Prepare to listen. Remember today: The LORD has done great things for us, and we rejoiced. (Psalm 126:3)
Read Isaiah 43:16-21
16Thus says the LORD,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17who brings out chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
19I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20The wild animals will honour me,
the jackals and the ostriches;
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21the people whom I formed for myself
so that they might declare my praise.
Many years ago, I read these verses from Isaiah while in my own desperate wilderness experience. I was immediately struck with v19, ‘I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?’ I frustratedly replied to the Lord, No, I don’t see this new thing. I knew this passage has a far broader meaning than my personalized one, but I also knew biblical texts have many layers and speak to us in various ways. Israel first heard these words from their own wilderness experience—national crisis of exile in a foreign land, Babylon. The promise of Yahweh wasn’t a quick fix. God didn’t lift them out and place them in a place where they would thrive. That’s what I expected from God; to lift me out of my wilderness. I had to learn that, instead of lifting me out, the Lord makes a way through the wilderness. I had to keep walking through mine before I walked into a place where I could thrive. The new thing God is doing, and has done in Jesus, is, as Walter Brueggemann suggests, “a massive miracle that transforms all of life.” We may not see the entire transformation all at once, and it may take a while to walk through the wilderness, but it’s the hope towards which we move during Lent. The miracle of the cross is a ‘massive miracle’ that has and continues to transform all of life, including our own.
What words or phrases caught your attention in these verses? What do you believe God is saying to you through them?
Respond to Jesus in prayer
Lord Jesus, help me keep my eyes fixed on the new thing you have done and continue to do through your death and resurrection so that I discern the new thing in and around me today. Amen.
Go and live obediently in the world where God is doing a new thing.
Reading the Bible has always been essential to followers of Jesus. I've been reading, studying, teaching and writing reflections on biblical texts for as long as I can remember. I invite you to read the Bible with me during the Lent and into Easter Sunday.