Sunday, December 11, 2016

The Heart of Christmas: The Blessing in the Inheritance of Desolation and Barrenness

After two decades of Decembers spent in Isaiah's book, he's become like family to me. I'm familiar with his words and they're like hugs, reminders of God's love and gracious care. They aren't usually surprising, but today I was stopped in my tracks by an odd phrase.

It was a conversation between God and Jesus, in which God promised to make Jesus a covenant (Matthew Henry calls this a "peace treaty between God and man"). The purpose of this new covenant would be to "restore the land, to make them inherit the desolate heritages." Isaiah 49:8 nasb

I read the phrase "desolate heritages" and envisioned an inner city wasteland surrounding an abandoned warehouse. Trash everywhere. Ugly graffiti. Dried out weeds. Burned out cars. It didn't seem appealing at all.

I'm ashamed to admit this, but I prayed, "Lord, you're gonna have a hard time getting takers for a desolate heritage. Who would want that?"

The Still, Small Voice in my heart gave me a two-word reply. "You would."

If that was true, I had clearly missed something. I turned to commentaries and a closer reading of the passage, and I found a beautiful truth.

Without Christ, our only heritage was desolation. We were destined for utter destruction in Hell. 

When we accept the Lordship of Christ, God will take the most barren places in our lives and turn them into fruitfulness. 

He will speak a word, and we who are bound will go forth in freedom.

He will speak to us in the darkness of our souls, "Show yourself." We will step out of darkness into the light of God's love. 

We, formerly in bondage and darkness, will travel along the roads of life and, even though we had nothing, we will have all we need.

Our pasture will be on the bare heights. Does that sound impossible? It would be, if not for the peace treaty of Christ.

Even where there seems to be nothing, God will make a way. We, his freedmen and freedwomen will not be hungry or thirsty. The sun will not "scorch" or overheat us. He will guide us to springs of water. He will make the path clear and the direction unmistakable.

The best part of the treaty is that He, who has compassion on us, will lead us and guide us. We don't have to make our journey through life alone. We don't have to figure it out. 

Our God will help us.

"He who has compassion on them will lead them, and will guide them to springs of water." Isaiah 49:10 nasb

Who would want a desolate heritage? I would. You would. If we understood what God offered in that gift of desolation and barrenness, we'd embrace it with joy.

Today, let's take our eyes off our brokenness, our chains. 

Instead, take a look at the freedom, light, direction, and comfort available. When we allow our chains to fall to the ground, we can step into the light of love. 

It's a beautiful possibility, hard-bought by the Babe in the manger who chose brokenness so that we might be whole.

Christmas is not about a baby in the hay. It's about the peace treaty that snapped our chains and set us free. 

Let's choose freedom and all the presence, provision, and direction of God that come with it. 

Lead, Lord. We want to follow.
ps - the photo above is of the Dead Sea. It's as barren as it comes, but the minerals in the water and the mud are wonderful for your skin. Even there, God brings healing from barrenness. 
In case you missed it, here's the link to yesterday's post: The Gift That Was More Than Enough
#advent #Jesus