Life after death

Today, I felt more dead than alive.

Okay, maybe that’s a little morbid, but you have days like this, right?

When you wake up and everything seems wrong from the minute your feet hit the floor.

When you drift from moment to moment, not really engaging in anything, just surviving till the next thing you have to do.

When the words that come out of your mouth are unlovely and produce no life in others.

When you’re sure if someone physically hurt you, you’d feel no pain.

I don’t know why, but I needed a redo from the first minutes of the day, and for the rest of the waking hours, I felt … off. Like I was steps behind where I needed to be.

I tried to reset by reading the Bible, taking a nap and listening to music. Nothing seemed to help break the funk. Not even coffee.

In many ways, what I was feeling today is reflective of the season of life we’re in. We’re mourning, in a sense, the loss of the familiar and the death of expectations. Sometimes, I think our dreams are dead, too.

But maybe it’s not death, exactly, but dormancy.

Months ago, a large and beautiful tree on our block was cut down, chopped into branches and mulch. I don’t know why. I didn’t ask. Maybe it was dead. Or diseased. Or inconvenient.  This stump remains, and the kids and I pass it almost daily on our walks around the block or down the street to check on the cows. A few weeks ago, I noticed a shoot growing out of the stump.

And leaves.

I don’t know much about trees or botany. Heck, I can hardly keep potted plants alive. (I have a cactus that’s thriving. I think I may have found my niche plant.)

But that stump with its new growth gives me hope. Like maybe the end of something isn’t always the end.

Earlier this month, on a family hike, I saw another such dead-but-not-quite-dead-yet phenomenon.

“That’s a weed, not a tree,” my husband ever-so-gently reminded me.

At the time, it didn’t matter. Something green was growing out of something that appeared to be dead. The second time past the plant, I took a closer look and found more growth.

And something stirred in my soul.

Awakened, really.

I serve a God who specializes in bringing the dead to life, and not in a Zombie Apocalypse sort of way. But in a “I once was lost now I’m found” sort of way.

When He walked the earth, He raised people from death to life physically, and ushered in the end of death with His resurrection.

Not long after these dead trees gave me hope, God spoke again, this time through His word. Sometimes, when Scripture is being read, I’m not as attentive as I’d like to be because I’m trying to quiet a noisy 2-year-old or respond to his questions or keep him from climbing over the back of the pew into someone else’s lap.

These words I heard crystal clear, and not only did my ears perk, my soul perked.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord says: I will take a branch from the top of a tall cedar, and I will plant it on the top of Israel’s highest mountain. It will become a majestic cedar, sending forth its branches and producing seed. Birds of every sort will nest in it, finding shelter in the shade of its branches. And all the trees will know that it is I, the Lord, who cuts the tall tree down and makes the short tree grow tall. It is I who makes the green tree wither and gives the dead tree new life. I, the Lord, have spoken, and I will do what I said!” – Ezekiel 17:22-24 (emphasis added)

What might look like death can be transformed in the Lord into new life.

It will certainly hurt, for a time, or forever. It won’t be easy. It might be ugly.

But it will not be without hope. Without possibility. Without a future.

Amen.

Praise the Lord.

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