Tales of a Midwest Lutheran on the East Coast

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

Left To Our Own Devices

Devotion – Midweek Service – Wed. June 19, 2013
Text: Isaiah 65:1-9

It was raining heavily on highway 78 that day, when my husband and I found ourselves suddenly tailing a slow car in the left hand lane. At first I couldn’t quite tell, but as we pass her my sight confirmed my gut feeling – sure enough, she was texting while driving. HeLLO! I wanted to tell this woman. Didn’t she know that not only was this illegal and dangerous, but also downright rude? Sure, she may have been connecting to a long lost friend or a family member in need, but it was at the expense of the safely of those around her. It was as if the rest of us didn’t exist, or at least didn’t matter enough to warrant her consideration. For her, following her device mattered more.

Now, in Hebrew, the original language for this text, there is no word for smart phones or iPods or laptops, but the beauty of the word of God is that it is alive. Because the biblical scholars who dedicate their lives to this work decided to translate a particular Hebrew phrase a particular way, and because English is a nuanced and ever-changed language, these words written thousands of years can speak to us today.

Humanity has been inattentive to the words of God since the beginning of time, but never before had we so many devices, so many activities, so many plans to distract us before. Summer especially seems to be a time where too many voices vie for our attention, where it is easy to notice that God is calling out and reaching out to us. Because who really needs God when there are beaches to lie on and sports to be played and movies to watch and places to go and people to text?

Understandably, God sounds a little annoyed at getting the brush-off over and over again from the very same people who God saved from slavery in Egypt and set apart as a holy nation. Any parent would feel the same in a similar situation - showing nothing but love to a child who returns nothing but… nothing. It might be tempting to disown such an unresponsive child. But instead, though hurt and frustrated, God shows his children the patience of a gardener.

A friend of mine, avid gardener herself, recently bought a house with her husband, and in the backyard was a patch of what looked like unruly weeds near their compost pile. She had been on her husband’s case about cutting down a small tree in the patch… until just the other day day she noticed small purple berries growing on the tree. It turns out it was a mulberry tree, and she’s been making delicious jam ever since.

A more logical God might have given up on his easily distracted and impatient people. But luckily our God thinks in the future tense. While we only see clusters of grapes, hanging on the vine, a gardener can imagine the wonderful wine that will be the final product. While we may only see a crazy mess of weeds today, God sees what we cannot – that in the mess that we often create for ourselves, God is still calling our name and reaching out a steadying hand.

We may not be fine wine yet – we may yet have a lot of growing to do – but God is going to stick it out with us. God’s not going to stop reaching, and he’s not going to stop calling, day or night, winter or summer. Amen.

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