May 2018

May 2018
'Listen, so that you may live'.
Isaiah 55.3 (NRSV)

The children of Israel are in exile in Babylon, far from home. We often see in the Old Testament that God's people land up in trouble because they choose to suit themselves, rather than listen to God. For example, Isaiah 29 paints a picture of a people who draw near with their mouths and honour God with their lips while their hearts are far from him. Time and time again though, we see God's persevering passion for his people revealed.

Disgrace, shame, humiliation, reproach - outcomes of their temporary abandonment of God - are almost at an end; the future is now full of hope. A new society will be created, based on God's teaching.

He says to them: You've been satisfied with less than the best. Where did that lead you? You've worked hard, but got nowhere. Where you did succeed, you lost it all. Life, the way you chose, offered you no satisfaction. But.........

Listen to my words. 
Listen to my offer/my invitation.
'Listen, so that you may live.'

Like the children of Israel, we often make very poor choices. We like to suit ourselves. We think we know best. Yet we often say to our children: listen to me. I know best. My advice will be useful. Do you remember in Mark 9 that God spoke from heaven to Peter, James and John? He said: 'This is my beloved Son. Listen to him.' We too need to hear that voice.

When we fail to put aside time to listen to God, we try to fill all space with words and activity. Our prayer times become wordy, our daily lives busy and stressful. Not the sort of life God intended us to enjoy. He offers us satisfaction and delight. No burnout called for. Instead, restored relationship and a productive new life. Jesus speaks of himself as living water and bread of life. The invitation to be refreshed by him is ongoing and never ending.

Horatius Bonar wrote these words in his hymn written for the children of his Church:- I heard the voice of Jesus say,
Behold I freely give,
the living water, thirsty one,
stoop down and drink and live.
I came to Jesus and I drank
of that life-giving stream,
My thirst was quenched, my soul revived and now I live in him.