The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad, the desert shall rejoice and blossom…
When I was seven, my parents decided to leave our home in Alabama and move to Seattle. My grandparents were convinced that we would probably be attacked by wild natives there. The whole idea was terrifying.
We set off in the car. This was long before the days of fast food (our only possibility was Howard Johnson’s where they had PEANUT BUTTER AND JELLY SANDWICHES). As we approached Texas, the weather began to turn bad. As it got colder, we kept driving further south trying to find some patch of warmer weather until we were finally carefully sliding along near the Texas/Mexico border. We found shelter (at the Blue Bonnet Motel—which gave Bates a run for the money). The next morning, we arose to a winter wonderland.
When you think of desert you think hot and dry and cactus (or at least that was what was in my first-grade textbook). It was snowing. At first, I was terrified but then, somehow, the idea of a cactus covered in snow became a thing of beauty. We stopped briefly to stare at such exotic and unfamiliar life. I realized that the terror of something new could also be the start of something different—and that “different” did not mean bad.
In Isaiah 35, we are told that the desert will rejoice and blossom and “your God will come.” It is a message to all of us, that even though we are scared in our own wilderness and do not know what is to come—that there will be goodness and God will take care of us. All those things that we once feared could be turned into something good.
The vision of a single cactus covered with snow was that message for me. I realized that I was not alone and that beauty lay in things I did not know. Isaiah tells us our eyes will be opened to the beauty that abounds in land we once thought barren.
We need to hear that message now more than ever. Even in the darkest of times, love will once again blossom abundantly.