* This post is part of an Advent devotional, being posted daily during Advent 2014. For an intro to this series of posts, please read the initial post here.
Friday: 12 December
Read: Isaiah 40:21-31
(Light two candles)
We live in a culture that sees self-sufficiency as a necessary and defining mark of our transition into adulthood; and we have wholeheartedly and almost unquestioningly embraced that value. It’s not simply an immigrant work ethic that has coaxed us into pulling ourselves up by our bootstraps. No, it’s much more. We idolize independence, whether in the form of a driver’s license or the sudden riches of a lottery win or the lifestyles of professional athletes and Hollywood stars.
But independence does not become us. We are communal beings. We are people created in and for relationship with God, other people, and the rest of creation. The more we strive for independence from God, from others, from our environment, the more we distort and disable ourselves and everything around us. We possess and devour the earth – just as we did with that first bite of forbidden fruit in the garden. We distrust and compete with fellow image-bearers, as if our survival depends on their submission and our exaltation. We deceive ourselves in order to live as if God does not exist in our economics, housing, politics, careers, entertainment, sexuality. For to admit God’s presence and interest in these areas of our lives would expose the interdependence of our relationship with others.
Willingly enticed into doing life on our own terms, as if we could do life apart from the God who made us, we are still feeling the tsunami-sized ripple effects of that original headfirst plunge. Torture tactics and drone warfare, criminalization of immigrants, sexual objectification of women, valuing violence as entertainment, racial profiling and demonization of the other pummel us into fearful isolation from each other. Our independence was more than any one of us – or even all of us together – were prepared for. Yet while we were drowning under the weight of our sin, God dove into the ensuing riptide and rescued us, crying out in that life-giving, cosmos-forming voice of creation: “I’ve got you.”
Though we tried to live without God, God has refused to live without us. God knew the limits of our independence and how we would succumb to the weight and strain of our efforts to do life apart from God. We were never meant to carry on without God. Isaiah’s words to us here are words of encouragement and peace. Take heart, the everlasting God, the one who made you in the beginning, will not grow weary. There are no limits to what God will do in order to rescue us from our own foolishness. We will soar, we will run, and we will walk because of what the Lord has done.
Come quickly, Lord Jesus, that the light of your life may bring the unshakeable peace that causes all of creation to flourish! Amen.