Towards the end of December, as I thought on the new year and the mystery therein, the Lord graciously led me to mine out the many diamonds of Isaiah 55, including: “and you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace and the mountains and hills before you shall burst forth into singing and the trees of the field shall clap their hands.” I’m struck by the word of the Lord enabling me to go out in joy and peace, into the mystery, but also floored by the fact that the mountain isn’t moved. Think about that. The Lord CAN throw the mountain into the midst of the sea – absolutely – that’s miraculous DELIVERING grace! But, in this passage, it’s still there.
Tall. Sturdy. Unmoving.
And yet, it’s breaking forth into singing! How often do I miss this? The beauty of the new road I’m on and the mountain and hills around me? It’s not simply a detour I need to rush and pray to “get through”, but it is the new road – a new road filled with SUSTAINING grace. Not an interruption, but an opportunity – really, an invitation. An invitation to admit dependance, an invitation for great courage and learning new things, an invitation to turn mourning into dancing. Henri Nouwen says: “As we dance and walk forwards, grace provides the ground on which the steps fall. Prayer puts us in touch with the God of the Dance. We look beyond our experience of sadness or loss by learning to receive an all-embracing love, a love that meets us in everyday moments. And so, we wait patiently, if the situation requires it, watching for gifts to come where we are. ” (Turn My Mourning Into Dancing, pg 14-15).
And this new road, on the mountain, is full of good and beauty and gifts waiting to be discovered, mined out, and cherished. Oh, how I long to remember this daily! Whether it’s a mountain of laundry, or what seems like a mountain of an unending season of seemingly fruitless discipline for my kids, or a mountain of questions about the future I simply cannot answer. The Lord’s sustaining grace is all around. Isaiah goes on to say: “instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the Lord, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”
Being a lover of trees, I did a quick Google search on these trees and found that the Mediterranean cypress is known for longevity, ability to withstand storms, and pointing straight up to heaven.
That the myrtle that grows most commonly in the Mediterranean areas grows there because it requires a long, hot summer to produce its flowers.
The Lord, as He commonly does, dropped this in my lap on December 29 as I looked across the abyss into a a new year. Wow. What beauty and power in those words and imagery – in the entirety of Isaiah 55 as the Lord invites all who are thirsty, broken, and poor, to come and be satisfied. What hope! What seems like a treacherous mountain ahead has gifts waiting to be discovered. What seems like an unending long hot season of trial or wondering is producing flowers! So, walking in peace, being led forth in joy walking straight into the mystery. We savor Christ in the mystery, on the new road winding towards the mountain, because HE has been faithful in the past and HE will be faithful in the future. Where is He inviting me, where is He inviting you, to see the gifts within the mountains?