There is a certain finality to all things. And there is a cause and effect relationship between all things. Life, so clouded by paradoxes and mysteries, is also held together by certainties which we cannot escape.
“If the clouds are full, they pour out rain upon the earth; and whether a tree falls toward the south or toward the north, wherever the tree falls, there it lies.” Ecclesiastes 11:3
The writer of Ecclesiastes presented this truth in metaphor: clouds and trees give memorable illustration to this idea of certainty and finality. As in so much of life, the world around us is adequate to show us just how the apparently elusive and complex mysteries in life are really not so difficult after all.
Take clouds and rain. How are they related? In essence, they are one and the same (water), only different in form. Clouds are vaporized water, rain is water in its most basic, stable condition. But when certain conditions are present – water crystals and droplets have formed in warm air, and the air is cooled and the water condenses – rain starts to fall.
It’s a simple cause and effect scenario. Conditions occur and results happen. It is marvelously dependable.
This order of events is tried and true in countless situations all throughout our human experience. And we witness it every day.
Consider a tree that falls in the forest. For whatever reason, the tree falls: it catches a disease, lightning hits it, a woodsman cuts it down. But the one thing we know for sure is that the tree does fall.
Now a tree falls in one direction. Not two, not three. Only one.
Wherever that tree falls, there it lies.
Is this assessment really worth our thought and introspection? And why did the greatest mind in all history ponder something such as this?
BECAUSE IT REVEALS A CORE ELEMENT OF LIFE.
For all the seeming paradoxes of life, all the inconsistencies, there is a massive weight of determined finality to life’s events. The sun rises, the sun travels (from our perspective) to the horizon, and sets and disappears. In a few hours, the sun rises, and travels to the horizon, and sets again…
If we look at the stars, we find an astounding consistency of travel and position. When we look at the cycles of the sea, we find precise purposes of plankton and algae and other life forms. We see perfect design and pattern of evaporation and tides. We discover consistent form in vegetation growth and decay and fertilization.
There is an amazing array of consistency in life. And while we tend to notice the exceptions, there is far more in life that follows the predictable pattern of cause and effect.
The words of God are a flawless example of this finality in life. What God has said, whether in prophecy or in command, has proven perfectly true through all of time. Hundreds of prophecies made centuries beforehand have come true, to the last detail. And all the ones yet unfulfilled will come true as well, in time.
God gave commands about living. He told us what will harm us and what will bless us. He told us how to live, how to relate to money, business, people, ourselves, and of course Himself. Following His commands brings exactly what He said it would bring, and disobeying His commands brings exactly what He said it would bring.
As humans, we yearn for consistency and purpose. We like knowing that certain actions will have certain results. We want security in the future. We want finality.
God has provided all of this and more, illustrated both in His creation and in His perfect rendering of Himself to us. And wherever the tree falls…
…there it lies.