Mystery of the StumpAuthor: Natalie Bolt
What is it about human nature that resists change?
Perhaps it’s the discomfort that it causes or the pain that must happen for growth to occur. Perhaps it’s fear of the unknown or just simply that it’s more comfortable to stay where we are. Sometimes, staying unchanged has an illusion of safety so we choose not to stretch ourselves. Do you brave the risk of change to live in the rewards of a radical, risk-taking life of faith?
One of my favorite definitions of the word ‘life’ is the capacity for growth and continual change.
A while ago, I was taking a walk and happened upon a stump in the woods.
For some reason, I stopped to look at it and was reminded of a scripture – a scripture of change; a scripture of life. “A shoot will come up from the stump of Jesse; from his roots a Branch will appear.” Isaiah 11:1-2
Picture a stump. It’s the bottom part of a tree left in the ground after most of the tree has fallen or been cut down. When I picture a stump, I don’t think of life or growth or strength. I think of death or decrease or weakness. But Isaiah tells us that this stump becomes the very source of life and redemption.
This mystery sparked my curiosity. I started to ask God some questions… Why Jesse?
Why not David? At once, I was reminded of a moment in Jesse’s household when David, the least likely of Jesse’s line, was anointed by Samuel as king. “The Lord said rise and anoint him for this is the one.” Many years later after Goliath, caves, wars, wives and palaces, this shepherd boy, now a king is given a vision through the prophet Nathan in 2 Samuel 7. God promised that David’s line would be a lineage of power, goodness, and deliverance; an eternal kingdom. From His roots a Branch; that Branch being Jesus Christ.
But this promise didn’t appear to last long. Even David, the man after God’s own heart, shed so much blood that God didn’t want him to build the temple. Then there was the issue with Bathsheba and the murder of Uriah. The next in line, Solomon, was hungry for power, self-indulgent and filled with lust. After Solomon, it just got worse. How quickly this family tree fell. Isaiah was written ten generations after David, after Nathan’s vision, and after God’s promise for a righteous ruler! The stump of hope itself sat, unfulfilled. The line of promise seemed dead. When Isaiah wrote about this sprouting stump; these words of promise, something was stirring. Something was changing. Life itself was coming!
Jesus said that for a man to gain his life, he must lose it. He said that the kingdom of heaven is like the smallest seed you’ve ever heard of, like a treasure buried, like a secret pearl, like a found thing that was once lost.
Jesus sees the hope of life in every secret thing.
Jesus sees the hope of life in stumps, in dead promises and in unfulfilled dreams. He sees the hope of life in addicts and in prostitutes; in debt and in spiritual emptiness. He sees the hope of life in depression and in schizophrenia, in cancer and in aids. Jesus is life! He calls forth potential, life and abundance in the most unlikely of places. The stumps of our lives, our families, our ministries and our churches are waiting. Something is stirring! Things that seem dead and forgotten are filled with the hope of life in Christ. God is getting ready to pour out and to sprout up new life and new fruit. Don’t be discouraged when it feels like the ship is rocking and everything is changing. God is moving things and clearing the way for His Spirit to be unleashed, to overflow and to pour out. My prayer for each of us today is that we will brave the risk of change. That we will live in the rewards of a radical, risk-taking life of faith. My prayer is for one word from Heaven, one touch from Jesus, and one breathe from the Holy Spirit that says, “Life!”.