The author of Isaiah 55 was not writing to me. This poem was directed at Jews living in Babylon, after years of being exiled from Jerusalem. Now they were allowed to return to Jerusalem, but after years of longing for the homeland of their grandparents, there just wasn’t much of Jerusalem left to compel them to return. It was going to take some seriously hard work, and mean leaving behind the life they had cultivated in Babylon. The author calls the Jewish people to come home: “My people, you will go out of Babylon with joy. You will be led out of it in peace. The mountains and hills will burst into song as you go. And all the trees in the fields will clap their hands. Juniper trees will grow where there used to be bushes that had thorns on them. And myrtle trees will grow where there used to be thorns. That will bring me great fame. It will be a lasting reminder of what I can do. It will stand forever.”
But even though this was not a letter written to me, like any good reader or lover of story, even if it wasn’t intended for me, I can’t help but interpret it for me.
Late 2017 and 2018 was a time of exile for our family, or so it felt. And I spent a good part of the last year somewhat on the outside of the land of plenty I believe God has for me. I got somewhat comfortable in this place. And I don’t think that was wrong. After all, when one is forcibly exiled, you can’t help but resettle where you land.
However, lately I’ve been feeling God is calling me to move forward. Not backward to where we were, but forward to a place He has set apart for me. It is not a place that is flowing with milk and honey… yet… for there is work to be done. I truly don’t know what this place will look like, where it will be, how it will be different from where I am now. Perhaps to the casual observer, it won’t look much different at all. But the word that has been impressed on my heart these last few weeks as I look toward a new year is FORWARD. The time has come to move forward. To view myself not as one exiled, but one invited in to something new.
Today, I move. Forward. The mountains and hills may not burst into song, but I might.
Happy New Year, friends.