EVEN IN BARREN PLACES

I have always wanted to visit the Volcanoes National Park in Hawaii. I think volcanoes are fascinating. No one knows when they will erupt. And they are all over our planet. But at the National Park you get to see several volcanoes and the damage their eruptions have done.

I was so excited to visit we actually arrived before the Visitor Center opened. I talked with a Park Ranger who confirmed my plan for the day. She encouraged us to take our hike on the Kīlauea Iki Trail first before the parking lot filled up and there were too many hikers on the trail.

The four-mile trail descends 400 feet through a lush rain forest to the floor of the solidified Kīlauea Iki Crater lava lake. You can walk all the way across the still-steaming crater floor. And peer into the 1959 vent that erupted to a height of 1900 feet located below the Pu‘u Pua‘i cinder cone. Then return on the other side to the crater’s rim.

It was a great hike down to the caldera floor. As we walked across the hardened lava I saw something quite unusual. There was a small tree growing through a crack in the crater floor. How could anything possibly grow in such a hostile environment? It was shocking to see leaves and even some flowers on a tree rooted in such total barrenness.

To be barren was considered a curse in the ancient world. In fact, it was even grounds for divorce. In Genesis 18:13 it says, “The Lord asked Abraham, ‘Why did Sarah laugh? Does she doubt that she can have a child in her old age?’” Sarah laughed at the thought of having a child at her advanced age but God miraculously gave her Isaac. Several other women in the Bible were barren; Rebekah, Rachel, Hannah and Elizabeth. And all of those women eventually gave birth to a child. Their sons are some of the greatest men to ever live: Jacob, Joseph, Samuel and John the Baptist.

The reality is God can do something new in any situation, including abject barrenness. He can bring life when there appears to be no hope. God can create growth in all kinds of environments. If you find yourself in a barren place God has not abandoned you. There may be a time of waiting but don’t believe nothing can be birthed or grow in barrenness because it positively can.

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