Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.
I read this passage from Isaiah in one of my devotionals last night. I’d heard it proclaimed before, of course, probably we all have, but last night the good news of it hit me afresh. Lame people finally able to move, the silent given speech, water where it was dry; these are bountiful, miraculous gifts of God. But the scripture doesn’t stop at movement, or speech, or water. It goes further.
Imagine yourself or someone you love unable to walk, perhaps for years or even a lifetime. You’d pray for healing. Maybe you’d beg for any kind of mobility, even crawling would do, really, or a motorized chair. It would make such a difference in your daily life, which is so challenging and presents so many obstacles. Imagine God answering that prayer and one day, you not only walk, but leap. And not only leap, but leap like a deer, quickly, elegantly, and naturally, whenever and wherever you want.
Imagine yourself or someone you love unable to speak. You’d pray for healing. You might beg for some ability to communicate or articulate thought, maybe in writing or electronically. It would make such a difference in your life and in your relationships. Imagine God answering that prayer and one day, you not only speak, but shout. And not only shout, but sing. Full words, ideas, and emotions, full-throated for all to hear.
Imagine yourself in the driest desert. You’d pray for water. You might beg for drops of dew or a shower of rain, some bit of life-sustaining liquid. It would mean everything, and in fact it’s impossible to go on without it. Imagine God answering that prayer, and one day, water gushes forth. You look up, and where there was dry, dusty sand, streams of water just appear. You drink until you can’t drink anymore, then lay down and bathe in the cool, clear water.
It’s more than what you asked for, exceedingly, abundantly more than you could ask or imagine in your present circumstance. (Ephesians 3:20) After all, who would dare ask for leaping when you can’t even stand? I wouldn’t and mostly, I don’t. (There are exceptions.) But as I read, I wondered, is this God as I know Him? Is this how He answers prayers? Sometimes, I guess, but it’s a long game, isn’t it?
One day when a school-funding vote didn’t go our way and the kids were going to lose music, art, and gym, I begged God to intervene. The answer came in hundreds of people painstakingly working toward education and resolution in information sessions, sign-holdings, mail campaigns, town meetings, and more. It took years, and ultimately, there was victory. Also, there were lifelong connections and successes made in that refinery of fire that still feed me today. And in a twist only God could have written, it was the birth of my early education music curriculum, which I’ve taught happily now for over fifteen years. Exceedingly, abundantly more than we could ask or imagine.
Maybe our prayers will be answered in the miraculous, abundant way portrayed in Isaiah, and it’s not sudden, but slow. Maybe He’s laying down pathways of springs and rivers just under the surface of our desert lives, and the work is painstaking and hidden. Someday we’ll see what it was all about.
One thing’s for sure; I’ve never made a lame person leap, and I’ve never planted a river in a desert. There are some things only God can do, and although we question and wonder at His timing and His ways, we can rest in Him who does hear our prayers and who does act. Exceedingly, abundantly, He is shepherding us in love.