Satisfied in Sun-Scorched Lands

Scripture: Isaiah 58:6-14

How do we live a full life in the emptiest of places?

The Babylonians had literally DECONSTRUCTED the faith of the people of Judah. They had torn down the temple. Brick by brick by brick. They had torn apart the very heart of the Hebrew’s faith.

Has your faith ever felt like it is crumbling around you?

Isaiah announced to the Jewish exiles in Babylon God’s intention to bring about their release from captivity and their return to Zion through the foreign King Cyrus of Persia. And in 538 BCE, Cyrus issued an edict allowing the Jews to return to their homeland and to rebuild their temple. The deliverance prophesied by Isaiah was unfolding. It was a time of high hopes.

A group of Jewish people left Babylon and began the work of rebuilding the community and the temple. Once there, they encountered drought, crop failure, hunger and economic inflation.

THIS was not what they had expected.

It is in this season of long held dreams decaying into nightmares that Isaiah 58 is proclaimed. Isaiah speaks to a people whose faith is hanging by a thread. And he gets upset because they are still ever busy, but never transformed.

Isaiah calls the people to repentance, compassion, works of justice, and practices that form them into all God has dreamed they might be.

Your spiritual formation does not usually happen by accident.

We experience Divine transformation when the mysterious working of God connects with our intention and surrender.

For literally thousands of years Christians have spent the 40 days before Easter Sunday anticipating the resurrection through a series of disciplines, exercises, meditations and reflections.  In anticipation of resurrection and in celebration of resurrection, because you can’t have a resurrection unless you have a death. So lent is the season where we ask, “what needs to die in me so that I can really live?”

When God is at work in your life you are released, you are rescued, you are redeemed. What is it in your life that you need to leave behind? That needs to die?

What would it look like for you over this season of walking to Easter to be intentional about ordering your life around the hope, redemption, re-creation, and resurrection of God?

How might we hear Isaiah’s prophetic call to one generation languishing in challenging, spiritually-stifling times as a call to our deepest self?

How might we surrender more fully to God’s transforming presence in our lives? How might we allow God to peel away all that hinders and hides our True Self? How do you hope to experience living as a well watered garden in a sun scorched land?