“Instead of the thorn bush will grow the juniper, and instead of briers the myrtle will grow. This will be for the LORD's renown, for an everlasting sign, that will endure forever."
I have probably read this verse half a dozen times or so throughout my lifetime. But this week I decided to meditate on it and dig in for a deeper understanding. The word MYRTLE stuck out to me with a big question mark hanging in the air. “What in the world is myrtle?”. Wastelands and thorn bushes I understand, but what is the significance of myrtle?
Here’s what I found: Myrtle is a strong-smelling shrub found in the Middle East that is covered with white flowers and dark berries. It is the plant that is used to form our allspice. Myrtle illustrates life and fertility and the leaves cluster so densely that you can’t even see the branches. In the Bible specifically, myrtle isn’t mentioned until the time of Israel’s captivity where this plant is used to represent a recovery and establishment of God’s promises.
Once dead, useless briers are now becoming fragrant and fruitful myrtle. In the once empty places of life, a new garden grows so packed with promise and blessing that you can’t even see the roots. In the most unlikely of places, God’s promises can be recovered and established. This is what God does. This is who He is. This is what He spoke to Israel and this is what He speaks to us.
I grow tired of waiting for God’s promises, and I admit that the more time passes the more impossible it seems for those promises to be pulled off. Yet, as I run into scriptures like Isaiah 55:13, I know the Lord is sovereignly speaking, making the words that have grown stale in my heart become fresh again. So, I choose to hope today. Though every miracle seems miles away, I choose to believe He can work even here in the wasteland of my waiting.
What is the myrtle miracle God has placed on your heart for this season? What promise is God stirring up again that seems so far off, yet the one that you desperately long for?
Recall the promise. Dust off the dream.
Get your hopes up.
Jen is a pastor, worship leader, writer, and songwriter living in Napa, California.