Our journey in the desert continues as we hear God’s voice calling people to come and drink at the waters. Written almost six hundred years before Christ’s birth, Isaiah’s words point to the everlasting covenant and reign of the Messiah. The words issue an invitation of salvation and blessing, echoed by Jesus when he offers the Samaritan woman his “living water” (John 4:10-14).
Unlike the psalmist who acknowledged his deep thirst for God (Ps. 63:1), Isaiah urges his readers to act. The repetitive use of verbs such as come, listen, spend, and eat call them from apathy to action. These verses express a warning worth heeding. What keeps us away from God’s life-giving water is ignorance of our own deep need for God. Verse 2 deals with one factor that can lead us to this dangerous position—trying to quench our thirst and satisfy our hunger with “that which does not satisfy.”
As a parent, I’ve often had to warn my children against eating sugary candy before dinner time; if they do, they will lose their appetite for my nourishing meal. Similarly, Isaiah’s words warn us away from things that are “not bread.”
We find ourselves surrounded by empty treats that, like brightly colored candies, look inviting and entice us to temporary fulfillment. These temptations differ for each of us. As a writer I struggle with the allure of people’s recognition and praise, which may offer a temporary “sugar high” but ultimately does not satisfy. The Holy One has to remind me to use my writing to honor God alone rather than fulfill my need for approval.
Let us use this Lenten period to identify prayerfully the “candy” in our lives, those things that are “not bread” and do “not satisfy” and keep us from thirsting and hungering for God.
Lord, show me what I use to try to quench my thirst and assuage my hunger, instead of turning to you. Amen.