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Journey to Bethlehem Day 16

Monday, December 16 Isaiah 35:5-10

5 Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
6 then shall the lame man leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the mute sing for joy.
For waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
7 the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water;
in the haunt of jackals, where they lie down,
the grass shall become reeds and rushes.
8 And a highway shall be there,
and it shall be called the Way of Holiness;
the unclean shall not pass over it.
It shall belong to those who walk on the way;
even if they are fools, they shall not go astray.
9 No lion shall be there,
nor shall any ravenous beast come up on it;
they shall not be found there,
but the redeemed shall walk there.
10 And the ransomed of the Lord shall return
and come to Zion with singing;
everlasting joy shall be upon their heads;
they shall obtain gladness and joy,
and sorrow and sighing shall flee away.

Our English word “remedy” is not used much these days. Check it out online and you will find its decline began in the 19th century and has reached its present nadir here in the 21st. Small wonder. Whether used as a thing or as an act, this word has its roots in going back to what once was, and that “what” is understood as better than the “what” that is now. It is a word that declares the past is superior to both the present and the future. At its base, this word casts the present as a failure, and the future as worse.
Those of us with pasts lengthier than our prospective futures will likely agree with remedy’s core logic. But it is a sentimental acquiescence, one that likely ignores what we once eyed when it was our futures that loomed large.
Above, the prophet rejects such limp sighing. With a bulging vigor from on high, he unleashes God’s muscular fury on all human progress. “It is a lie, a ruse, a deceit! Fools! You rush headlong to greater afflictions and desiccation!”
Tucked inside the outburst is a reminder, an Ebenezer of something we can but barely recall: There is nothing better than the perfection that flourished so abundantly there in God’s Zion, where we might walk with him garlanded by everlasting joy. And then the invitation at the center of all such eruptions from God: There is a highway back.
Our habit of Christmas points us wrong ward, forward, to the day, then the week, then the new year, then looking forward to it again. If a disorientation descends into your heart while packing up the decorations, then take up Isaiah’s remedy.
The Way of Holiness alone restores.

Lord Jesus, lead us on the Way. Amen.