One of my favorite passages (there are many) is Isaiah 58. Many years ago I read it, then read it again and again until eventually it became motivation for this redhead to step out of her comfortable life and launch into new adventures as an overseas relief & development worker (that was 1992 and now it’s 2012: 20 years -yikes!)
The truths in this chapter are not just for overseas or for the young and strong of knees, they are for us wherever we are, at any age, whatever we’re doing, and most especially as we observe Lent.
“… Is this the kind of fast I have chosen, only a day for a man to humble himself? Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed and for lying on sackcloth and ashes? Is that what you call a fast, a day acceptable to the Lord?
Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen: to loose the chains of injustice, and untie the cords of the yoke, to set the oppressed free and break every yoke? Is it not to share your food with the hungry and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter – when you see the naked, to clothe him, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: Here am I.
If you do away with the yoke of oppression, with the pointing finger and malicious talk, and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry and satisfy the needs of the oppressed, then your light will rise in the darkness, and your night will become like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you always; He will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land, and will strengthen your frame. You will be like a well-watered garden, like a spring whose waters never fail… (Isaiah 58:5-11)
After 5 years working in the sun-scorched land of the West Bank & Gaza Strip, subsequent years in Africa, and globetrotting to arid regions of India: water in the desert is not easy to find. Bore wells must be very deep which makes them very expensive (did I mention one of my jobs was coordinating a safe-water initiative for 14 countries?)
To take Isaiah’s challenge seriously, we must go deep into our hearts and ask for God’s help pouring His Healing love into our spirits dried out from scorched circumstances (illness, loss of loved ones, loss of jobs, burn-out, hey it happens to relief & development workers!)
After we pray, we may not look on the outside like well-watered gardens (constantly giving to others or working for the oppressed when nothing ever changes can take a physical toll) but for our Spirits, hey, there’s hope…
God is faithful… He will provide – like flowers in the desert..
grace, peace & Isaiah 58 groupies
Virginia : )