“No one is respected . . .”

“The highways are so dangerous that no one travels on them. Treaties are broken and agreements are violated. No one is respected any more.” (Isaiah 33:8) 

The youth in our church help maintain a small flower garden behind the fellowship hall.  I was out in the garden this morning enjoying the flowers and noticed that some of the cone flowers appeared to have golden, starry crowns around them.


The crowns were, in fact, pockets of pollen that had opened.  I’ve always been fascinated by the symmetry of this type of flower but never happened to catch one just at the right time to see a beautiful golden, starry crown.  Then, just as I was bending down to get a closer shot of the crown, this winged vacuum cleaner appeared over the horizon of the flower and began to ruin the crown!

We were working at cross-purposes from one another.  I wanted the crown to remain intact so I could get a pretty photo.  The winged vacuum wanted pollen to help sustain his colony.  I respected that even though the winged vacuum was ruining my photo, he needed the pollen and I needed him to do the pollinating if I was to eat.   I resisted the initial urge to shoo him away – but it left me wondering . . .

Respect is a word I hear bandied about a lot these days.  In some venues disrespect shown in some form can be met with verbal or physical violence.  In others, disrespect can result in cold, distant relationships, or scorn and animosity.  I guess it’s much easier to offer respect for another when we share the same purpose or means to accomplish that purpose.  It’s much more difficult to maintain respect when we work at cross-purposes or take different roads to accomplish a similar purpose.  When respect breaks down in relationships, it’s a slippery road to a mucky mire of an existence.

When I read the quote from Isaiah, “The highways are so dangerous that no one travels on them. Treaties are broken and agreements are violated. No one is respected any more,” I thought, “Hmm, that sounds very much like our world today – no one is respected any more,” and the result is that highways of cooperation and relationship building (both critical to our shared existence and joyful living) feel too dangerous to travel.  I see this situation not just in the political arena, but also in church and individual relationships.  When no one is respected, the relational highways become too dangerous to travel, and separation and isolation become the norm instead of cooperation, relationship building, and joyful living.  If you were to read further in this chapter of Isaiah you would see that the passage I quoted sets the stage for yet another time when God was going to act to help God’s people.  There’s good news.  Even though we’re creating a mess of our relationships it’s not too late if we allow God’s love in Christ to inspire us to love like we’re loved by God.  That love cannot help but result in respect for one another, and can make our dangerous relational highways safe to travel. 

I want the relational highways to be safe to travel, so I pray that God will teach me to respect others, especially those who do not share my ideas, opinions, or methodologies.  How about you?

Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Cross Lanes United Methodist Church
Cross Lanes, West Virginia

Help save lives! For more information on my book, “A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression,” visit
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~ by revgenelson on July 2, 2014.

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