I love when a passage of scripture becomes a defining text for a chapter of your life. Lately, Isaiah 55 has been such a passage for me. I unpacked the first few verses in chapter 3 of An Unhurried Leader (titled, “Leading in His Presence.”). I love the invitational language of God here. In the season of Lent, this is an invitation to true satisfaction.
A couple of weeks ago, I led a morning retreat based on this text. And last week, I shared these insights with a number of leaders in the Dominican Republic. I’ve often been drawn to a question in this passage that I think God wants to ask each of us:
Why spend money on what is not bread,
and your labor on what does not satisfy?
Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good,
And you will delight in the richest of fare.
It’s a good question, isn’t it? Why indeed? Why do I spend my money the way I do? Why do I work so hard? What are my aims? Do I sometimes wake up and realize that a lot of my spending and working is actually empty and unsatisfying?
What am I actually seeking in the ways I spend my money? Am I trying to purchase something that will fill my soul? There is nothing I can purchase that is substantial or sizeable enough to do that. What does my hard work seek to acquire or achieve?
We find ourselves again in Lent. It’s a good time to ask a question like Isaiah’s. In Lent, rather than aiming at acquisition, we aim for some form of openness or even empty space. Fasting results in empty stomachs. Self-denial can quiet our selfish ambition.
But the empty here isn’t a vacuum. It is a welcoming of God’s presence. We open up space for God to be active in and through us. We seek to become quiet so that we can hear whatever He might wish to say.
In church language, we often talk about what we have to spend in ministry in terms of time, talent and treasure. Perhaps the first two speak to how we work. The last certainly seems a way of talking about how we spend our money.
What would it look like to spend our resources or expend our effort in a way that leads to true fullness? How could our spending and working lead to abundance, not just for ourselves but to enable us to easily bless others?
So Lent is more about entering in than just avoiding something. Lent is an opportunity to rest rather than strive. Lent could be about contentment rather than desperate attempts to fill our souls from the outside.
Enter in…find rest…enjoy contentment
How might these weeks of Lent leading up to Easter be a season for looking at how you spend your money or expend your effort? What are you try to get?
How satisfied have you been with our purchases or achievements?
If you’ve taken on a Lenten discipline, in what way, if any, does this Isaiah 55 question speak to you?
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