I have to admit that I often skim and flip through the 17th chapter of Isaiah because it is part of a long and often repetitive list of judgment oracles that spans several chapters. In my reading today, however, I paused on this passage for some reflective thinking about why we do the work that we do.
10 For you have forgotten the God of your salvation,
and have not remembered the Rock of your refuge;
therefore, though you plant pleasant plants
and set out slips of an alien god,
11 though you make them grow on the day that you plant them,
and make them blossom in the morning that you sow;
yet the harvest will flee away
in a day of grief and incurable pain.Isaiah 17:10-11, NRSV
There were apparently some in Israel who were growing beautiful gardens in honor of other gods. Living in a beautiful garden is not salvation. It may be pleasing for a time, but it will not offer salvation and refuge for our souls.
I realize that I’ve built up a pleasing garden in which to live my life. I have a great family, a great house, a great job, and so on. Without God, though, it is all for nothing. Without God, my pretty life would be an empty shell. The pretty things in my life would really be a false sense of joy and accomplishment. It is God that brings true beauty to the garden of my life. Because of God, our lives are beautiful in a different way that bears fruit today and into eternity.
Today, I am allowing this passage to serve as a reminder: God is our refuge and the source of our salvation, and it is through God that we may enjoy the truly beautiful gardens in our lives.
Photo Courtesy of Morris Arboretum