This week, in our area, marked the kids returning to school. One of my aunties always used to tell me that “your school days are the best days of your life”.
I hated school.
I hated school assemblies. I can remember sitting cross legged in the school hall that seemed to smell permanently of bad feet and boiled cabbage. I can remember the half-hearted singing of hymns and the headmaster marching up and down yelling “sing” at any child he thought was not putting enough effort into it. Even now, I hear the words or tunes of certain songs and they invoke really powerful memories for me.
I have always associated “Dear Lord and Father of mankind” with school. I cannot bring myself to sing the proper words to “Morning has broken”. Our version went;
Morning has broken
Somebody dropped it
Teacher has spoken
Let’s go to sleep
As a child, you tried to sneak the alternative words in without the teacher working out who done it. As an adult looking back, I now understand the poetry of the words. I can see what they were trying to convey. They spoke about God’s perfect creation. They spoke about a world in harmony. They spoke about a world set at peace with itself.
But that was not the world I knew then and, that is not the world I know now.
The world in which we live, is not the world that God created it to be. Humanity walked away from God’s will and design and so the relationship was spoiled.
If you trace the history of the nations of Israel and Judah it reads like a pattern of “close to God the nation does well” and “away from God, the nations fall apart”. There came a time in their history when they had strayed so far from God’s plans and purposes that they lost the nation altogether and ended up in exile in Babylon.
But, what the Bible teaches is, with God there is always hope.
This morning, we read chapter 35 from the book of Isaiah. I reflected on the fact that sometimes the Bible uses particular words that are loaded with significance. The word that was significant for me in this chapter was the word “desert”. I saw this word as an illustration meaning, not the natural state of things. A desert is a tragedy. A desert speaks of failure. The desert is the place of regret.
I think many of us end up living in the desert of life.
So, we are faced with a choice. We either dig in if we are going to get through; tough it out. Or, we get beaten by it
The passage in Isaiah 35 tells us that the desert doesn’t have the last word. The desert does not have the victory
The desert and the parched land will be glad; the wilderness will rejoice and blossom. Like the crocus, it will burst into bloom; it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy. The glory of Lebanon will be given to it, the splendour of Carmel and Sharon; they will see the glory of the LORD, the splendour of our God.
(Isaiah 35 vs. 1 – 2)
The desert can never have the last word because even in the worst of situations, God can work to bring about His purposes and His plans.