Behold, I am doing 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. Isaiah 43:19
I struggle with change. Change produces a churning of uneasiness in my stomach as if I am swaying on suspension bridge strung high across a vast expanse.
As an introvert, change requires groundwork for me. My reactions to new things are directly correlated to the amount of preparation I am given. In other words I don’t do spontaneous well. Once I am grounded in my surroundings, like a well planted tree, I am not easily moved. Change, whether it is good or bad, expected or unexpected, throws me for a loop. The unknown of change is like a wilderness.
Needless to say, the past ten months have brought rapid unnerving change into my life. Maybe you too have felt toppled by changes this past year. These new changing landscapes require navigation on a steep learning curve.
In the same way, the Israelites were no strangers to change. When the book of Isaiah was written, they were crying out for freedom from the bondage of Babylon. They were far from home. Captive. They were desperate for change. They could not see a way out of their dark situation and they were losing hope. Their faith in God was slipping away.
In the midst of this desperate emotional and physical landscape, the prophet Isaiah reminds Israel of God’s past faithful deliverance. The images presented in verses 17 and 18 would not have been lost on them. The story of the miraculous parting of the Red Sea and ultimate destruction of the mighty Egyptian army was embedded deep in their collective memory. God was calling the people to remember how He had rescued them before. In the same way, God calls us to remember His past faithfulness in our lives.
But, the message doesn’t stop there. It continues with words of hope. No matter how well our minds know that God is faithful, our hearts need something to hold on to when we are in dark places. Verse 19 offers us hope, if we will stop and look for it. Through the prophet, God tells his people: remember my faithfulness, then pause for a moment. Stop and look. Look and See it. See it and perceive it. Perceive it and notice it. I am doing new things. I am making something new and wonderful out of what you are going through. If you will take a moment and look around you will see it. Things may look dry and bleak right now, but I, your God, am making a river in the desert.
So often this past year has felt dry and bleak, but in the midst of this quarantine, isolate, shelter at home, keep your distance wilderness I have seen God. When I stop and look I can catch glimpses of the rivers He has been building: restored intimacy in relationships, prayer warriors raised up, priorities shifted, and a dependency on Him built.
When we find ourselves lost in a wilderness of change or uncertainty, desperate for a way out, seeking direction, let’s remember how God delivered us in the past. Let’s look for what He is currently doing, tune into His presence, and trust Him to lead us from the past, through the wilderness safely home. He never leaves us. We just need to look.
Between a husband, 2 sons, and teaching high school my sanity is found in running and Starbucks. I have a circle of running friends who inspire me to be authentic and real as I live a life of faith before them.