God’s thoughts and ways (09-10-20)
Bible Reading: Isaiah 55. 8 - 11
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.
This week I have been preparing for Harvest, involved in decorating Hannington church porch, recording the online service for YouTube and putting together the content of the Benefice Harvest Festival at Walgrave on Sunday. This week has also been a week of typical Autumn weather with a nip in the air and plenty of rain. The rain has done the garden good, the flowerbeds look more alive and vibrant again and the vegetables seem to have been given a new lease of life and productivity before the first frosts. And when the first frosts do come, they will help to break up the ground for next spring’s planting. This is all part of the natural annual cycle for gardeners and farmers alike, and an essential part of our food chain.
Regular watering is vital to healthy plant growth if there is to be a good harvest, although too much rain at the wrong time may delay planting or damage the crops. However, neither gardener nor farmer has any control over the weather. And when I survey my vegetable patch and the local fields, I tend to view them and the weather from my own personal perspective.
By contrast, God holds onto the big picture. ‘He’s got the whole world in his hands’ as the song goes, not just my little bit around Walgrave. The gap between my thoughts and God’s overview is enormous. Some scholars translate ‘thoughts’ as ‘convictions’. A compassionate God has an innate conviction for the wellbeing of all humankind, holding everything together even when we humans persist in messing things up.
God has good plans. His word never returns empty. This word comes as a comfort to those who seek after God but may be felt as a threat or warning for those who resist. As we give thanks for the harvest and for God’s provision, may we work towards responsible care of the earth, fair trade and more equal distribution of resources, but also the harvest of souls. The present unprecedented times have got people thinking - and praying. According to a recent survey, one in twenty adults have started praying during lockdown. What a great missional opportunity!
Creator God, you have made the patterns of the seasons for our provision and sustenance. In you, we live and move and have our being. May we be more aware of your thoughts and ways day by day, that we may become more like Jesus and draw others closer to him. Amen.