As the month of March begins to tease many of us in the North Dakota and Minnesota region with hints of spring, I cannot help but find my hunger for seasonal renewal getting stronger. With the days getting ever longer and the snow melting more and more each day, it is hard to not be distracted with anticipation for winter’s end.
This anticipation brings to my mind a hunger in my soul for replenishment; a hunger every bit as strong if not stronger than the one I have for springtime. Of course, when I think about my soul finding some semblance of renewal I am drawn readily toward the rich lyrics of Isaiah 40. Consider some of that transcendent passage from the Hebrew Scriptures, specifically Isaiah 40:28-31:
Have you not known? Have you not heard?
The LORD is the everlasting God,
the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He does not faint or grow weary;
his understanding is unsearchable.
He gives power to the faint,
and to him who has no might he increases strength.
Even youths shall faint and be weary,
and young men shall fall exhausted;
but they who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength;
they shall mount up with wings like eagles;
they shall run and not be weary;
they shall walk and not faint.
Powerful words. Captivating images. And the word that I am most drawn to, at least today, is the simple word renew in Isaiah 40:31. It brings to my mind springtime—springtime for my soul, and I need that very much today.
The word comes from the Hebrew word chalaph, and in the grammatical form found in this seemingly timeless passage it refers to new buds appearing on a tree as winter winds down and springtime dawns. It is a word that speaks to the awakening of a tree’s lifeblood, its springtime flow into the tiny branches and twigs that reach outward from the tree’s base. The word chalaph presses us to look for the tiniest growth, and to celebrate it as a sign that something new has arrived. It is a picturesque word that makes me look inward, toward my soul, on whose little branches I too can find the tiniest buds. They who wait for the LORD shall renew their strength. Those who wait upon the Lord shall have their souls invigorated, growth shall appear, tiny though it may be, pointing toward new life and a healthy season to come.
Picture that today, you who are worn down. Ask the Father above to let the buds of replenishment and grace sprout on the winter-dead branches of your tired heart. Then . . . enjoy the new season that comes.