The season of Advent often brings the image of a journey or a path to be followed as it wends its way to Christmas. Advent is a mini-mirror for the journeys we all experience through life, the rough places and the smooth ones, the hills and mountains as well as the valleys and chasms. At the end, though, all will be well — we hope.
In his words to the Babylonian exiles, Isaiah gave words of hope mixed with a reminder as to why they were there in the first place. They had set God aside in favor of idols and unrighteous living. For that, they had to eat the bread of adversity and drink the water of affliction. But, Isaiah reminds them, it would not be forever and that God will still be with them. God had punished them for their unfaithfulness, but the time would come when the wounds would be bound and healed, all because God was always faithful, even if the people weren’t.
Most of us have what could be a little bit of God in us in the form of our consciences, telling us whether we should go left or right, do or not do something, say or not say something. Conscience should be informed by a direct connection with God, yet all too often, we sweep conscience aside unless it agrees with what we ourselves want to do and not necessarily what is good or right. We listen to the world far more than we listen to God, but then it seems God speaks in so many different ways to different people. Who do we listen to? What one group deems imperative, another labels the same thing blasphemous or heretical. What some insist the Bible says about this topic or that one, others see it exactly the opposite.
Who is right?
During Advent it might be a good time to stop and listen for God to tell us which way to go, right or left, toward this need or away from that desire, to gather in or to give away. It could be part of our Advent journey that will be with us long after Christmas has passed.