The lovely apple trees that I planted more than a decade ago in my back yard are now bare. There was a good crop this year, but no fruit remains on the spurs or branches. There is not even a single leaf remaining on the trees. Can there be any hope when the trees appear so barren?
I know that the trees are planted in good soil, because I dug the holes myself. The shape of each tree is pleasing, because I have pruned the trees. The trees are healthy, because I have added fertilizer and practiced careful pest management. Yet when I look at the trees now, I see barrenness.
But the trees are alive! If I scrape the tender bark of a thin branch, I can see the soft green of the cambium – the layer where growth occurs. It is winter now, so I know the barrenness is temporary. But there is nothing I can do to make the trees bud and burst into the vivid colors of spring and summer. This transformation happens only by waiting patiently for the cycles of the seasons, the patterns of day and night, the rain and the warmth of the sun to occur.
Salvation is at hand for the trees that appear barren in the midst of winter. The bonds of cold will be broken and a resurrection will transpire. So it is in our lives. We enter times of discouragement and wandering – and question whether the vibrancy of life will happen again. In these periods of feeling adrift and unfruitful, we need to continue with the practices of planting, pruning and fertilizing. In the right season salvation comes, as the Spirit of God brings life and hope through the Son.
So with hope, glean the words of salvation from this week’s Scriptures.
- Favor is shown to the land
- Peace is spoken to the people
- Love and faithfulness meet
- Comfort is declared
- The hungry are fed
- The Lord shows patience
- A voice cries in the wilderness
- The way of the Lord is prepared
Truly “salvation is at hand” for all of us, as we rest in the energizing love of the Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer.