It should have been dead. Broken and shredded by fierce tornado winds that ripped through Americus in 2007, the tree was then reduced by a chain saw to an unsightly stump. It certainly looked dead squatting there in front of the dark, equally lifeless shell that was once the local hospital.
For weeks it looked dead. Nobody paid much attention or gave it much thought. But something unseen was happening. While we were busy repairing and rebuilding, the old tree was busy, too. It sprouted tiny buds and, day by day, new branches unfolded fresh leaves. What seemed dead still lived.
Maybe other things aren’t as dead as they seem either - marriages in which the life has faded, friendships so badly battered that survival seems impossible, a parent-child relationship that looks hopeless. Or maybe it’s a life that’s been blown away by drug or alcohol abuse. Perhaps your own heart seems to have grown cold and lifeless. Is there any hope?
Always! The Creator who put life in that tree can breathe new life into any person or relationship. He’s proven that. For three days, Jesus lay dead. His followers were at a loss for what to do next, so they went back to their former jobs. But God rekindled life in Jesus and raised him from the grave. Now, amazingly, he not only offers to do the same for us, but also to unleash that same life-giving power in our lives.
Paul’s prayer for Christians was that “the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, . . . and his incomparably great power for us who believe. That power is like the working of his mighty strength, which he exerted in Christ when he raised him from the dead” (Ephesians 1:18-20).
Read that again! The same power that returned life to the lifeless body of Jesus is promised to his followers. We can always have hope because of “him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us” (3:20).
It should have been dead. That could have been said of the body of Jesus as easily as it was of a beat up, sawn-off stump. It could be said of countless lives and relationships.
But, Jesus still lives. The tree still lives. So may we all.