I raced down the eastbound lane of the interstate. Ten miles felt like hundreds. Ignoring the speed limit, I wove through cars driving far too slowly, muttering about such terrible drivers. When I exited the highway, every traffic light was red, every lane clogged with traffic. My headlights shined, but the road felt shrouded in darkness.
Ten days later, I drove up the westbound lane of that same road. The sun was shining. The few cars I saw stayed out of my way. I shed a few tears of joy when I pulled into my driveway. What made these two journeys on the same road so drastically different? On the first trip, I was following an ambulance carrying my wife to the hospital. She’d suffered a brain bleed and nothing in my world felt secure. I drove those ten miles in terror. On the second trip, I was bringing her home, grateful for the care she’d received and the remarkable progress she’d made. I made the journey home in joy.
The captive Israelites had traveled the road to Babylon in terror and grief. The future was frightening; home was an ever more distant memory. But now, Isaiah promises, traveling that same road home will be totally different. Joy will fill their hearts. They will travel in peace. Nature itself will support them and join them in praising God for their deliverance. Their lives will overflow with the bounty of God’s provision.
We sometimes struggle to find meaning in the journeys that take us to Babylon, those frightening places where we feel dehumanized and abandoned. Yet Isaiah tells us that our story moves beyond Babylon. We can know the boundless joy of coming home to the One who loves us and gives us our true identity as God’s people.
Is the road I’m traveling today leading me into captivity or taking me home to the life God wants for me?
God, I’ve felt the pain of being far from you and want to know the joy of returning to my true identity as your child. Help me take that step. Amen.