These words from Isaiah evoke a longing in us for restoration - to be back again in the garden with God as all was created and intended to be. This is the place where our soul longs to dwell and make its home with God. God has placed this hope in our hearts for what is to come and enables us to live in this hope right now, regardless of our circumstance.
As a new year is upon us, what are you hoping for? Who and what are you placing your hope in? And what hope for restoration has the Holy Spirit placed within you? May the Lord strengthen your hands and encourage you to stand so that you may walk upright in this hope placed within you.
Isaiah 35 (NLT)
Even the wilderness and desert will be glad in those days.
The wasteland will rejoice and blossom with spring crocuses.
2 Yes, there will be an abundance of flowers and singing and joy!
The deserts will become as green as the mountains of Lebanon,
as lovely as Mount Carmel or the plain of Sharon.
There the Lord will display his glory, the splendor of our God.
3 With this news, strengthen those who have tired hands,
and encourage those who have weak knees.
4 Say to those with fearful hearts, “Be strong, and do not fear,
for your God is coming to destroy your enemies. He is coming to save you.”
5 And when he comes, he will open the eyes of the blind
and unplug the ears of the deaf.
6 The lame will leap like a deer, and those who cannot speak will sing for joy!
Springs will gush forth in the wilderness, and streams will water the wasteland.
7 The parched ground will become a pool,
and springs of water will satisfy the thirsty land.
Marsh grass and reeds and rushes will flourish where desert jackals once lived.
8 And a great road will go through that once deserted land.
It will be named the Highway of Holiness.
Evil-minded people will never travel on it.
It will be only for those who walk in God’s ways; fools will never walk there.
9 Lions will not lurk along its course, nor any other ferocious beasts.
There will be no other dangers. Only the redeemed will walk on it.
10 Those who have been ransomed by the Lord will return.
They will enter Jerusalem singing, crowned with everlasting joy.
Sorrow and mourning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness.
For Reflection and Prayer:
Was there a word, phrase or image which caught your attention you as you listened to or slowly read the text? Quietly reflect on it in your prayer with Jesus. Journal your conversation.
What longing rose up in your heart as you listened? How do you feel this holy longing in your body? Gently bring this awareness into your prayer.
Savor any consoling words or pictures as you quietly rest in God.