“Everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and you that have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price. Why do you spend your money for that which is not bread, and your labor for that which does not satisfy?” – Isaiah 55:1-2
One of the scripture readings during the third week of Lent comes from Isaiah 55. The chapter opens with a question from God. “I have provided for you all that you need, it’s all here for you. Why do you search elsewhere for that which I have already provided? Why do you pay for fake versions when I am offering you the real deal for free?”
This question reminds me of one of my favorite songs by singer/songwriter Derek Webb.
What is Not Love – by Derek Webb
What looks like failure is success
And what looks like poverty is riches
But i give myself to what looks like love
And i sell myself for what feels like love
And all just because i see things upside down
What looks like weakness can do anything
And what looks like foolishness is understanding
When what is powerful has not come to fight
It looks like you’re going to war
But you lay down your life
In the song Derek weaves together a number of Bible verses and scriptural themes to illustrate a simple idea, God’s way is very different than the way of the world. The world’s definition of success, strength, and love is different, if not completely inverse from God’s definition. Sometimes Derek, (and certainly I, and maybe you) confuse the world’s definition for these things with God’s definition.
The love that God extends to us is wholistic, transformative, and unconditional. How much time, energy, and resources do we expend in the hope that we might receive a watered-down version of love divine? God has given us a hope and a purpose. How much do we sacrifice looking to establish our place and position in the world? When we do not evaluate life along the same guidelines as God we trade God’s good gifts for second rate versions that cost us more than they’re worth.
Let us give ourselves to God’s love and live according to God’s definitions of value, power, and purpose. God is the author of life, we can trust God’s way of living.