The Hope of Water in the Wasteland

The picture of a stream in a wasteland welling up is one that has been hovering through my mind lately. Water rising from the ground where none currently exists. Life being given an opportunity to flourish where nothing breathes. It is a picture of hope, and that is something we can never have enough of. God speaks to the Israelites about the wilderness throughout the Old Testament. It was an analogy they could understand and picture quickly as the wilderness was never far away. It was also a place with historical significance as the Israelites were reintroduced to God in the wilderness after 400 years of slavery in Egypt.

God speaks to the Israelites about the wilderness throughout the Old Testament. It was an analogy they could understand and picture quickly as the wilderness was never far away. It was also a place with historical significance for the Israelites who were reintroduced to God in the wilderness after 400 years of slavery in Egypt.

I don’t know the tone Isaiah was using, but I can’t help but think it was excited and joyfully shouting. That may not be the tone prophets usually spoke in, but how could you not with these verses!

 

Isaiah 43:16-21

This is what the Lord says— he who made a way through the sea,  a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick:
“Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past; See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness, and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, the people I formed for myself that they may proclaim my praise.

These verses are personal to the present situation the Israelites were in, but they also hinted at the Redeemer coming to make all things new. God’s promises apply to us as well as his children. Today this is what these phrases mean to me:

Forget the former things: Do not dwell in the choices that have been made that dishonor                                                       God or yourself. Do not hold grudges.

Do not dwell on the past: Forget the evils committed towards you, look at the present and                                                    respond to all that is happening in front of you.

See, I am doing a new thing!: God’s promise here is so exciting. He is not stagnant, he                                                                   changes things.

Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?: We need to be attentive to what is going on to see something happening. Isaiah is telling the Israelites God is already moving! It’s hard to see someone else moving when we are running around yourself. My OneWord 2017 is still, and this question reminds me I need to keep my eyes open as I am still. God is moving even when he calls me to pause.

I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland: God reminds us he is our guide, provider, and giver of life. No dry spot is to far removed for him to be able to fill with water. We are not called to find our own way out of the wilderness. God says he is the one who makes a way.

I think the reason I imagine Isaiah shouting with joyful anticipation as he speaks to the Israelites is because I need his energy. The promise of something new, a path carved out in the desert requires faith that comes from the depths of stubbornness in a trial from one who demands to see light in the middle of the night. For me, that faith to believe the wilderness will grow life begins with sitting still looking with expectation for new growth where it doesn’t seem possible.

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