Anticipating…

– Henry Neufeld

1Let the desert and the dry place rejoice
Let the dry land blossom like a crocus.
2Let them spring up abundantly
With exultation and shouts of joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
The splendour of Carmel and Sharon.
They will see the glory of YHWH,
The splendour of our God.
3Strengthen the weak hands,
And straighten the lame knees.
4Say to the worriers, be strong!
Don’t be afraid!
Behold, your God comes in vengeance
Our God is a God of retribution,
and he’s coming to save us.
5Then the eyes of the blind will be opened,
And the ears of the deaf unblocked.
6Then will the lame leap like a deer,
And the tongue of the dumb will shout for joy.
Water will indeed spring forth in the desert,
Streams in the dry land.
7The mirage will become a pond,
And the dry place springs of water.
The haunt of jackals will become a resting place,
Grassland will become reeds and rushes. — Isaiah 35:1-7 (HN)

Have you ever wanted something very badly, and felt that you could actually see and feel it? Perhaps it was an article of clothing, and you could just see yourself appearing in church wearing it or at a party. Most of us guys have experienced this looking at a new car, I suspect. You take a test drive, and you picture yourself parking that car at work, showing it to your friends. You’ll feel great driving it down the road.

Yesterday I talked about being the same person here on earth and in the kingdom of heaven. New body, new address, but both persons are there to please God. Today, I’m using a scripture that talks about that anticipation. This scripture is written to people who are toiling through the desert. They are not currently living in that flowering land with the majestic forests of Lebanon. They are not traveling among springs of water, nor are they on a safe highway.

They’re anticipating. Anticipation can get so strong that we can see where we’re headed, we can feel what it would be like to have what we want, but it isn’t there. You won’t find many translations that use the word “mirage” in verse 7. (The Revised English Bible is one.) But it’s a legitimate translation, and I think it fits with the theme of the chapter.

As you travel through the desert, you see where you’re going and it looks like a mirage. There’s a pool of water just ahead. You may have seen many such in your Christian journey, only to reach that place and find that it’s not really there.

Many of us have experienced times of worship that felt much like this—almost, but not quite. I just about made it to the cool waters, but it didn’t quite happen. We get disappointed, but hopefully we keep on looking, waiting, and trusting in God.

Because our passage today talks about a time when that mirage becomes a pool of water, when our thirst will be quenched and our joy will be complete. We’re not good at anticipating. We’re very quick to assume that something we can’t have now will never be available. We give up hope.

Are you looking for that one, greatest spiritual experience? Are you waiting for God’s next move in your life? Are you hoping for full fellowship?

The mirage will become a pool of water! Hope for it! Expect it! Wait for it!

(Note: I got some ideas for this devotional at Rev. Geoffrey Lentz’s “Lectionary at Lunch” at First UMC, Pensacola. If you live in the area and can get away at lunch, consider attending. It’s a great experience.)

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