Have you ever read a piece of scripture, felt like God was saying something to you, and found yourself unable to convert that into actual words? This is not an unknown state for me, and I found myself here, once again, when I was led to Isaiah 40, and read a familiar piece of encouraging scripture.
In the NIV it is even titled “Comfort for God’s People”, so very well worth the time to read it!
The latter part of this piece of scripture is probably the more familiar, and quoted, section – it’s all about how when we walk in God’s strength, we’ll have strength and rise up like an eagle, despite our age (well that’s my paraphrased version of it anyway).
But it was verses 3 to 5 that really grabbed my attention.
In the English Standard Version it says it like this:
“A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”
I read different versions and got no further forward in understanding what I thought God might be saying to me.
I looked up commentaries by Matthew Henry, Gill and a Pulpit Commentary on my phone’s Bible Hub app (a brilliant app by the way, and free, so worth downloading it). Their words were familiar, and detailed, yet didn’t help me one bit.
This morning I picked up my copy of the Street Bible (now called Word on the Street) which is a great paraphrase of the Bible. And I suddenly saw something a little clearer. To be honest, it was something of relief this morning!
The author penned those verses like this:
“What’s that voice? Drifting in from the wasteland, ‘Give us a motorway. A straight line of lines. An M1 for God to travel on. Flatten those dips; penetrate those mountains. Make it flat all the way for God’s cavalcade to come.’ “
As a family we are in a bit of a state of flux at this time, beyond the issues of Coid-19!
We moved to do a job, at the start of the year, that was really nothing like we’d been led to believe it would be - and nothing like we were promised. Resigning was a welcome relief and a blessing for us, done with the support of some amazing people. But this sort of stuff doesn’t really help you settle in to a new place, home or job!
And we’ve had major issues with our home since, literally, the first day we arrived in it. Water through a ceiling, no working shower for a month and much, much more! Our landlord is, finally, being forced by the Local Council to make some long over-due repairs, which is a blessing – Praise God!
Meanwhile my wife has started a new job - and a dream job of hers. It is, in many ways a look back for her, using a long ago gained qualification as a Probation Officer. But doing something she loves, which is great, and a relief, because at least one of us has a good and secure job. In this season of her life, she is probably more able and capable than she could have been so many years ago.
Throw in the issues of Covid-19 and you can see why we’re in something of a transitional phase of life and waiting on God for direction on a number of life issues
God has been so very good to us, and we’ve been so honoured and privileged to have so many dear friends, old and new, making life what we need it to be through this season of life. With confident, secure and flexible children, who really enjoy being with one another - and God’s Goodness - we’re in a great place as a family.
And yet we’ve still felt like we’re waiting on something for a while now. And then I read Isiah 40 verses 3 to 5. In the Street Bible, it makes more sense to me – clear a path, make room for God and be expectant.
I also stumbled across an article by John Piper’s “Desiring God” website, and found myself reading about three types of joy: https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/souls-are-our-reward
Something was beginning to make sense.
As a family we’ve been listening to our church each Sunday, who have had a series on Joy – fighting for it and to keep it. As family we’ve felt increasingly pulled towards this same subject – being expectant of joy, and goodness from God in our life.
But we look at our home with the issues outstanding which the landlord is being forced to address.
But we look at the reason we came to our current home, which was never going to be a possibility due to a really poor employer.
But we look at Covid and the extra difficulties of doing life during lockdown.
…But then we put all the above together, and realise that we need to be preparing for God to do something for us, but actively waiting - ie doing all we can to be ready for whatever and wherever He is leading us as a family; and fighting for joy - and fighting to keep it, and being expectant of joy too.
God is good, and will lead us. Where He leads us He will provide for us.
When life looks confusing, we need to look up (another topic our church has been looking at recently) to God and trust His view as so much better than ours.
Lauren Daigle sings it better than I can type:
If you are wondering where the joy has gone, or are wondering what direction you need to take in the coming weeks and months, or are simply wondering how you’re gonna make it through the next weeks and months with unemployment rising and much more. Then perhaps, like me, you need to read Isaiah 40, prepare for God to do something amazing, and be expectant of it.
And by ‘prepare’, scripture is really talking about us making room for us to see what God is leading us to do, and that means repenting – making ourselves right with God, so when He does show us the path He wants us on, we’ll be willing, ready and able to follow Him. All while knowing that, in the meantime, this is the best place for us to be learning and preparing to be more like Him and more ready for Heaven.
So let’s clear the decks of our expectations and demands, make some room so God can show His [much better] plan.
Written by Andy B