This Week’s Lectionary Passage: Isaiah 55: 1-9
Ho, 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.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.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. 6Seek the Lord while he may be found, call upon him while he is near;7let the wicked forsake their way, and the unrighteous their thoughts; let them return to the Lord, that he may have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.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.
Most of us do not really know what it means to thirst. I mean, really, really thirst. After all, the shortage of clean water in many parts of the world is lost on us. We just go to the faucet (or the automatic water spout in our refrigerator door or the waiting bottle of water in the bottom fridge door). Thirst, real thirst, eludes us. But Timothy Shapiro claims that “hope is preceded by longing”. You see, God is not requiring us to be right or moral or steadfast. I don’t think that God is even requiring us to lay prostrate at the feet of God in good, old-fashioned repentance. God’s only requirement is that we thirst for God, that we desire to be with God so much that we can do nothing else but change our course and follow God. It is our thirst that draws us closer to God and closer to each other. We just have to desire something different enough to be part of making it happen.
So, what happens with those of us for whom thirst can be so easily quenched? How do we learn to hope at the deepest part of our being if we never truly long for anything? How do we discover what true need is when we often live our lives over-filled and over-served? How do we hunger for something better in a life where we are so satisfied? Perhaps that is why people like us need this season of Lent, plunging us into the depths of human need and profound grief. Maybe the point of it all is to teach us how to thirst and, therefore, to show us that for which we long.
God’s abundance, God’s quenching of thirst, God’s feeding of hunger is greater than anything that we can offer ourselves. But those of us whose lives are already filled to the brim, already stuffed beyond what we need and beyond what we can really manage, often convince ourselves that we need nothing more. There is nothing more that we can cram into our time or our budget or our houses or our bellies or our lives. And, yet, we are never satisfied. Maybe what we’re missing is not something else to fill us; maybe what we’re missing is the longing for something that we cannot quite grasp. But that longing, that deep, deep, profound longing will only come when we realize that we cannot fill it. In other words, we do not need something more; we need to learn to thirst, to long.
So, in this Lenten season, let us clear away the things with which we have filled ourselves and learn to thirst–really thirst. And there we will find our true hope.
Grace and Peace,