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Stumps and Shoots: A Meditation on Isaiah 11:1-3

Isaiah 11.1-3 A shoot shall come out from the stock of Jesse, and a branch shall grow out of his roots. The spirit of the Lord shall rest on him, the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. His delight shall be in the fear of the Lord. (NRSV)

Some winters seem as if they will never end. Even the memory of green foliage fades. There are seasons like that in our life with God. We get so distracted with the busyness of our lives, even during the Christmas season, or maybe especially in the Christmas season, that even the memory of real contact with God is hard to recall.

Isaiah was inspired to see God’s salvation in the turning of the season. For Israel it had been a long hard winter of oppression by nations near and far. There seemed to be as little hope for Israel as there was for the royal line that appeared finished. David, son of Jesse, established that line and Solomon brought it to a peak of grandeur. Now little remained, a dead stump. But God allowed Isaiah to see in his mind’s eye a green shoot growing out of that old dead wood. God was going to do some-thing great by the power of the Spirit.

Followers of Jesus, who is the ultimate fulfillment of Isaiah’s vision, need never despair, of themselves, of their church, or of their community. God is always at work by the Spirit, bringing the new life made possible by Jesus. You may feel like an old stump, your church may seem as if it is approaching the end of its days, and the difficulties your community faces may seem overwhelming, but that fresh green shoot has come out from the stock of Jesse. His spirit is at work:

The spirit of wisdom and understanding, The spirit of counsel and might, The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord.

PRAYER: Lord, I believe, help my unbelief! Give me a glimpse of what Isaiah saw and help me to take heart.

Joe Delahunt, Pastor, First Baptist Church in New Haven, CT, and Forest Haven Board Member

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