cones as a method to reproduce themselves. Pinecones are the protective covering for the seeds inside. The cones will only release their seeds under the right condition and those conditions vary between pine tree species.
For example, some pines take years to release their seeds depending on the particular maturity of a cone and the branches often have several seasons of cones throughout the tree. On those trees, there may be some cones that are mature enough to drop this year and others that may not mature for years to come.
There are some examples of pine cone maturity not taking place over time, but only when the perfect environmental conditions are met. For instance, the jack pine will wait to release its seeds until it comes under the extreme environmental pressure of fire. There is evidence of this after there was a substantial recorded growth of the jack pines in Yosemite National Park following a forest fire in 1988.
The pine tree doesn’t release a cone and its seeds until they are mature enough to grow. Meanwhile, the tree stands tall and protects the cone while allowing the seeds time to mature or while waiting for the right environmental condition to produce maturity.
This imagery of the life cycle of pine trees is a great representation of how a mature life inside Christ should look.
In Hosea 14:8, God said He is our evergreen tree. Therefore, we are the seed inside His pinecones.
Unlike other trees, the pinecone has an extreme layer of protection around the seed. God also has placed a shield of protection and surrounded believers with divine favor that allows our lives to stay protected even when the enemy tries to trample on us as we grow. These are also extreme layers of protection and covering.
Jesus spoke to the people once more and said, “I am the light of the world. If you follow me, you won’t have to walk in darkness, because you will have the light that leads to life.” John 8:12 (NLT)
Finding passion is about maturing from new believers into faith filled believers who will write God’s sentence. To produce mature cones, a pine tree will grow tall to be touched by the light and hold on tightly to the water within. In John 8:12, Christ says that His light leads to life. Earlier in the chapter of John, Christ also said that believers have access to a living water (John 7:37-39).
If believers can find passion to be led by the light of Christ and to be nourished by the living water of the Holy Spirit, we will mature into Christians who will be released to plant our seeds in the ground. Much like a pinecone, for believers that are seeking to grow a new life in Christ it may take time, but when complete, our faith will be able to grow roots in any soil and under any conditions.
Mature believers are ready to find God’s vision for their lives and make choices that show they are living by faith.
Like a pine tree, God may call mature believers to flourish in places that have great conditions or we may be sent into desert like areas where it is tough for other life to grow. God doesn’t want to send immature believers to places they aren’t ready to go. Believers who find passion for God will learn how to mature and bear the fruit God wants us to produce.
Therefore, your pine cone strategy should be to mature to a point where you can land wherever God wants you to so that the seed of your life can grow roots and become like the pine trees that live long and tall lives. God also wants us to have leaves that never die but provide shelter and shade for others in every season.
For some believers, we won’t ripen until we face extreme environmental pressure. I ripened after being set free from a serious addiction. You may ripen after experiencing a loss or making a major misstep in your life. Either way, the trees that grow in those types of situations often provide the most substantial growth in their area. Christians who come out of the toughest situations are often the ones on the front lines of faith wherever they live encouraging others to mature in their walk with Christ and drop their own seeds.
A pinecone may have the hardest road of any type of tree to build a new life but once planted the trees produced are the largest and strongest life around. Believers who write God’s sentence may similarly have a hard road while trying to mature to a point where they can be planted, bear good fruit and let our lights shine. Thankfully, the results of a life that lives out God’s will and bears His fruit will proudly stand large and tall through the tests of time.
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