Isaiah 40:1-8

Comfort, O comfort my people, says your God. Speak tenderly to Jerusalem, and cry to her that she has served her term, that her penalty is paid, that she has received from the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.

A voice cries out: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. Then the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all people shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.”

A voice says, “Cry out!” And I said, “What shall I cry?” All people are grass, their constancy is like the flower of the field. The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the Lord blows upon it; surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever. Isaiah 40:1-8

When I was a kid the culture around me, literally the North Dakota wind and water, warned me against getting a “big head.” I was never to act “too big for my britches.” “Pride goeth before a fall” rang much more loudly in my ears than “Jesus loves you.”

The only place where these expectations of self-deprecation were relaxed was in sports. They still APPLIED for us as individuals but we were free to yell “We’re from Wahpeton, couldn’t be prouder, can’t hear us now we’ll yell a little louder” at the top of our lungs….as long as we were referring to the team.

Thus I hear a strong note of “or else you’re going to get your comeuppance” in Isaiah 40, at least in these verses. Jerusalem has been humbled. They are down but not forgotten. God brings comfort…and a not so gentle application of North Dakotan humility.

All people are grass.”

I believe it. Not so much when I was 28 and bullet proof or even 38 and blind to the passage of time. But today, my aching knees preach the law to me every time I try to get out of a chair. My parents are gone. A voice whispers in the back of my mind “You’re next” and that day will come, whether I eat my vegetables or not. The same applies to you.

What lasts is God. God’s Word. God’s promises. God’s will.

Now there’s a big dose of humility for you!

But we don’t want to hear that. So we distract ourselves. We cheer on our teams and click our phones and clean our guns and rant on Facebook. We worry and we’re anxious and we wonder who to vote for – who will save the day this time?

I used to love when the spring would come and the grass would come out from hiding beneath the snow. A little rain, a lot of wind, a couple of weeks of sun, and the grass would be back. I’d lay in it. I’d smell it. I’d carefully pluck a stem and chew on the little white part on the end. There’s nothing quite like a lush patch of grass in the spring.

Winter is coming, this time of year. Back in North Dakota we held no illusions that there was anything we could do to stop that or fend it off. We could only endure it, make the most of it, prepare for it, and pray for storm days. We knew the spring would eventually come.

The grass withers, the flower fades; but the word of our God will stand forever.

Let’s pray: Dear Lord, forgive us for taking ourselves so seriously and forgetting you along the way. Forgive us for our inconstancy and arrogance. Teach us to number our days, even as we trust that spring will always come. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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3 Responses to “Isaiah 40:1-8”

  1. Bernice Heck Says:

    Pastor Kerry, Just thought you might like to know, in case you have not heard, we up here in northern ND, do not have snow yet, 12/8/15. We have had beautiful weather so far in December, but I suppose our day is coming for more white stuff. We had a little, but it melted and did not stay around long.

    Have a Blessed, Merry Christmas!

    Bernice Heck
    Tolna, ND

  2. David Armstrong Says:

    I really need today’s prayer which arrived like a soft spring breeze.

  3. Wendy Says:

    the distractions of life, inconsistent in my relationship with God; oh, yes. Forgive me Lord.

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