About 7 months ago, we moved into my parent’s home, as they were relocating into the country. At the front gate of Berg ‘n Zee are two bushes to greet you and these were beautifully kept standards, until we moved in. And forgot to water them!
The bush pictured on the right is under the shade of mirror bush trees; so that one continued to flourish. But the one on the left exposed to the bright sun and elements, over a period of time began to show signs of neglect. The ever slowly browning leaves of the little wild cherry didn’t manage to arrest our attention. It was only when the leaves turned completely brown (and my parents were coming back for a visit) that I finally began to take notice! I used a pair of sicoteurs to remove the incriminating evidence! And shaped it into a little bush of grey twigs. That was all that was left. Except for one remaining twig with a few sparse leaves left hanging on.
Yet this gave me hope. I thought, it looks dead, but that one twig, just maybe it will revive? And so I started to water it. So did my Dad when they came to stay. And miracle of miracles, little green leaves started to push up from those seemingly dead twigs and life slowly returned. So we went from a place of my Mom offering to get us a new bush… to coming to realise that this one was indeed going to make it. It is now covered with new leaves, and happily connected to the sprinkling system, so will not suffer the same fate in time to come!
This little bush has become our parable of resurrection this year. A sign and a wonder, that God can take something that looks to be on its last legs (or twigs) and cause life to return to the branches, leaves to sprout, and a bush to return to the land of the living. “Though its roots have grown old in the earth and its stump decays, at the scent of water it will bud and sprout again like a new seedling.” Job 14:8-9.
In the film Enchanted April, based on the book by Elizabeth Von Arnim , a group of ladies comes together seemingly by chance to a castle, San Salvatore, in Italy for a holiday, each of them having their own reasons to be there. They came in different states of the dishevelling of life, but slowly the lake and garden, the medieval castle and the magic of it all, brings them together as they start to decrust and heal. There is a quote from this book that recurs to me time and again, “…The great thing is to have lots of love about.”
One character in the story is an old woman who only lives to talk about what famous people meant to her, people who have all subsequently passed away. A cantankerous lady, she slowly turns around and becomes refreshed, like our little bush, as love is continuously offered her in an unconditional way. Her grumpy manners give way to a whole new approach to the world. On the way back home, as they walk down the road from San Salvatore, this woman pushes her long depended upon walking stick into the ground at the edge of the path. A stick that was an excuse, now pushed into the earth at San Salvatore… becomes what? The final picture of the film sees this stick budding, branching out and growing flowers and leaves!
At church recently, a word was shared about Lazarus. A wonderful tall African man shared with us all. When Jesus came to the tomb, Martha said, “Lord he has been dead for four days. The smell will be terrible.” And yet, Jesus said, “Didn’t I tell you that you would see God’s glory if you believe?” So they rolled the stone aside. (See John 11).
The word this man shared was that God has removed the stone from every impossible situation of our lives and will call things that feel impossible and dead, into resurrection life. Jesus is the Resurrection and the Life! The stone has been rolled away! No longer is there a stone in the way of what God wants to do. So we can call forth the resurrection of God into situations with a hearty, “Come forth! Come out of the tomb! Take off the grave clothes.”
Perhaps the grave clothes are not for the burial of dead things after all. Perhaps the grave clothes are only a cocoon and the things that feel lost are being allowed a time of metamorphosis so that they can come into a new season of life, changed by the very breath of God as the cocoon peels away. When we come to the end of our capabilities and the end of our plans to turn things around, there is a perfect opportunity for God to work. It is often when I have come to the end of myself that I have seen God show up and do what only He can do! And then I know, it’s nothing of my own doing or of human capability, but only of God’s doing!
In Ezekiel 37 we read a powerful word given to a valley of dead bones. (NLT & The Message)
“Son of man, can these bones become living people again?”
“ O Sovereign Lord, you alone know the answer to that.”
“Prophesy over these bones: Dry bones, listen to the Message of God!
Watch this: I’m bringing the breath of life to you and you’ll come to life. I’ll attach sinews to you, put meat on your bones, cover you with skin, and breathe life into you. You’ll come alive and you’ll realise that I am God!”
I prophesied just as I’d been commanded. As I prophesied, there was a sound and, oh, rustling! The bones moved and came together, bone to bone. I kept watching. Sinews formed, then muscles on the bones, then skin stretched over them. But they had no breath in them. He said to me, “Prophesy to the breath. Prophesy son of man. Tell the breath, ‘God, the Master says, Come from the four winds, Come breath. Breathe on these slain bodies. Breathe life!’”
So I prophesied, just as he commanded me. The breath entered them and they came alive! They stood up on their feet, a huge army. Listen to what they’re saying, “Our bones are dried up, our hope is gone, there’s nothing left of us.” Therefore prophesy. Tell them God the Master says, ‘I’ll dig up your graves and bring you out alive – O my people! I’ll breathe my life into you and you’ll live.’”
In Mozambique there is a place called Iris Ministries in Pemba. Heidi and Rolland Baker founded this ministry through great hardship and they have seen God come through for them time and again. To the place where there have been numbers of documented resurrections from the dead and many miracles of healing, the blind seeing, deaf hearing… food being multiplied. “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 5:3.
I know that the God who manifests His presence in these ways in Mozambique, is the same God in our lives day to day wherever we may be in the world. And I offer myself up to Him, all that feels in need of His touch, my state of health, my wild-hearted dreams that seem somewhat impossible to see realised on this earth… everything. My family, friends, my country South Africa, the nations of the earth, all hungry hearts and bodies, the people of this world I offer up to the Resurrection and the Life: COME FORTH! COME OUT! LIVE!
With man these things may seem impossible, but with God all things are possible.
So what are you hungry for? Blessed are those who hunger…and thirst…for righteousness for they will be filled. (Matthew 5:6) They…will…be…filled. As we approach this Lenten season, may we too be surprised with child-like wonder, as we find that it is with the faith of a child that we will inherit the kingdom. And children are always open to miracles.
Let us be awakened Lord, to the scent of the waters of your Spirit, to feel the sap flow through us once again, and to suddenly find, that new green leaves sprout out of what we thought were only dead branches. You will do the work as we come to you Christ, our Resurrection. Amen.
As you listen to these songs, may every area of your life receive the life-giving resurrection of the Spirit.
Fall on Me – Vineyard Worship
Come Alive (Dry Bones) – Lauren Daigle
Beautiful and a wonderful counter message for hopelessness in anyone’s life.
Thank you Cynthia for sharing! Warm blessings to you!
Beautifully shared. Life giving. Great Hope!
Thank you Joanie for sharing! Blessings!
Love this! A much needed word of hope and life. Thank you. I thought I knew Job inside out, but that verse is such a powerful one and it has never leapt out at me so vividly. A word in season.
Thank you for sharing! Yes, I love this scripture in Job, such a gem. Great blessings!
Thank you for this, Jenneth – very timely for me – my dry bones are receiving life again – hope and life – and I love the image that my ‘crutches’ can have life and a greening of their own – when I no longer use them – & replant them.
Dear Bev, thank you so much for your encouraging heart! I love your reflection of the crutches we use greening with life. I receive this beautiful word <3
I love this, Jenneth! Such an inspiring and encouraging word in due season. What struck me as I read was how the “scent of water” has healing powers in itself. Just a slight awareness of Holy Spirit’s life-giving breath can be enough. God doesn’t have to send a huge flood. We can receive small amounts and be readied for more. Not only will we bud and sprout again, we will also be like a new seedling as we embrace the flow. Thank you for this beautiful reflection.
Thank you so much Joy, I love to hear your insightful reflections. You see things in such a discerning way and share with your gift of encouragement.
Hi Jenneth. What a wonderful post. Reminds me of a poem I wrote awhile back called ‘To the Sun’. Thank you for reminding us of the power of His spirit to recharge and renew and resurrect. Amen.
TO THE SUN:
There is hope for a tree.
If cut down, it buds again at the scent of water.
There is hope for us.
In Your tender mercy,
our failings are not fatal,
and our missteps only temporary.
For You steady us when we falter,
and You promise us eternity.
You turn us back toward you,
as a tree grows to the sun.
As its roots search out sustenance
we seek the only one,
And to whom we lift our face,
to whom we re-affirm our faith,
the author and the giver of all grace.
There is hope for the pot,
that is not responding as it should.
For the potter holds the wheel,
the artist the brush. Just in art there’s no mistake,
the designer will not rush.
Sometimes with great intent,
He’ll re-mould his design,
so that with all creation, he may announce it as ‘good’.
So we can believe when He speaks of eternity,
of ‘new covenants’ that wash us clean.
At the scent of water we can re-bud,
though we may feel dead in the ground.
We can have faith in His goodness and mercy,
that follows us to where-ever we have run.
We can respond as the tree, as the pot, –
let Him change us, and turn us to the sun.
Wow! How true Ana Lisa, this poem is so connected with what I was saying. Thank you very much for sharing this with us!
My response in picture form so that I can continue to meditate on this verse.
Beautiful – thank you
A visual reflection, so lovely, thank you for sharing!