Isaiah 11: 1 – 10
According to Isaiah, the transformation from a culture of fear to a world of peace begins with a stump. Out of something that appears finished, lifeless, left behind, comes the sign of new life – a green sprig.
This is how hope gets its start – it emerges as a tiny tendril in an unexpected place. Listeners might be asked to examine where the stumps are in their own lives; where do they feel cut off? Can they imagine or believe that even now God might be nurturing the growth of something new and good from their old, dead dreams? They might consider what areas of their lives most need the promise of new life, and how they might become open to such newness. Isaiah’s promise is not just a future one; even now there are tiny signs of hope and life in places that look dead and discarded.
Do you know someone who exhibits signs of new life? When we see someone who is able to grow when they had previously seemed lifeless, God is showing us a shining star, someone who models for us what it is to step out anew in faith. An example of this for me is my oldest son, Jack. Many of you know that when he was 2 1/2 years old he was very seriously ill. At one point we were told he had an 80% chance of not surviving the night. He was almost lifeless, and yet God brought him back from the verge, showing us new signs of unexpected life. He had a very difficult journey and endured a lot. I cannot express to you how many times in my life since that experience I have sucked up enough courage to do something that terrified me by saying, “if Jack can go through what he did, I can endure this…”
Look at your own people. Is there someone who has shown you signs of new life? Someone recovering from sickness, addictions, someone making better choices, making their life whole again or for the first time? Take inspiration from them. They are a gift to you. They are one of God’s shining stars.