Rebuild the road! Clear away the rocks and stones so my people can return from captivity. Isaiah was speaking for God when that was first said. It holds true to this day.
A friend of mine once told me how awkward Christian worship seemed to him. Somewhere between people singing the words written from the hearts of other people, coupled with the idea of a God that demanded people worship Him, he felt that it painted a view of God and the church that seemed somewhat megalomaniacle and controlling.
I've found that secular life holds cheap knock-offs of many parts of church life. For example, if someone objects to a God demanding worship, I can name a number of rockstars that love to raise the worship of their fans in live concerts. In fact, I went with that same friend to a U2 concert once upon a time and Bono was not shy about getting the crowd to their feet in celebration of his band. People were cheering and chanting and reeching out into the air with one hand, with both hands, some were crying. It was a full-on charismatic worship celebration, for lack of a more secular description. And my friend, he was right there beer raised hooting and hollering in celebration. I wouldn't take that away from him, but I could also understand that it isn't really about the band or God not being worthy of celebration, and knowing it. It is about the hearts of those who would celebrate, really.
Musical worship is the "chicken before the egg" dilemma personified. Do we sing songs that reflect our hearts? Or do songs change and affect our hearts? I think both happen. And in the case of musical praise and worship, both are important. We need to be able to sing straight from the words of our hearts, to make it personal. And we need some help changing our hearts.
Rebuild the road! I think about God's house as a homestead house off in a field, the path from my house to God's overgrown with weeds and fallen trees. God is asking me to rebuild that road. It is there. The way is made. It has just maybe not be traveled in a while. That is the idea. Maybe we've been hanging out locked up in our own homes for a while, sequestered by our lives. But God is watching. God knows our pain, the pain we've caused others. He is out on the lawn, looking down the path toward our house, waving to get our attention.
In Isaiah 57:18 it says "I have seen what they do, but I will heal them anyway! I will lead them. I will comfort those who mourn, bring words of praise to their lips." The other neighbors may be saying, "What? He made his own trouble! Why would you invite him back into the party?" God is saying, "I know what you did. And I still want to heal you. I want to be the one who leads you. I want to be the one who comforts you. I'm going to give you a reason to celebrate again."
According to Isaiah 57:19 God's desire for us is "abundant peace, both near and far" whether we are over at His house, or locked up in our own trouble. God wants peace and joy for us. Today, I am praying for peace. I am inviting joy, not matter the situation. And I can think of many situations that would not make me joyful right now. But, I can always walk that path and go hang out at my Father God's house and bring that peace and joy back to mine!