Reading: Isaiah 35:1-10
The wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
like the crocus it shall blossom abundantly,
and rejoice with joy and singing.
The glory of Lebanon shall be given to it,
the majesty of Carmel and Sharon.
They shall see the glory of the LORD,
the majesty of our God.
Strengthen the weak hands,
and make firm the feeble knees.
Say to those who are of a fearful heart,
“Be strong, do not fear!
Here is your God.
He will come with vengeance,
with terrible recompense.
He will come and save you.”
Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy.
For waters shall break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
the haunt of jackals shall become a swamp,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
A highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Holy Way;
the unclean shall not travel on it,
but it shall be for God’s people;
no traveler, not even fools, shall go astray.
No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
And the ransomed of the LORD shall return,
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain joy and gladness,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.
Although I do enjoy the outdoors, I’ll confess I’m not really that much of a nature girl. Let’s just say, I would not survive in the wilderness without the basic necessities of life. I have no idea how to start a fire without matches or a lighter. I don’t know which berries are okay to eat and which ones will poison you. And, my deep-seeded fear of snakes would render me utterly immobile. Even so, there’s so much to love about Isaiah’s vision of wilderness and dry spaces, these seemingly unkempt places teeming with the Divine. In the places that seem lifeless and barren, Isaiah proclaims a God that bursts through with living water and the promise that what once went unheard is now joyously bursting with song; what was previously unseen is now an awesome display of God’s beautiful and bountiful creation; and the immobilizing fear of the unknown is replaced by an exuberant leap into the arms of a God who invites us into holy presence. Be strong and do not fear, Isaiah proclaims, for God will never abandon you to the dark spaces that threaten us in times of struggle. God in Christ Jesus and through the Holy Spirit walks with us on the Holy Way, turning darkness into light, fear into courage and strength, despair into hope.
—Lisa Raylene Barnes
God of wilderness and desert, we invite you into the dry and barren spaces of our lives. Quench our unending thirst for safety, courage, and accompaniment with your Living Water.