Today, I saw Dr. Seuss’ The Lorax with my youngest sister (she’s seven). She adores Dr. Seuss. All of his books sit proudly on her bookshelf. A few years ago, when she had first discovered Dr. Seuss, she got a kick out of making my sisters and I read the stories and stumble over the tongue twisters. She had them read to her so often that she would know if we messed up and would makes us start again. So when The Lorax came to theaters, she was ecstatic. She kept her room clean for an entire week so she could go the Saturday it came out. I went with her, and even though this was perhaps the one Dr. Seuss in existence I apparently haven’t read, the preview looked interesting. Plus, I love trees, so I was sold.
The movie was lovely. Very cute and fun for younger kids, but interesting and inspiring for adults. At least, I found it inspiring. When that first tree was cut down, I actually felt bad, as if I had destroyed it. I was moved when the lorax stood up and said, “I am the lorax. I speak for the trees.” Well good, I thought. Someone has to. They quite obviously can’t speak for or defend themselves. Someone needs to protect them.
I absolutely love trees. Not in a crazy, hippie, tree hugging kind of way. (Even though, I did grow up in Washington, the evergreen state, so maybe its just innate.) But I find them to be magnificent. I love the colors, the scent, the sound of wind rustling the leaves, the sense of protection a forest evokes. Nothing will put your life into perspective than looking up at a tree that touches the sky and is hundreds of years old. I believe they are God’s most amazing creation, both functional and beautiful, the perfect metaphor for humanity.
People like to speak for the trees. They like to protect them, nurture them, spread awareness concerning the harm that mankind has done to them. We give them life, souls, and feelings. We project onto them emotions they can never feel, but what we imagine they must. If someone chopped us to the ground and dragged us through the mud, we would feel horrid, desolate, uncared for. Something so majestic, wonderful, comforting must have those feelings. And it is up to those of us with voices to speak for them. To lend them our voice.
I speak for the trees.
Many Christians like to speak for God. Some have a gift, blessed by the Holy Spirit, that allow them to do this. But more often than not, the loudest voices, the most determined voices talk only to hear themselves speak. Christians are excellent at letting everyone know what God would say about things. We inform the public which party He would vote for, how He feels about gay marriage and legalized marijuana. We tell people what types of schools their kids should go to, what books God wants you to read, what clothes He wants you to wear. We answer the question, “What would Jesus do?” without even asking it of Jesus. So many denominations are formed because different Christians claim God actually meant this instead of that. God doesn’t want instruments in church, only vocals. God doesn’t want women to be pastors. God doesn’t want us to meet on Sundays. God doesn’t want women to use birth control. God doesn’t want missions or community outreach to be the focus. God doesn’t want us to meet in buildings, but in people’s homes.
As said in the Civil War film Cold Mountain, “I imagine God is weary of being called down on both sides of an argument.”
I imagine that God often looks down on us, wandering about in our cities, arguing over details, and shakes His head at the absolute ridiculous things we tend to focus on. And I can also imagine that He becomes livid when we attribute things to Him that He most certainly did not say, nor would He ever. The worst part: He would willingly answer our questions, if we would only ask. He could clear up everything if we went to Him in sincerity and intentionality, seeking His wisdom. God has a voice, a presence, the ability to act. He is all-knowing, all-powerful, and everywhere all at once. He created the world and everything in it in six days, then flooded it because man had become evil and corrupt. He sent His son, Jesus, to die on the cross to save His people, because He realized we would never be able to on our own. And this is the God that we presume to speak for? The God we dare to claim an intimate understanding? We could be alive for five lifetimes past infinity and never full grasp the most general idea of what God truly and simply is.
I believe that we look at God like a tree. Beautiful, amazing, pure brilliance, but nothing more. We like to admire them, to wonder at them, but not allow them their true purpose. Trees in all of their beauty and magnificence were created with a function, a purpose. They provide the clean air we breathe, some produce fruit, others flowers, some house forest animals, and still some provide the houses we live in and the books we read from. God gave us trees for a variety of uses, and while we must not exploit them, we are to make use of them. They serve a purpose.
God also has a purpose. He is God, the creator, the Father, the savior, the one who grants life. He is everything we will ever need. He is not a cloud floating in the sky. He is not simply someone for us to admire without truly listening to. He is not someone who needs us, the imperfect humans He created, to speak for Him and tell the world what He really meant when the Bible says this or that. We were created to love and glorify God. Not to imagine His thoughts and opinions. We don’t need to speak for God, because He has already spoken for Himself and will continue to do so.
So, I am Cassandre. And God speaks to me. But I do not speak for Him. He may choose to speak through me, to use me to spread His love and salvation. But I am not God. I am not all-knowing. I cannot imagine His thoughts or opinions. But I can ask them of Him. And I can read His Word and learn from Jesus’ teachings. I understand that the little details between denominations are not issues of salvation but of preference. They do not determine who God is. God is not religion, but rather religion is our (often times imperfect) attempt to understand God. I know that God loves us all, for we are His children. I know that God knows my heart as well as yours. God knows us all intimately, and He allows us the chance to know Him. But He does not need me to speak for Him. But He allows me to spread His love and story to those who would know Him.
But if I so choose, I can still speak for the trees.