We boarded the bus in Tel Aviv. Before the day was over we would end up in Jerusalem. While Tel Aviv was a wonderful place, it really didn’t feel much different than what one might have experienced in any other western city. Located on the shores of the Mediteranean Sea it had all of the modern conveniences one would expect to find in such a place. However, on this morning, leaving these things did not leave a sense of regret among the tour group with whom I was traveling. It was quite the opposite. There was a genuine sense of excitement in the air.
We were about to travel to Caesarea by the Sea, the Dead Sea, Jericho and finally Jerusalem, the Holy City. I remember the journey well, particularly as we traveled through the desert wilderness. There was nothing there that spoke of life. Even the Dead Sea, its blue water against the desolate, brown hills of Moab, was a beautiful sight to observe. However, with all of its beauty there still stood the stark reality that it could not sustain life. As we rode along, looking upon the lifelessness of the wilderness, I suddenly noticed something that didn’t seem to fit in the landscape. In the distance there was, what appeared to be a bright patch of green. Unsure of what it could be, I thought it looked like a pasture in which livestock might graze but how could there be something so fertile in the middle of lifeless terrain? The closer we drew the more confirmation we received that it was exactly what it appeared to be, a pasture. Finally the bus came to a stop and our guide pointed out to us that there were places such as this because of the advances of irrigation technology. He then read to us a passage from Isaiah 35, “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.”
What a powerful image this is, both in person as well as in Scripture. It is truly amazing to see life spring forth out of parched earth. The only ingredient that was missing was water. Once it was added, that which was devoid of life became full of life.
Sometimes it isn’t the earth that is devoid of life. Sometimes it is our very spirit that seems too desolate to sustain life. Maybe life’s circumstances have taken our joy away and we no longer feel alive. Just as the water gave new life and vegetation to that parched earth in the wilderness, the Spirit of God offers us new life as well. It is that Spirit that brings forth abundant life to the places that knew no life. What is required is for us to open ourselves up to possibilities of God. Indeed, “the dry land shall be glad; the desert shall rejoice and blossom.”