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Roxane B. Salonen, Published November 15 2013

God pursues willing hearts by all means

God’s persistence is a beautiful thing, as a reader recently reminded me.

This gentleman first approached my email inbox after reading my column broaching the formidable topic, “Who made God?”

“I’m not atheist, agnostic, maybe,” he said, noting that he does believe in a “good, superior, intelligent being in charge of the universe.” But he could not grasp the Christian concept of the Trinity – God as three people in one, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

In my response to him, I wrote in agreement that the Trinity is nearly impossible to fully comprehend, falling under the category of “mystery,” yet I don’t find it a deterrent in terms of belief.

“If we knew everything God knew, we wouldn’t be human,” I wrote. “God left out a few details so we could try to figure out a few things on our own and yearn to be with him so we can learn the rest later, I think.”

Flash forward several months, and I am seeing the reader’s name once more in my inbox, followed by a message that has him noting that “something has come up recently” that made him recall our earlier email conversation.

He asked if I knew of the folk singer Joan Baez, and proceeded to share how her song, “The Cherry Tree,” had illuminated the Trinity for him in a most unexpected way.

The song, he said, describes Mary, Jesus’ mother, pregnant with Jesus, and asking her husband, Joseph, to pick her some cherries. “(Joseph) flies into anger and says, ‘Let the father of the baby pick cherries for thee,’ ” he explained.

At that point, baby Jesus, in Mary’s womb, asks the tree to bend down, “That my mother might have some.” And so the tree does.

“The thing is,” the reader said, “I’ve listened to that song dozens and dozens of times and never saw the connection that the Father (God) and baby Jesus are one and the same, and coming to that realization did cause a couple of tears.”

“Please don’t misunderstand,” he continued. “I haven’t changed my views, but at least I, maybe, understand and maybe even believe more.”

Suddenly, I am the one in tears, knowing a heart has been moved – not by anything I’ve said, but by God’s love and persistence in reaching him in the way he would be most likely to receive the message – through a folk song he’s loved for years but now hears differently.

It made me think, too, of the lengths God has gone to reach me. In my years as a mother, this often has come through the voice of one of my children, who, unknowingly, says something that I suddenly recognize as God speaking directly to my heart.

God respects our humanity and our uniqueness and will use both to reach us. This divine communication may seem totally unlikely to those who do not believe in God. But believers know that God seeks us out in both dramatic and small ways, often using earthly means, which can change our lives.

God is not beyond using whatever it takes, even a folk song about a cherry tree, to pull us close. All we need is a ready, willing heart.

Salonen is a freelance writer who lives in Fargo with her husband and five children. If you have a story of faith to share with her, email roxanebsalonen@gmail.com