“I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert….to give drink to my chosen people.” Isaiah 43: 19b, 21b
Some of you may have heard of a “desert bloom” out in the American Southwest a few weeks ago. They have received so much more rainfall than is usual for their arid region that the plants had a sustained period of bloom. Desert plants are great at storing water, so they can survive in a sort of hibernation (I am no botanist by any stretch) during most of the year without much or any rain. But during early 2019, the desert southwest received so much additional rainfall that the desert responded with a rare, amazing, sustained time of blossoming.
I am an unrepentant devotee of the book of the prophet Isaiah and its amazing theology of God’s mission to bring water to the dry places. Watering a parched desert is a rather simple image, one we can easily conjure up in our mind’s eye. As we said above, a desert can come back to life with the right sort of conditions. But Isaiah 43 says that God is about to do a new thing: bring a permanent change to the spiritual desert of Israel’s life and turn their dry, cracked hearts into a never-ending stream of blessing. When God does this new thing, the old times, both the good and bad, will become distant (if not forgotten) and all that will remain is God’s overflowing love that transforms even the driest spirit into a fountain of life.
We all instinctively understand that knowing God’s love does not mean we will not experience deep wilderness times in our lives. But our faith, during the times of plenty, allows us to store up the water of God’s blessed grace inside of us which can sustain us during the desert times. God has done a new thing in Jesus, the life-giving water of God’s most holy love. When we are a desert God is with us, waiting to breathe new life into us with the living water of Christ.