Thursday, April 23, 2009

God's Feast of Joy

It was perhaps the best object lesson ever. A youth minister had his group dress up. He picked them up in a limousine. They ate at a fancy restaurant. They toured the nice part of town. All day they reveled in the rich things of life. Then, he took them to “Mount Trashmore,” (the hill in the picture's background) the Cedar Rapids city dump. He looked at them and said, “Everything you saw today ends up here.” Wow.

In Isaiah 55, God issues an invitation to the people of Israel who had strayed so far from him. “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat!” By his grace, God was inviting them to return to himself. He would give them water that would quench their thirst. He would give them bread that would feed them. It was a gift from him, given “without money and without cost.”

Then, God asks a question. “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?”

Has anything you bought ever truly satisfied your soul? Sure, it was a thrill when it was brand new; shining and bright. But it grows old, and the thrill is gone. That new car eventually rusts, clicks over a hundred thousand miles, and ends up in my driveway. That new house grows old. Things lose their luster and their excitement.

Does work really quench that thirst in your soul? Sure, its great when you get ahead, when you make the sale, when you land the new account. Recognition, status, power; they are a great rush. But then they have to be maintained. The exciting new job becomes drudgery.

One Saturday, years ago, the soccer team I coached (a local Christian school) won a big tournament. My son scored a goal in the last seconds of the game to tie it, and he won it in overtime with another goal. We were all sky high. I was a proud dad and coach. It was a great moment. But, a few days later, the excitement has died down a little. The euphoria was gone.

That is the way life is. You get thrills and joys, but they do not provide lasting satisfaction. The things of this earth never satisfy. Not really. Not eternally.

And yet, that is precisely what so many invest themselves in. We pursue the treasures of this earth, forgetting our Savior’s warning that you cannot serve God and money, that earthly treasures can be taken away. We pursue success, forgetting that we are to pursue his kingdom and his righteousness. We seek life’s thrills, ignoring their transitory nature. Why do we invest so much of ourselves in things that do not satisfy? Why do we ignore the God who offers eternal satisfaction for our souls? No one knows why sinful souls make foolish choices.

And there is God, still beckoning, still offering. “I will quench your thirst. I will feed your soul.” Come to me. That is the kind of God we serve. Spurned by his people, he continues to hold out his hand of love. He offers the water of life, the bread of life. He offers not only eternal joy, but meaning and purpose here and now.

It’s time we stopped seeking what will not satisfy, and give ourselves to this God of grace.

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