Abundance is sometimes hard to see. We hear and see so much negative, the same as it was when Isaiah wrote these words ... "Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow. Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up. These events will bring great honor to the Lord’s name; they will be an everlasting sign of his power and love” [Isaiah 55:13]. The nation was in shambles. War was outside their door. They lived in fear of Assyria and other terrorist nations. Last week's sermon and this weeks message both deal with the abundance and renewal God brings in the midst of what we see as unbreachable barriers. Abundance is hard to see.
Two quick stories. First, when I served St. Luke UMC I had a friend who was plagued with drug addiction. She lost her battle with this addiction and we were all sad. The weekend before she died she sold little cups of plants to raise money for the kids at church (Teresa had a great heart). Two weeks later during a vicious cold snap that killed most annual plants I went out behind our house to do an errand. I looked and in the midst of the sub-freezing weather Teresa's plants were green, growing and thriving. To this day I believe this was a message from God about His provision, His renewal, His abundance and His power in the midst of our worst situations.
The second story (you will see the video Sunday) is an amazing story of what is called "trophic cascade." This happens when one environmental event, usually the introduction of a predatory species, cascades into a domino effect of changes below the apex predator. In the 1990's the wolf was reintroduced into the ecosystem of Yellowstone Park. Some of you are saying, "But wolves kill and eat other animals ... why did they do that?" They did it because the natural world of Yellowstone (by the way, God is the creator of this natural world) 'naturally' has apex predators like the wolf. The cascading events from the introduction of the wolf into the park has dramatically changed, for the better, the ecosystem, even having an effect on the rivers.
Some of you are saying "How can this be true?" Gotta come Sunday to find out. But maybe, just maybe, God's design and plan is better than our destructive modification of that plan. Maybe it is good for species like deer to have predators that cull and thin their numbers. Maybe God's plan for nature, people and the world is better than our artificial ideas of how things should work. Maybe God uses unexpected and amazing things to tell us He is in control and He will cause some amazing things to happen in the world in which we find ourselves. Maybe Isaiah knew more than we do and for certain God knows more than we do. This is the God who says He will bring revival in the midst of a spiritually barren wasteland. Come Jesus ... we are awake! Randy