Growth from the stump

Growth from the stump

There is a surprising tree on my street.

It is nothing more than a trunk, and yet, every spring, it sends forth a single branch of blossoms.  Its resilience is inspiring.  It reminds me of the Monty Python quote: “I’m not dead yet!”

In Isaiah 10, we saw Israel like a forest leveled.  Decimated.  Blown down by the high wind of God’s judgment.  And then, in the opening verse of the next chapter, the Lord’s people are given hope:

            There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,
                   and a branch from his roots shall bear fruit. (Isaiah 11:1)

God had promised Israel that there would always be a king in the line of David (Jesse’s son) on the throne.  And despite the seeming impossibility of that promise in the wake of the nation’s destruction, Isaiah foretells of a coming Davidic King, one who will rule justly and righteously.  And his reign will transform the very way creatures relate to each other (vs. 6-8).

It’s what their hearts must have been longing to hear.

Even as we are living in the new reality of lock-down, I have been considering the changes that this will bring to us.  Because, it will most certainly alter our lives.

Already, it has transformed my business.  Two weeks ago, I sent out this photo to tell clients that I can do my usual graphic recording remotely, sitting in my studio.  It enabled me to get a front seat on the virtual bandwagon.  Judging by the response, it’s going to get pretty crowded on this ride.  Businesses are finding a new way to relate to clients.

But it’s not just businesses.  Our social structures have been stripped away.  And in our individual and familial isolation, our need for real connection has risen to the surface.

What lasting change will grow in the church in the wake of this winter of seclusion?  I don’t know, but I’m excited to see it.  Perhaps real fellowship will be prized over its pot-luck pretender.  Maybe the immediacy that technology offers will bring global bonds between believers.  Could it be we’ll start really seeing our neighbors?  And caring about them?

In other words, we might prioritize the Kingdom.  Isaiah makes it plain: the coming King intends to establish his rule.  And that rule will transform everything.

            They shall not hurt or destroy
                   in all my holy mountain;
           for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD
                  as the waters cover the sea. (Isaiah 11:9)

Nothing will prevent God from that ultimate goal.

Eternal, omnipotent, all-wise God, we have seen a sickness spread across the globe, bringing the world to its knees.  How we long for the day when your Son’s healing presence and rule are as pervasive.  Transform us through this challenging time, Lord!

Reader:  How do you think this time of isolation will change us?

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Bruce Van Patter

As a freelance illustrator, graphic recorder, and author, Bruce is on a lifelong journey to delight in the handiwork of the Creator. And he’s always ready for fellow travelers.