The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Isaiah 35:1
(I rarely post my sermons on the Better Off Read website. But today is an exception. The following are excerpts taken from Blossoms of Life, a sermon given at Life in Christ Center, The Dalles, Oregon for their Women’s Spring Fling Tea on April 6, 2013.)
The Blossoms of Life
Throughout the Bible there are several references to nature, gardening and farming. These are used to symbolize and represent biblical concepts and even describe prophetic events. Jesus constantly used these references in His parables and sermons to illustrate spiritual truths. Here are a few examples:
- Parable of the unfruitful fig tree
- Parable of the sower
- Parable of the wheat and the tares
- He compared faith to a mustard seed
- He compared Himself to a vine, the body of believers to branches and our Heavenly Father to the Master Gardener
So then, regarding blossoms in the wilderness, what spiritual truths can we obtain?
1The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, 2it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendor of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the Lord, the splendor of our God. 3Strengthen the feeble hands, steady the knees that give way; 4say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, do not fear; your God will come, he will come with vengeance; with divine retribution he will come to save you.” Isaiah 35:1-4
A Thing Or Two About Blossoms
I have gleaned (no pun intended) a lot about blossoms in the last 10 years. That was when we moved to a house with enough property to indulge in the hobby of gardening. There also happens to be an apple orchard just a few hundred feet from my front door and a cherry orchard a few blocks away. If you have ever gardened, you know blossoms equal potential fruit. In scripture, we see the blossom–fruit connection in Isaiah 27: 6, “In days to come Jacob will take root, Israel will bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit.” In the natural, blossoms are protected at all cost. We learned this abruptly one night when we were awakened for the first time by a very eery and alarming sound which turned out to be smudge pots and very loud wind machines. In the Northwest, Spring temperatures are the most crucial in growing fruit. From early March through the first few days of May, nighttime temperatures frequently drop below freezing. Depending on the stage of development, from first bud to small fruit, these chilly temperatures can ruin an entire crop and so smudge pots are strategically placed. These pots burn fuel to warm the air near the trees and the wind machines are used to keep the air circulating, which can raise the temperature by a few degrees.
In May and June, the farmers keep a vigil for rain. If the rain is allowed to remain on the almost ripened cherries, they will crack and then be worthless. Enter the orchard helicopters which cost the farmer $600 or more per flight to “blow dry” their crops. It can sound like a war zone when they fly back and forth over the orchards attempting to rid the fruit from the extra moisture.
If the fruit makes it through the freezing temperatures and the summer rains, they still must survive the birds! Birds, which typically eat their body weight in food every day can peck at the fruit and damage its appearance and allow mold, yeast, bacteria and insects to cause secondary spoilage. To prevent crop losses due to bird damage, which can range from 5% to 50% or more, orchard cannons are used to scare away the birds. I will never forget the first time I heard an orchard cannon. My husband was out-of-town and I was awakened early one morning to what I thought were gun shots!
Living near the orchards has definitely cost me many a good night’s sleep. But I am grateful for the lessons learned. Just observing the stress and anxiety the farmer experiences as he tries to produce his fruit is exhausting! In contrast, Jesus in His sermon on worrying said, “Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin; and yet I say to you that even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.” (Matthew 6:28-29 NKJV) His way is effortless. No smudge pots and wind machines. No helicopters. No orchard cannons. All we must to do to be fruitful is “abide” in Him. “I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing.”(John 15:5) God’s blossoms and fruit are far superior than anything produced from man’s best efforts. His fruit reflects His glory and splendor (Isaiah 35:2) and it is abundant! The Hebrew word used for blossom in our main verse is parach, which means to blossom profusely, to flourish! (Isaiah 35:1)
Our Master Gardener Likes To Cultivate In Impossible Places
I have seen and heard of plants budding and blooming in some pretty unusual ways. When we first moved into our new house, we planted corn. At harvest time, we didn’t have much success and so we never planted corn again. However, seven years later, we were amazed to see seven stalks of corn come up on the other side of our yard which had no irrigation and was far from where we originally had planted it.
Every year I plant Petunias in hanging baskets around our pool. (In the Northwest they are not perennials.) One spring, in an unlandscaped part of our yard, far from the hanging baskets, there grew a patch of the brightest fuchsia Wave Petunias I have ever seen!
Have you ever heard of Methuselah? Not the man, the plant. In 1973, two-thousand year old seeds that turned out to be from the extinct Date Palm were excavated at Masada in the Judaean desert. Scientists later planted some of them and in 2005, a seed sprouted! Last year the plant, lovingly named after the oldest man in the Bible, measured over eight feet tall!
A year ago, the New York Times reported that living plants were generated from the fruit of a little arctic flower that according to them, died almost 32,000 years ago. The fruit was stored by an arctic ground squirrel in its burrow on the tundra of northeastern Siberia and lay permanently frozen until excavated by scientists a few years ago. I would like to have been around when that plant blossomed!
I don’t know about you, but these remarkable stories encourage me to ask, “If this can be done in the natural, what is our amazing Master Gardener able to do in the supernatural? I am reminded of how Jehovah God caused Aaron’s lifeless dead rod to bud, blossom AND produce almonds! (Numbers 17:8) According to our main text, our God again promises to cultivate profuse blossoms out of nothing in the most impossible places. The desert, the parched land and the wilderness! (Isaiah 35:1) Out of what wilderness circumstances in your life does our God want to bring blossoms of hope and in time flourishing fruit?
Last June, I shared about how God brought forth a blossom in my daughter’s wilderness of disability. CLICK HERE to read The Wilderness Will Rejoice And Blossom. So much fruit has come out of her life. (“Coincidentally”, not too long ago, I was watching the video recording of her baby dedication from 16 years ago and was very blessed as I heard the pastor share today’s main verse out of Isaiah 35 and declare that the name Chloe means blossom!) Nothing is too hard for Him. He can bring blossoms and fruit out of the deserts of illness, grief, divorce, wayward children . . . There is no parched land too impossible for Him to cultivate the most amazing fruit. And, I am compelled to add, we will never know this side of heaven the limitless potential of the seeds which spring from that amazing fruit! LH
(I decided to share this sermon on my blog because I see it as another Burning Bush experience due to the following reasons: 1)When I arrived for the Women’s Spring Fling, I was completely surprised when I saw cherry orchards in full bloom encircled about the church on all of the surrounding hills. It was a magnificent sight and I was encouraged by God’s confirmation through this glorious “coincidence”! 2)The day got more interesting as the women who were doing special music chose the song, Steady My Heart by Kari Jobe, which apart from the Holy Spirit might seem unusual for a bright springy event with the theme BLOSSOMS OF LIFE. However, it went right along with what the Lord had put on my heart to share. You can view the Youtube video of the song below. 3)The last “coincidence” occurred as I checked my Twitter account on the way to our hotel. Kelly Minter had retweeted a story about a friend of hers, Angie Smith, who had suffered the tragic loss of a baby daughter. (CLICK HERE to read story.) Angie had planted a tree in her daughter’s memory and was eagerly waiting for it to bloom. She also shared the cover of her soon-to-be-published book she had written in honor of her beloved Audrey. Check out the cover! We can’t even imagine the immeasurable healing fruit that will come from her wilderness of loss! )