Isaiah 40:1-44:5 (NIV)
Maria Roemhildt, Small Groups
“Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly…and proclaim that her years of hard service have been completed.”
Many portions from today’s readings are familiar to me through Christmas music or quotations in the New Testament. Although I’ve heard these words countless times and found them both beautiful and encouraging, there are many parts that have never made sense to me.
For example, “A voice of one calling: In the desert prepare the way for the Lord, make straight in the wilderness a highway for our Lord. Every valley shall be raised up, every mountain and hill made low; the rough ground shall become level, the rugged places a plain. And the glory of God will be revealed for all mankind to see it.”
In the New Testament we see this prophecy fulfilled through John the Baptist preparing the way for Jesus. However, after John, Jesus, and all the disciples, mountains, hills, valleys, and rough ground continue to abound in Jerusalem as well as in Vermont.
I’ve always thought of this verse concretely, thinking of physical mountains and valleys, but what if it is also a metaphor for my heart? What if the wilderness is my wandering in the world? What if mountains represent my pride that is so hard to let go, and valleys–those places of shame or pain too deep to ever climb out of?
What if this work of preparing the way for the Lord continues today: giving strength to the weary, increasing the power of the weak, turning deserts of despair into pools of hope, opening eyes that are blind to love or forgiveness, and freeing those enslaved by fears or gathering achievements? What if we are being led along a new route, where obscurity turns to brilliant light? What if God meets us where we are; not snuffing out our smoldering wicks or breaking beaten up spirits with heavier loads, but providing refreshing streams in the wastelands, strength to the worn-out, and his presence through the fires?
What if God calls us by name and pours out his Spirit and blessing upon us, not to continue our lives in our previous ways, but to travel unfamiliar paths and sing new songs? So that, “Now all of us, with our faces unveiled, reflect the glory of the Lord as if we are mirrors; and so we are being transformed, metamorphosed, into His same image from one radiance of glory to another, just as the Spirit of the Lord accomplishes it.” 2 Corinthians 3:18 (The Voice)