A path through the jackals
Have you ever been to a place you’d call a wasteland? Perhaps the depths of a junkyard or the parched ground of a dry riverbed? Isaiah 43 brings some similar imagery to mind, talking about Israel in exile, describing the landscape as populated by wild beasts, owls, and jackals. This is a place where there is nothing left—nothing grows and the wind never blows.
Perhaps this describes how you feel at times – especially in this season of Easter preparation. The celebration of Jesus’ birth is long behind us, the celebration of his resurrection is ahead of us, but we are nearing the liturgy of the passion when we focus on his suffering and death and we can find ourselves feeling overwhelmed and in a kind of spiritual wasteland.
This is the kind of environment Israel seems to be in—exiled, away from home, under the thumb of Babylon. But this passage in Isaiah 43 is right here at the turn of hope. God’s deliverance was soon to appear for Israel.
This is what the Lord says—he who made a way through the sea, a path through the mighty waters, who drew out the chariots and horses, the army and reinforcements together, and they lay there, never to rise again, extinguished, snuffed out like a wick: (Isaiah 43:16-17 NIV).
The first thing Isaiah does here is remind them who they are dealing with—the God who brought them out of Egypt, who brought them through the desert. He draws their attention to the past—God the way maker.
Isaiah then used the familiar desert imagery to show God turning the tables—bringing their deliverance:
See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. The wild animals honor me, the jackals and the owls, because I provide water in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen, (vv. 19-20).
Even in this wasteland—a place only populated by scavengers and bone-pickers—God makes the way. In this place of uselessness and complete loss, he shows up.
Has this happened to you? Has God met you in the wasteland—economic ruin, a disintegrated marriage, the depths of depression? Has he made a path through the jackals for you? Or maybe something in or around you seems like a wasteland right now. There is good news for us. No wasteland is too barren for our God to meet us there.
In the incarnation, God meets us, once and for all, in the wastelands of the human experience and reveals to us that Jesus Christ himself is the way in the wilderness, the river in the desert, a well of living water for the thirsty.
During this season of Easter preparation, we recognize the wastelands in and around us and embrace our deep need for Jesus. We do this in confidence that the victory of resurrection is upon us, that our God is making all things new.
Until that time when the Kingdom comes in fullness, watch for signs of life in the wasteland—for the flowers coming up through concrete and that trickle of water on the desert floor. Jesus is HERE; he is HERE for you.
Presented by Cara Garrity
About the presenter:
Cara Garrity is an elder and Development Coordinator for GCI in the USA. Word of Life each Sunday is taken from ‘Speaking of Life’, (https://www.gci.org/videos/media-speaking-of-life/), a public resource video on the USA website of Grace Communion International.
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