A voice cries out: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain." - Isaiah 40:1-11
People who are facing a serious illness tell me they have a new respect for how changeable life is. Suddenly, they realize how precious the ordinary moments are. One man once told me what many others have said in different words: "I used to complain about being bored. But I could use a little boring right now."
These words from Isaiah seem to predict the divine future God wants for us. God does not want us laboring up steep mountains one minute and down in a ditch the next minute. God wants to level things out.
But life on earth doesn't work that way. Life delivers wild fluctuations in the stock market, our love lives, our health and even our sanity. The ground we travel is uneven and rough.
It is God's grace, working through the passage of time, which evens out the terrain. We look back in hindsight and don't just see a lot of ups and downs. As we learn from our mistakes and our heartbreaks, some of those past mountains get laid low.
It's good preparation for the real moment of understanding, when we meet Jesus in the afterlife and finally understand that all this was just the prelude. Until then, let's hold on to the image of God watching us in our ups and downs, and using grace and mercy to turn the rough places into a fertile plain.
When my heart is a desert, make straight a highway through me, and remind me that one day every mountain I am climbing will be made low and every valley will be lifted up. Eventually. Amen.
Lillian Daniel's new book Tired of Apologizing for a Church I Don't Belong To: Spirituality without Stereotypes, Religion without Ranting is now available for purchase, but you can hear it all for free at 1st Congregational Church of Dubuque, Iowa.