The Grass Withers

Spring has arrived in Minnesota. The lilacs are in bloom and the trees are in bud. The grass has turned green and my days of mowing have begun. Vibrant life surrounds us.

Still, in the back of my mind, is this nagging sense. This season will pass. The trees in bud will drop their leaves. The grass will wither.  Spring is transitory and fleeting.

A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:6-8

Robert C. Roberts in his book Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian Virtues reflects on Isaiah’s message,

You are grass: your life is a blooming and a fading, a flourishing and a withering, a birthing and a dying. This thought frequents the human mind – though mostly in its recesses. Walking to work, peeling potatoes, chatting at a cozy party over a glass of wine, holding hands with your spouse, playing silly games with your children. And there’s the lurking thought: flesh fading and disappearing, withering grass. (Robert C. Roberts. Spiritual Emotions: A Psychology of Christian Virtues (Kindle Locations 663-665).

Our mortality can never be totally denied. We may try to push the thought of death far from our minds, yet death will come to us all. Roberts continues,

But at times this truth comes home with a special shock, and what is only a nagging uneasiness changes into outright terror: the sudden absurd death of a friend, a close brush with accidental death in the midst of play, a pain that I interpret as the first symptom of a dread disease. (Roberts, (Kindle Locations 665-667).

So if we are such transitory beings who know that death awaits us, why not just despair and turn to drugs, alcohol, sex or some other pain killer to escape that reality? Because God our creator has provide a steadfast hope for us.

A person who is inclined to view his own life honestly and admit without casting his eyes aside that all flesh is grass will welcome the thought of an enduring rock amidst the flux of things. Isaiah’s preaching, if we really hear it, touches our deepest need. He ministers to the worry that pervades all our thoughts. But why does he say that the word of our God endures forever? Wouldn’t it be enough to proclaim that God is eternal, that he stands forever? (Kindle Locations 678-679). Kindle Edition.

No, God’s eternal nature is not enough for us as humans, but rather God’s eternal connection to us, his word of steadfast love and mercy is what we need to heal our fear. God is not only eternal, but has created us with an eternal longing to be connected, to hear the message of God’s love.

When I die, I trust God’s first word to me will be, “Beloved child, welcome home.” And it will be a word that only God can speak and my heart hear.

Lord Jesus, calm my fear with your word of grace.

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