God, The Original Wrap Artist

By Ken Woodley
Christmas is still two weeks away, but oh, what a blessed gift it is to be a fool and yet still loved and saved by God.
What a blessed, blessed gift for us to unwrap.
I read the 35th chapter of the book of Isaiah (New International Version) nearly every morning before sunrise because, in typical Isaiah fashion, everything will be made right:
“The Wilderness and the dry land shall be glad,
the desert shall rejoice and blossom;
… Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened,
and the ears of the deaf unstopped;
then the lame shall leap like a deer,
and the tongue of the speechless sing for joy …
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water….”
How wondrously miraculous for us because there are individual, highly personal “wildernesses” through which we all must travel, times when we feel blind, unable to speak or hear, and our hearts weary and broken to the point of lameness.
Sometimes the difficulty is just making it to the starting line through another cold, gray, dark morning that seems to dawn without any promise of a true sunrise.
But that is not all we are left with. That is never all there is, where God is concerned. There is a light that always shines, through any weather and every season—even shining in the seasons deep within other seasons.
How do we journey through our times of great trouble—or minor rough patches—into that spiritual “promised land” where even the driest deserts are turned inside out?
There is a highway, Isaiah assures us, the Holy Way, the way for God’s people, and on that Holy Way none of life’s “ravenous beasts” can stop us unless we let them.
That assurance is wonderful in its own right but the truly glorious thing is this:
“No traveler, not even fools, shall go astray,” we are told by God through the prophet Isaiah in the New Revised Standard Version.
Of that fact I rejoice and cheer until I go hoarse. Even in my most foolish moments—and God knows I’ve had several thousand—God has not let me go truly astray. God’s love and grace have kept me on that Holy Way. Or led back on that path after I’d wandered off.
God knows humanity and understands that all of us will act foolishly at times. Sometimes it’s simply the foolishness of putting our own words into God’s mouth, framing our own expectations as if they were the word of God, and then becoming disheartened when those expectations aren’t met.
I’ve had to remind myself that, with the best of intentions, I put those words in God’s mouth. There is a huge difference between a genuine communication from the Holy Spirit and my own wishful thinking.
If, when that happens, I don’t realize that what I’ve done is perform a ventriloquist act—putting my voice in God’s mouth—then I am the real dummy in the performance.
Ironically, another opportunity for human foolishness is ignoring the voice of God when it does speak to our soul—when it is not us putting words in God’s mouth but actually the Holy Spirit of God communicating with us directly.
Especially when God is recommending a course correction in our lives to keep us on the Holy Way.
But God is ever-forgiving and ever-encouraging, even in the midst of our most foolish moments. God is always with us, speaking ceaselessly through the Holy Spirit until we listen, God promising that our deserts shall rejoice and blossom if we would only follow God’s signposts on the Holy Way.
There will be desert moments in our lives—we cannot avoid them—but, if we persevere, God promises that our troubled hearts shall some day leap like a deer.
Leap like the heart of a little child on Christmas Day.
Leap like a heart that understands the greatest gift of all is far too large to wrap.
Because that gift itself is wrapped around the whole, wide world:
God’s love.
If we’d only all open it together.

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