May 30, 2010

Getting Our Prayers Off the Ground

It's been a quiet few weeks here in this corner of the web... lots of reasons behind that, but none I'm ready to share quite yet.  But in these quiet days, we've been mulling "Big Questions" and I keep getting pulled back to Isaiah 58... one of my favorite passages of scripture.

Maybe I will share some of my ponderings in the next few days, but for now I just want to savor the words, and share them with you.  Here it is, from The Message:

"Shout! A full-throated shout! Hold nothing back—a trumpet-blast shout! Tell my people what's wrong with their lives, face my family Jacob with their sins! They're busy, busy, busy at worship, and love studying all about me. To all appearances they're a nation of right-living people—law-abiding, God-honoring. They ask me, 'What's the right thing to do?' and love having me on their side. But they also complain, 'Why do we fast and you don't look our way? Why do we humble ourselves and you don't even notice?'

"Well, here's why: "The bottom line on your 'fast days' is profit. You drive your employees much too hard. You fast, but at the same time you bicker and fight. You fast, but you swing a mean fist. The kind of fasting you do won't get your prayers off the ground.
  Do you think this is the kind of fast day I'm after: a day to show off humility? To put on a pious long face and parade around solemnly in black?

Do you call that fasting, a fast day that I, God, would like?

"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice, 
  
get rid of exploitation in the workplace, 
  
free the oppressed, 
  
cancel debts.


What I'm interested in seeing you do is: 
  
sharing your food with the hungry, 
  
inviting the homeless poor into your homes, 
  
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad, 
  
being available to your own families.


Do this and the lights will turn on, and your lives will turn around at once. Your righteousness will pave your way. The God of glory will secure your passage. Then when you pray, God will answer. You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'

"If you get rid of unfair practices, quit blaming victims, quit gossiping about other people's sins, If you are generous with the hungry and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out, Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness, your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.

I will always show you where to go. I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—firm muscles, strong bones. You'll be like a well-watered garden, a gurgling spring that never runs dry. You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew, rebuild the foundations from out of your past. You'll be known as those who can fix anything, restore old ruins, rebuild and renovate, make the community livable again.

"If you watch your step on the Sabbath and don't use my holy day for personal advantage, If you treat the Sabbath as a day of joy, God's holy day as a celebration, If you honor it by refusing 'business as usual,' making money, running here and there—Then you'll be free to enjoy God! Oh, I'll make you ride high and soar above it all. I'll make you feast on the inheritance of your ancestor Jacob." Yes! God says so!

5 comments:

Kim said...

Beautiful.
Cannot wait to hear more when you are read to shed some light on those BIG QUESTIONS!
In the meantime, know that you've just been prayed for from your friend in Hong Kong,
Kim

Sally said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sally said...

Attempt number two at this post...

Very poignant. Helps me re-evaluate my motivations for what I do and also helps me (silently) question/challenge the motivations of others (without passing judgment) so as to make cautious decisions regarding my participation.

1beautifulmess said...

the words in the scripture are beautiful and convicting. Love them. I am going to copy and paste into my blog.

natali said...

ohmygoodness. wow. so how about i've never visited your blog before, but i was on Holly's blog and saw your's on the side bar, and something told me to check your blog out. I scroll down to this post eventually, not reading the beginning of the post, and my eyes land on "emptiest of places..." part of the post. The awesome thing is, that I was introduced to this passage last night for the very first time. I felt GOD speaking it to me, saying 'Yes, I'm asking you to go to Mali. Right now, it seems the emptiest of places and you don't know how you're gonna move there, but I'm gonna give you strong bones. When you're weak, I'll make you strong'. And what do you know, but I'm finding myself very weak again, and He showed me the exact same verse, in the exact same version (the Message). All i can say is WOW.
Thank you so much for posting this! I'm gonna look around at your blog tomorrow and hopefully get to read more! :))

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