A Well-Watered Garden (24-02-23)
Psalm of Praise: Psalms 51:10,15-17
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.
Open my lips, Lord, and my mouth will declare your praise.
You do not delight in sacrifice, or I would bring it;
you do not take pleasure in burnt offerings.
My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit;
a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.
Bible Reading: Isaiah 58:10-12
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. Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins and will raise up the age-old foundations; you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls, Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
I love the imagery here as Isaiah litters his words with metaphors of how the impact of lives focussed on God can change the world around them. In a sun-scorched land you will be like a well-watered garden. A spring whose waters never fail. Rebuilding ancient ruins. Raising up age-old foundations. Repairer of broken walls. Restorer of streets with dwellings.
I wonder which of these images speaks most to you of how you would like to see your life impact the world around you.
The first house we bought was a bargain; it had rising damp, rotten floorboards, broken walls and no heating. Over the next twelve months we gained a lot of satisfaction in remedying these. Creating an environment where people can live in peace and safety might be your goal.
Or maybe being like a well-watered garden. In a summer of drought we re-cycled water from baths, washbasins and kitchen sinks, keeping many of the plants, fruit bushes and vegetables in the garden alive so they remained productive later in the year.
These are all promises that God makes to a nation in a time of crisis when, through the prophet Isaiah, he urges them to show they have turned back to God, not through a simple apology and a day of fasting, but through a life focussed on justice and compassion. In this case feeding the hungry and setting the oppressed free.
These truths are echoed centuries later when Jesus says to those who worry about the future, ‘Seek first the kingdom of God and all these things will be added to you as well.’ (Matthew 6:33)
When we do these things God promises, ‘You will be a light shining in the darkness’ and ‘The Lord will guide you always.’
I wonder what God might be calling you to do as you seek first his Kingdom today?
Lord Jesus, in this sun-scorched land, give me the grace, along with my Christian family, to seek first the Kingdom of God.