In May of 2016 I received my compestella (certificate) for having walked the Camino de Santiago in Spain. This pilgrimage was the longest journey I had made on foot. It involved overcoming not only physical barriers (rain, mud, rocks, heat) but also the mental and spiritual barricades and pitfalls that we often encounter in life.
One of my most powerful experiences on the Camino involved water. My friend and I had been walking much of the day in a rising heat, over parched ground and uneven path, when we at last crossed a small footbridge spanning a large stream. Nearby, a fountain of purified water invited us to fill our empty water bottles and to sit for a time in the shade as we replenished our bodies and spirits.
I thought of God’s promise that day as I drank deeply of this water. “I will make a way in the wilderness,” Isaiah writes, “and rivers in the desert.”
Not only the physical limitations of life need to be replenished by God’s abundance. We have spiritual deficiencies within us. We experience moments that seem depleted of love, faith, or joy. Sometimes, our energies are depleted. Other experiences reduce our levels of trust, hope, or finances. In short, we need the refreshing abundance of God.
When we walk through the dry places, we can remember that God’s refreshment is not far off. God will make a way.
Many experiences zap our energies, wreak havoc on our emotions, stress our relationships, and fill us with fear. The wilderness is not necessarily a place but any experience in life that causes us to lose sight of God—the source of our strength and hope. But the prophet reminds us—God will make a way for us to push through. This is grace. And it is enough.
Help me, God, to trust you in this day of uncertainty and anxiety. Alleviate my fear and help me to see the hopeful places toward which you call me. Amen.
God is constantly performing works of renewal. Isaiah had warned Israel of judgment, yet here the prophet turns his attention to the other part of God’s message, that of restoration. God will breathe new life into the people, like sending rivers into the desert. The psalmist celebrates a communal festival in honor of the renewing deeds of God, who has turned their weeping into joy. Paul also experiences this work of renewal. He previously had boasted of his privileged position in society, but God has changed his thinking so that he considers his knowledge of Christ his greatest possession. In John a woman named Mary begins to point our attention to Christ’s coming passion by anointing Jesus’ feet. Crowds begin to gather, and the stage is set for the impending conflict.
Read Isaiah 43:16-21. When have you seen God make a way for a new thing in your life?
Read Psalm 126. Consider how your joy and laughter might heal others.
Read Philippians 3:4b-14. When has God’s strength helped you finish a race, literally or metaphorically?
Read John 12:1-8. God gives gifts to all of us. How do you share your gift from God with others?
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