New Life in Desolate Places

Published 10:00 pm Wednesday, April 13, 2016


Easter reminds me of spring, and spring reminds me of Easter. Both are seasons of new and unexpected life. The prophet Isaiah captured this newness unforgettably when he wrote:


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.  (Isaiah 35:1-2)


In the Hebrew Scriptures, the promise of God’s abundant life is often described as a blossoming in the desert. The desert is a harsh landscape. Water is scarce and the sun fierce. Only a few of the hardiest plants survive. But at the few times when it does rain, often a miracle occurs. Overnight the dry and parched land is almost miraculously covered with flowers. It’s a startling experience to witness. No wonder Isaiah could see the unexpected bursting forth of such color in such a desolate landscape as a symbol of God’s generosity, fruitfulness, and hope.

In Polk County we don’t live in a desert. Far from it. And no time of the year is that more visible than in the spring. Yet there is a lesson in these words from Isaiah.

Both Easter and the springtime remind me that God evidently has an imagination far more expansive than ours. Jesus’ resurrection on Easter morning was totally unpredicted, extraordinary, and illogical. Each year as spring emerges we witness an unexpected beauty that is startling. And just think—you and I have an opportunity to see it, and live it. To be sure the desert doesn’t bloom every day, and spring soon changes into the heat of summer. And depending on what is happening in our lives, there are days when even Easter will seem remote. Yet there is a playfulness and spontaneity to the season of spring and the day of Easter that invites us to join the joyful abandon that Isaiah describes. Easter calls us to live in hope. And hope is openness to new life in desolate places. Easter calls us to faith. And faith is moving through those places with courage and perseverance.  Easter calls us to love. And love is helping each other see moments of beauty even in the desert. Easter calls us to move through the desolate regions of life with an eye for new life. So keep your eyes open.