Valleys + Hills

The Old Testament prophecies announce the promise and the coming of Jesus, but not always in the way you might expect. In Isaiah 40: 3-5 we are commanded to prepare a way for God to come to us, to make a solid, smooth roadway for him to ride in on. But the poetry of the prophet paints a vivid picture of just how hard that is to do—raising up valleys, making mountains and hills shorter, turning all that unevenness into an even plain that is fit for a king.

As usual, we humans can’t do it. We’re too broken and weak. The spiky, rocky mountains are too difficult to move. The valleys are too dark and too deep to fill up. Nothing we try is enough. Besides, we get distracted along the way and end up falling into other valleys or tripping on stones. In the end, we say, “It’s too much for me! I can’t get to you and I can’t make a way for you to get to me!” This is repentance.

So what happens? God himself steps in. He moves toward us. He sends Jesus to deal with all the rough places by being born in one—a dirty old animal shed in a messed-up world.

Share the image below and choose a few SPARKS to get your conversation started:

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  • Describe what you see in the image.

  • Imagine that you had to walk all the way to the orange sun. Why would that be hard to do? What if you were very thirsty?

  • What are some of the ways that it could be made easier? Could you do it by yourself?

  • Does anything in your life feel as hard as walking through that picture?

  • Read the Isaiah passage. How would the picture change if the valleys were lifted up, the mountains made low, the uneven ground made level, and the rough places plain?

  • Since God is the one who makes the pathway straight and smooth, what can you do when you have to walk through hard places in your own life?

  • In knowing that God has prepared his own way—that God does all the work—how can we respond? What do you want to say to God when you realize that he does all the work?