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Advent Devotional Day 11

Isaiah 40:3-5

Have you ever been in wilderness?  Not the kind of wilderness where you live in humble connection with the natural world, but the wilderness that Isaiah and the gospel writers endured with their people. Exile. Dragged off to Babylon or exiled in their own land under the boot of the Roman occupation.  Exile.  Desolate.  Bereft.  Demoralized.  Individual and national identity subjugated to the arrogance of a ruler who wastes precious, energy and life-giving resources in the service of ego.  Thinking himself a god.  And people, from their own fear or arrogance or sense of need holding that ego in place. 

To these exiles, Isaiah writes that it is not an arrogant ruler, but rather, it is Jehovah, the Eternal One, it is Elohim, the mighty one, who is seeking passage through the wilderness of their desolation, to heal and restore their broken hearts and bodies and spirits, against all odds.  As someone once said, “It’s about making a highway in your heart for your God to return – for you – in your exile and wilderness.” 

I started thinking, what must it have been like for them to hear those words in the midst of wilderness and exile?  To hear the promise of valleys lifted up, mountains brought low, crooked ways made straight, rough places smoothed out, God’s glory for all to see, God keeping God’s word.  How could they know it was real – for them?  Words matter and encourage.  Experiences transform. 

I started thinking about how I have been blessed to be part of a 12-step recovery group.  I arrived, deep in exile and wilderness. I met this group of people who openly and repeatedly declared that their only task to welcome the one who still suffers and to share their hearts – from their own exile and wilderness and from their own recovery of strength and hope. I did appreciate their honesty, but what overwhelmed me was the way they were absolutely “on purpose,” crying out to me from their wilderness to mine, We’ve prepared a way – for you – so you can, in turn, prepare a highway for your God to return – for you. 

So I’m wondering, 

•How have you experienced exile, wilderness?  

•Who do you see experiencing exile, wilderness? 

•Who has cried out from their wilderness to yours,
“We’ve prepared a way – for you – so you can, in turn, prepare a highway for your God to return – for you”?  

•How have you, either individually or in a group, cried out to someone,
“We’ve prepared a way – for you – so you can, in turn, prepare a highway for your God to return – for you”?  

May you find ways to receive blessing and, in turn, to bless – in this Advent time. 

  • University Park United Methodist Church
    University Park United Methodist Church

    2180 S. University Blvd.
    Denver, CO 80210