The Promise of Spring in a Year of Difficulty
It appears that Springtime is upon us. We are still fluctuating between the sunny and warmer days of promise and to grey and windy reminders of winter past. But there is the hope that more sunny days are ahead than grey winter days.
This time of the year always strikes me as we watch the ground, grass and planter beds emerge from under the snow looking dead and honestly quite ugly. All of the debris that has gathered over the winter that was once hidden in the snow is now quite visible. But the promise of spring lies in what is beneath what initially appears to be dead.
Recently two images and their stories from the internet have captured my attention. The first relates to what is called a super bloom that happened in the desert of California following a period of drought. An overnight rain came and the next day the entire desert was filled with poppies and other blossoms as far as the eye could see. The pictures were absolutely stunning.
The second image and story that has captured my attention relates to the destruction caused by forest fires. One of the phenomena that follow devastating fires in the forest is the rapid regrowth of some of the vegetation, including a certain type of tree. I do not know all the particulars, but within days of the fire there is new growth evident where destruction was so severe.
In both cases, the answer is related to what was within the soil. In both cases, seeds were laying dormant in the soil waiting for just the right time. And just the right conditions to burst forth with new life, giving new hope. In one case it was the light rain, the other the intense heat that released the life within.
There are numerous examples of this in scripture, but one that I find particularly encouraging today is found in Isaiah 35. The prophet is talking to the people of God and sharing with them God’s promise of restoration. He uses the image of the desert to bring home his point.
Isaiah 35:1-2: "The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom like the crocus; it shall blossom abundantly and rejoice with joy and singing. The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it, the majesty of Carmel and Sharon. They shall see the glory of the LORD, the majesty of our God."
From the rest of the story, we know that the People of God have been in a desert. A dry place. A difficult situation for a long time. This image, this promise brings hope and life to them, and to us.
We have been through a dry time, a desert place, maybe even a ravaging fire and this verse give us hope that there is newness of life on the other side of the trial. When we couple this promise with the promise of eternal life that was purchased for us on the cross and made a reality at the resurrection of Christ, we can be certain that the flowers will emerge from the dead and dry places and the lush forest will replace the destruction and that life abundant awaits those who remain faithful in following God. He is the resurrection and the life, and he can bring to vitality that which lays dormant within all of creation, including us.
May this be our reality today, and every day. Amen,