INVITATION TO THE THIRSTY
That is the title Isaiah 55 is given in my Bible.
And a picture that is so foreign to how a lot of my friends [particularly some of my atheist friends, probably even some of my christian ones] view God.
Which to me is really sad. But at the same time does make a lot of sense. Angry vengeful God is sometimes really hard to align with compassionate, grace-filled, loving and forgiving God.
But while a lot of people start at, or trip over, the violent uninterested uninvolved God, i typically try to begin my journey every day with the God who is proclaimed as being the very essence and heart of Love and then trying to wrap my head around the bits that seem to resemble that much less as i come across them. i cannot always understand and align every picture and action of that God, but there has been enough evidence of the God i have discovered and do believe in, to encourage me to keep believing and looking.
If you are someone who tends towards seeing God in a negative light, i want to invite you to try and clear your mind of that picture, just for a few minutes and approach the God that this passage in Isaiah seems to be talking about.
Even if you have a great opinion of God, try this out. Pretend that you have no concept or idea of God and that this is the God you are introduced to. The One who says things like:
“Come, all you who are thirsty,
come to the waters;
and you who have no money,
come, buy and eat!
Come, buy wine and milk
without money and without cost.
2 Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
and you will delight in the richest of fare.
So, a God who extends an invitation.
An invitation to those who have a need, a great thirst. And the invitation does not require money or resources on your behalf. Simply a response.
The invitation to feast on [fill yourself] that which is good. That which satisfies.
How does that invitation measure up to the way you live your life and what you fill your time with and spend your money on?
[This is reminiscent of the ‘Free: Spending your Time and Money on what matter most’ book study tbV and i hosted last year]
3 Give ear and come to me;listen, that you may live.
I will make an everlasting covenant with you,
my faithful love promised to David.
4 See, I have made him a witness to the peoples,
a ruler and commander of the peoples.
5 Surely you will summon nations you know not,
and nations you do not know will come running to you,
because of the Lord your God,
the Holy One of Israel,
for he has endowed you with splendor.”
An everlasting covenant. Faithful love. Imagine that the God of the Universe was that to you?
Also interesting to note that before David was a ruler and commander to the people, his first calling was to be a witness.
To be someone whose life bore witness to the relationship he had with his God. That is still the call to the church today [and how wrong we often get it] – you will be known by the love.
6 Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call on him while he is near.
This is a powerful line and reminder. This God is near to us and invites us to reach out to Him. To call on Him. Imagine a God who was present [as i know many people have the idea of, ‘Well if there is a God He sits far away with His arms folded and just watched in an uninvolved way.’] We have a God who desires to get involved but also one who works by invitation, not barging in and taking over.
7 Let the wicked forsake their ways
and the unrighteous their thoughts.
Let them turn to the Lord, and he will have mercy on them,
and to our God, for he will freely pardon.
A violent and vengeful God who delights in sending people to hell? Absolutely not.
A compassionate God who loves to show mercy and who freely pardons. But at the same time a just God who doesn’t just let all sin and wickedness pass with no consequence. It does require turning to Him and once again asking for mercy and forgiveness, but He is not slow to hand it out. He won’t even sit and hold the bad you’ve done over your head, constantly bringing it to mind and reminding you what a bad person you have been and everything you’ve done. No, this God freely pardons.
8 “For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,”
declares the Lord.
9 “As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher than your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.
Imagine a God whose thoughts and ways were higher than ours? Wait a second. Surely if there is a God then this should go with0ut saying? And yet, we little pathetic feeble [in comparison] human types dispel the notion of a God because we can’t get our minds around Him? Surely we would have to throw out the idea of God if we could.
And so, if we take this idea on board, then surely we should start living as if it was true. I have this mantra or song that goes, ‘God is bigger than my box, bigger than my theology, bigger than my understanding… He’s bigger than me,’ which i wrote a little bit about here via a Scott M Peck quote from ‘The Road Less Traveled’. The notion that maybe my picture of God or life or religion or a variety of other things [how i do community, how i incorporate generosity in my life etc] is an out of date map that needs to be revised or updated.
10 As the rain and the snow
come down from heaven,
and do not return to it
without watering the earth
and making it bud and flourish,
so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater,
11 so is my word that goes out from my mouth:
It will not return to me empty,
but will accomplish what I desire
and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
i really love this. The idea that God’s Word will not return void. It will accomplish what He desires and achieve the purpose for which it was sent out.
This is a reminder that we just need to be faithful with spreading the Word, telling the story, demonstrating the love of Jesus and that God will take care of the rest. This can be a tough one for those of us who are results driven and especially living in the instant gratification age that we are. We want answers/results and we want them now. Just be faithful. God has this.
12 You will go out in joy
and be led forth in peace;
the mountains and hills
will burst into song before you,
and all the trees of the field
will clap their hands.
13 Instead of the thornbush will grow the juniper,
and instead of briers the myrtle will grow.
This will be for the Lord’s renown,
for an everlasting sign,
that will endure forever.”
Imagine if these lines described every Christian’s religion:
Go out in joy -Imagine being known for what we are for much more than what we are against?
Be led forth in peace – Imagine Christ followers were the most peaceful people you knew and not the most stressed.
The mountains and the hills bursting forth in song – imagine the idea that mankind and nature are in harmony and instead of devastating the planet for our greed, we were able to relate in the most sustainable of ways, so that every person had enough and so that there was no need and no desecration of place.
And imagine a world where instead of the thornbushes of poverty and AIDS and abandoned and trafficked children, we would see the growing junipers of adoption and sharing of resources and strong growing families.
Instead of the briars of racism and sexism, political scandal and nepotism, the insane waste of food supplies and deforestation that is out of control, we would have the myrtle of reconciliation and unity and rebuilding and more.
For me, the God of this passage IS the God i follow and serve and love and try to live to be a witness to. I am deeply saddened by the image of God we have helped create for those who stand at a distance from Him and trust that day by day we will seize new opportunities to put that right. May God forgive us for the shoddy witness we can too often be to His name and reputation. And may we do better.
The God i believe in is very likely not the God you don’t believe in.