Parched places are not where we want to be. We lack water. We are short of provision.. In a parched place we do not want to lift up our eyes to look around, let alone look up. That is because all our energy is dried up by the heat of the day or the loneliness of the night.
This kind of pace has not been unknown to the ancestors in our faith tradition. The Hebrews in the desert after the Exodus; the prophets in the Old Testament and the Israelites in exile. Jesus also was in the wilderness for 40 days.
We do not seek a parched place. Yet more often than not we find ourselves in another barren land. Sometimes we bring it upon our own heads. Other times we are driven into it by a power that is beyond our own control. In either case, we feel like we are forced to make a life-or-death decision. As if all that will entail entirely depends on the decisions we make here and now.
Isaiah 58:11, however, reminds us that God’s decision is already made. God made up His mind to guide us continually, satisfy our needs, keep our bones strong, and make us the channel of blessing even in the wilderness. We will still make our choices. Yet, it won’t nullify God’s decision to continue to guide, provide and bless.
If we truly believe that the God who spoke this to the exiles is the same God we serve, let us lift up our eyes to see where God is coming and what God is doing for us, among us, and through us.
Open our eyes that we may see your mighty hands reaching out to us even when we find ourselves struggling in the most barren land.
Rev. Joseph Park is the pastor of Pine Valley UMC in Jacksonville