A couple of summers ago while my husband and I were up in the High Sierras of California camping, we decided to take a day trip to the ancient Bristlecone Pines. We had caught our limit of trout, so we left the beauty of our surroundings to venture down the mountains on the west side of the Owens Valley and ascended the White Mountains on the east. The road weaved its way through short scrub pines and rocky-colored shale, opening to panoramic displays of the mountain ranges on the west.
The paved road ended and we decided to proceed ahead on the dusty gravel road that led to the oldest of the trees. The distance to the Patriarch Grove was 12 miles and the warning signs left you with the feeling of “abandon hope all ye who enter in.” We had had a flat tire on the way to our campsite, so driving on our spare tire, we proceeded with a little concern but mostly anticipation.
The views changed from pines growing among granite rocks with colorful wildflowers in shades of red, purple and yellow scattered over the ground to something like the austere surface of the moon. This was summer and temperature down in the valley reaches into the 100s, yet up where we were at the 11,000-foot level, small patches of snow dotted the ground.
We made it to the parking lot and surveyed the area around us. There was no one around and the visitors’ area had been boarded up, but all around us stood the most amazing looking trees. Hanging precipitously off the edges were sculpted pieces of reddish brown bark with roots twisting and weaving themselves into the rocky ground. A branch here and there contained live pine needles with some showing small red pine cones.
Here stood the oldest living things on this earth. One of the trees in the park named Methuselah is believed to be 4,750 years old. Its location is kept a secret by the park rangers for fear that someone would damage the tree. “Joe was here” just would not look right on the beautiful bark of one of these trees. The tree identified to be the oldest back in the 50s at 4,862 years old was cut down by students who were studying tree rings.
Harsh conditions on earth
These trees do not sink their roots down into the ground to obtain moisture, for in this desolate area there is none. They receive the nourishment from the air. The winds twist and pummel them and sometimes when they topple over they continue to grow with their roots hugging the ground. The small pine cones drop to the ground and from their seeds small trees dot the landscape. For these ancient Bristlecone Pines, life has been going on since the flood in Noah’s day.
The trees groan, struggle, persevere. Why? They are waiting stoically for the fulfillment of the verse in Romans 8:18-22 Romans 8:18-22 18 For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.
19 For the earnest expectation of the creature waits for the manifestation of the sons of God.
20 For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who has subjected the same in hope,
21 Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God.
22 For we know that the whole creation groans and travails in pain together until now.
American King James Version×, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now.”
To see those marvelous trees helps to bring to life the scriptures that reveal our awesome potential and responsibility. To be in God’s family and to have a part with our Creator to restore the creation to the beauty it once had is an incredible privilege. This time is described in Isaiah 51:3 Isaiah 51:3For the LORD shall comfort Zion: he will comfort all her waste places; and he will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the LORD; joy and gladness shall be found therein, thanksgiving, and the voice of melody.
American King James Version×, “For the Lord will comfort Zion, He will comfort all her waste places; He will make her wilderness like Eden, and her desert like the garden of the Lord; joy and gladness will be found in it, thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”
God gave man a beautiful garden to live in (Genesis 2:8-15 Genesis 2:8-15 8 And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed.
9 And out of the ground made the LORD God to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight, and good for food; the tree of life also in the middle of the garden, and the tree of knowledge of good and evil.
10 And a river went out of Eden to water the garden; and from there it was parted, and became into four heads.
11 The name of the first is Pison: that is it which compasses the whole land of Havilah, where there is gold;
12 And the gold of that land is good: there is bdellium and the onyx stone.
13 And the name of the second river is Gihon: the same is it that compasses the whole land of Ethiopia.
14 And the name of the third river is Hiddekel: that is it which goes toward the east of Assyria. And the fourth river is Euphrates.
15 And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.
American King James Version×). The animals, plants and trees grew in perfect harmony. Man was to dress and keep it. But since man rejected God’s ways, creation and man have struggled ever since. The flood brought a chance for renewal, but man, without seeking the knowledge of God, returned to his own ways.
So, high in the mountains of California and Nevada the seeds of the Bristlecone Pines began to sprout and grow again. But, instead of growing strong and straight and healthy, they twist and struggle and groan. They are waiting for a glorious future!
To learn more about the amazing future in store for all creation, request our free Bible study aid What Is Your Destiny?