The passage from Isaiah is fairly well known, often read at Christmas.
18 Do not remember the former things,
or consider the things of old.
19 I am about to do a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
There is a wonderful promise here. No matter where we find ourselves, there is a future. No matter how bleak our situation, God will bring something positive out of it.
The wilderness is something we rarely encounter in modern life, unless we go searching for it. These Oxfordshire villages may be rural, but they are certainly not wild! But for the people of Isaiah’s day, the wilderness was very real and existed right at the edge of every town or village. The wilderness was a place of desolation, of danger, and potentially of death. A pathless place, where a person could easily get wholly lost.
The promise of making a way in the wilderness, of rivers in the desert, is a promise of safety and security. It is a promise that God will ensure we do not get lost, and that he will look after our needs.
The things and dangers of the past do however prey on our minds, and are hard to forget. Sometimes we are so focussed on the past that we don’t see the shoots of new growth and possibility under our feet, right in front of us. Indeed, we might even tread on those tender new shoots if we are not careful. But we also must remember that His timing is not our timing, and that can be very challenging indeed, especially when we want to get ahead, or find resolution.
May God give us the wisdom and grace to see where He is at work, to recognise the new shoots of His presence. And may He give us the strength to wait for His timing, painful though that may sometimes be.