Isaiah 55: 1Ho, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.
I just love this invitation. Throughout our Bible we are invited – those who are hungry, thirsty, those without are invited to come and be fulfilled. Jesus proclaims “Blessed are the poor” and he feeds the multitudes! Fulfillment is such an important part of our Biblical – our Christian story. YHWH fulfills the covenants that he has with his people – during the famine, Joseph is able to provide food for his brothers / father and later God brings his people out of Egypt and provides them manna to eat, perhaps it gets redundant but at least it is food. YHWH fulfills the covenant that he made by providing a land, providing judges and later kings – providing prophets and later Jesus, all in order to keep a promise with us. And although YHWH asks for faith, for trust and obedience – the stakes aren’t really that high. You see, God doesn’t require us to bring anything but ourselves – God doesn’t care what we “have” but instead who we are. For living our life for the Divine, doesn’t take earthly materials. And yet, although the Holy is inviting us into a relationship – a relationship in which we need to bring nothing…we still have such a hard time listening don’t we? We humans have one BIG flaw and that is we often fail to believe in good things and thus sabotage things when they are good. Instead of believing people at face value or accepting people for what they give – we are constantly second guessing and over analyzing.
I remember when I finally understood what the phrase “there is no such thing as a free lunch” meant. I was in a 9th grade economics class and all of a sudden as the teacher was trying to teach us this, I realized just how good it is to be naïve some times. With this outlook – life is one big suspicion and Isaiah emphasis this when he proclaims:
2Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me, and eat what is good, and delight yourselves in rich food.
Instead of accepting the Divine relationship for what it is, we are pushing God away for the earthy. We are not eating what is good or delighting ourselves in the rich food – but instead are accepting imitation and eating processed foods that don’t satisfy. We are allowing the reputation of God to be slandered by those proclaiming to know better than Jesus’ himself God’s will for the world. We are allowing the cares of the world to consume us and bring doubt to our relationship with God and our Christian identity. We are letting our churches become places of politics and our hearts the home of skeptics – all in order to fulfill the void that a true and amazing relationship with YHWH would fill. A God who is asking us to:
3Incline your ear, and come to me; listen, so that you may live. I will make with you an everlasting covenant, my steadfast, sure love for David. 4See, I made him a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander for the peoples. 5See, you shall call nations that you do not know, and nations that do not know you shall run to you because of the LORD your God, the Holy One of Israel, for he has glorified you.
How powerful of a call from God! Incline your ear – the Divine King is demanding that we listen – listen so that we may truly live! Not live this life that we are so accustomed to that allows us to live in the secular world, filling our bodies with junk but instead a life that is full – a life that fulfills God’s will and in which God’s glory can be seen through us. A life in which we witness to the people our Great Prince of Peace as our lives become more fulfilled through the covenant that the Holy made with us. All we need do is:
6Seek the LORD while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;
But how do we go about seeking the Lord? It seems like such a daunting task to reach out and hold a conversation with God – it seems impossible. So much so that those with little faith and even those with great faith question the truth. How do we approach a God who seems so far away and yet proclaims that anyone and everyone – all those who thirst or who are hungry can come and be fulfilled? This is done through a relationship – prayer, worship, study, listening but most importantly through relationship building. You cannot call upon a friend if you don’t have their phone number – you cannot call upon YHWH if you do not know the Divine presence. And just like a blind first date, relationship building takes time and effort.
I have a sort of confession / story for you. One of our first weeks on campus of seminary, we went to a craft fair with a new seminary friend’s wife. It was an hour away and so we were in the car with her for a total of 2 hours and I think that the hour home was probably one of Russ’ worse hours of his life. You see, me and this wife got into a huge debate about the proper place for a women in church and the proper role of a minister’s wife…well after that car ride I figured the relationship with that fellow seminarian and most defiantly his wife was through. That was truly a rough beginning. And yet, after several years of schooling and now several ministries later we are all friends…good friends. Our relationship after that day took some time, we had to learn to trust one another, we had to learn to be able to communicate without debating and most importantly we had to learn to listen – truly listen to what the other was saying. But slowly and surely it happened.
It is not easy to just come to God – empty handed and willing to trust. The world has taught us that that isn’t always a sure thing. It isn’t easy to come to YHWH believing in a covenant that was placed thousands of years ago. It isn’t easy entering the divine presence and actually listening long enough to know God’s will. And it surely isn’t easy following it! And yet, God is calling us to seek the Divine Presence and promising that when we do we shall find him. And later to Isaiah the Lord says:
8For my thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways my ways, says the LORD. 9For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.
When we go looking for God we shall find him! And we are promised that we can come however we are – without anything or with everything for our Lord does not concern himself with the earthy. We are reminded at the end of this passage that the dwelling place of God is not here on earth and the rules that we know may not be the rules in which God is confined. And yet, we box God in and in doing so we hurt our relationship with the Redeemer. We confine God to the things we know, blocking the very voice of Salvation.
What kind of relationship do we have and are we accepting of the relationship that the Holy is so offering us. For the Divine is offering us a relationship full of grace – a relationship in which we are fulfilled and in which we are living a full life for the one true Creator.
We are being invited to come as we are – for fulfillment. But before we can go there, before we can truly incline our ear and truly HEAR God’s words, before we can truly seek our Lord and find the Holy, before we can accept that God’s rules aren’t necessary our rules and therefore all things are possible – we must first break away from the earthy that hold us back. We must identify the temptations that hold us into our wilderness. We must stop filling ourselves with foods, gossip, political hate or worse to fill the spiritual void that we should seek our Creator to fill.
Paul reminds us that:
12So if you think you are standing, watch out that you do not fall. 13No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it.
God will provide a way so that we may be able to endure. But in order to do so, in order to follow the way be fulfilled you must first be willing to come to YHWH and enter into a full relationship – one that isn’t hinder by the earthly but instead empowered by the things which we do not see and cannot understand. So take a leap out of our comfort zone – releasing the rules we cling to and accepting the covenant God has for us.