“Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God.
“Speak tenderly to Jerusalem.
Tell her that her sad days are gone and her sins are pardoned.
Yes, the LORD has punished her twice over for all her sins.” Listen!
It’s the voice of someone shouting,
“Clear the way through the wilderness for the LORD!
Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God!
Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills.
Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places.
Then the glory of the LORD will be revealed,
and all people will see it together.
The LORD has spoken!”
Isaiah 40:1-5 NLT
I was reminded tonight that it matters what road you take. All of us have done this at some point: gotten on the highway intending to go to one place, only to find that we hadn’t been paying attention, and we’d ended up somewhere else entirely.
Maybe we missed an exit, maybe we got on the wrong highway entension, maybe we got on the highway going east when we intended to go west.
Whatever the reason, we got on the wrong road and it lead us somewhere we didn’t want to go. Life can be like that too. Our faith journey can be like that – if we don’t pay close attention, we can find ourselves miles from where we want to be.
The people of Israel did this over and over again. The Old Testament is the story of God’s people wandering away from God – through inattention or pride or willfulness – and God calling them back to him again and again and again.
I find hope in these stories – in the fact that God never gets to a point where enough is enough. He always has more time, more forgiveness, more love for his people. No matter what they have done or how they have wandered.
And when the time was right, he sent his Son to be the final atonement for his willful, wandering, inattentive people. Jesus is the highway to our God – the straight path that leads to the One who created us.
This Advent, may you be attentive, may you choose the right road, and may you find that you are traveling ever closer to God.