My dad seldom lit his pipe, it was used more as an aid. What kind of an aid comes in the form of a pipe? Just months before I was born, Dad had been diagnosed with a degenerative muscle disease affecting his neck. He tried treatments, which helped some. He was still able to live a normal life, although he was in almost constant pain. Holding that little pipe in his mouth helped balance his posture.
He’s been gone several years now, but the smell of rich cherry-vanilla pipe tobacco, his choice when he occasionally lit the pipe, still makes us think of him. His pipe sits on my bookshelf today, a little reminder from my childhood—Dad holding his pipe between his teeth as we walked together to get a paper from the local newsstand, or Dad sitting patiently on a park bench while his children ran from slide to swing set, playing carefree. A symbol of warm feelings and happy days when I was a little child.
Symbols are important in our lives. They represent many things, some joyful to remember, some painful lessons that need remembering as well. The bible, too, is filled with symbolism. A rooster is the symbol of the Apostle Peter’s unbelief and fear., and then, with the sunrise, a new day. (Mark 14:30) A strong tree with deep roots, standing courageously and unbending, is the symbol for the one who walks in God’s way, untainted by the enticements Satan offers. (Psalm 1:3)
A rooster and a mighty tree of strength are just two of the symbols found in God’ letter to us, symbols that represent many things: unbelief and renewal of faith, holiness and strength, freedom in Christ’s love and salvation.
Don’t let those things in life that represent something bigger lose their meaning. Most of all, remember the Cross, fashioned by Roman soldiers as a symbol of death, but changed by God’s Hand into a symbol of everlasting love toward us all.