Has the so-called Christmas euphoria finally died down for you? If this was more of a “blue” (i.e., one of mourning, loss, or depression), are you relieved that you don’t feel the pressure of “keeping up” appearances?
Christmas, as with many other family occasions (weddings, baptisms, birthdays, funerals, etc.), always comes with a mixture of emotions. No single emotion could ever completely cover our experiences for Christmas. This is not to deny that it is God’s love that is the overarching ultimate emotion, but that we human beings experience more than just love.
The promise conveyed in Isaiah is that God’s coming and salvation is so much more than just the immediate. This is why accepting and embracing (not necessarily enjoying) all the emotions that come with this time of year is important. For without all the emotions—especially the negative ones—the grace and magnificence of God’s grace misses much of the transformative power.
Isaiah’s words do lead to some questions, though. How are pastures possible on barren heights? How do people not starve or thirst under scorching sun? As in the case with much of the Scriptures, it can be easy to over-spiritualize the Scriptures, especially when we don’t understand them. Yet, when taken in the context with salvation and covenant, the spiritual aspects seem to be the focus, rather than our physical needs.
It is not a great stretch, especially when we take into account Jesus’ words to the woman at the Well of Jacob. In fact, it is Jesus’ words that guide us to equate not being hungry and not thirsting to the spiritual gift of the Living Water. Never thirsting? At the well that gave water for generations of Israelites the physical has been and is being fulfilled, only the spiritual remains. We all understand that the immediate, “earthly”, “worldly”, “physical” impact us significantly. It is the spiritual that outlasts, but we often overlook or neglect it.
The writer of Hebrews wants to make sure that people do forget or “drift away”. The imagery is that of things that were originally floating next to (or with) each other, but just sort of drifted away. In other words, the author of Hebrews is here more concerned about the incidental, accidental, careless, negligent and other “not deliberate” actions away from the faith and the Christian life.
Regardless of our emotional state or the emotional states of those around us, we are not to allow ourselves to drift away from the life-giving nature and our understanding of God, no matter how far the world and our emotions want to pull us away from God.
1) What recently has “encouraged” you to drift away from God?
2) What are areas that regularly lead you to drift away?
3) Life can throw a lot of things at you, and many of them unpleasant (at best). How do you keep yourself focused on God, on not on other things?