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This morning, our teacher took us to Jharkhand, India. Well, I don’t mean we really went there. We went there by learning about it. Jharkhand is a state in eastern India, just south of Bihar. Actually, it used to be part of Bihar until the year 2000 when it became its own state.
Jharkhand is known for its trees. Its nickname is the “Land of Forests and Hills.” There are trees everywhere! Some of the trees are used for their hardwood, like the sal tree. Some of the trees are important for their leaves, like the asan tree. Its leaves are a favorite food for the silkworms the people use to make silk.
The trees have other important jobs, too. The deep forests are some of the few places left where Bengal tigers, leopards, elephants, and bears can live and roam freely. And, the trees provide firewood that families can burn to keep warm or sell in the market.
Trees had lots of different uses in the Bible, too. When you stop and think about it, trees are a big part of the Gospel story. At the very beginning of the story, God created the first people—Adam and Eve—and created a beautiful garden for them to live in, the Garden of Eden. There were lots of trees and plants that grew there, including a tree that was called the tree of the “knowledge of good and evil.” That was the one tree Adam and Eve were told not to eat from. They could eat anything else they wanted to, but not the fruit from that one tree. Do you know what happened? They did it—the one thing God told them not to do. Because of that sin, they couldn’t live with God anymore. Sin separated them from Him. But God loved His people too much to give up on them. He would make a way that we could live together with Him again.
Many, many years later, Jesus was born, God’s own Son. He lived a perfect life—He never did a single thing wrong. He is the only who has ever lived without making a single mistake. Because of that, He could pay for the sin that Adam and Eve had committed, plus the sins of all their children—even us today. When it came time for Jesus to pay the price for our mistakes, He had to die on a cross. The cross was made from the wood of another tree. Jesus was separated from God for a time because He took all of our sins (that separated us from God) onto Himself. After He died, He came back to life and gave us the best news of all—we don’t have to be separated from God anymore. Jesus made the way that we can live with Him forever and ever, just like it was in the Garden of Eden.
The world we live in now isn’t anything like the Garden of Eden. That’s because of all the sins of all the people who have lived and done things they shouldn’t have done. But, one day, God promises to take us to a new home He is creating just for us! It will be a perfect home where there will be NO sin! And do you know what else will be there? A special tree, the “tree of life.”
I know I will get to see the tree of life one day when I get to Heaven and live with God. Will you be there? Will the people of Jharkhand? I’m going to pray that I see all of you and all of them there.
“Dear God, we know that we make mistakes and sin all the time. Even when we do our best to be good, we can never be perfect. Thank you for sending Jesus to pay for my mistakes. I believe Jesus died in my place so I can live with You. Please help every person, no matter where they are, to hear and believe that. Show them that all they have to do is ask You to come into their heart and forgive their mistakes. You will save them and stay with them forever. You will help them know You through the Bible and prayer in this world and You will be waiting for them in Heaven when our time on this world is over. Thank You, Jesus, for loving me so much that You’d rather die for me than live without me. In Jesus’ Name. Amen.”