A few weeks ago, I got a little card in the mail from Compassion. I've gotten a few things from them since we began sponsoring Yeimi in April, and I've received a few additional items since becoming an advocate a few months ago. But this was just a little foldout card that said "Isaiah Challenge" and encouraged advocates to choose one of three Compassion ministries to strongly focus on over the next year. I knew that there was an upcoming Compassion-involved film coming out called 58:, and it is based on Isaiah 58. I figured (correctly) that the two were related and didn't really even think much before checking the Water of Life box and dropping it back in the mailbox. Water of Life had been on my heart all summer, and I had requested a demo filter system the week before.
Today, I received more information about Water of Life focus of The Isaiah Challenge. They weren't kidding about praying for God to give you a big goal. Their suggested goals seem huge to me. I'm talking HUGE, as in more people than I speak to in an average month. Okay, if you know me well, that's probably not a very impressive number, but for me it's pretty much beyond belief. But I do still need to pray about my goal. I would like to have something concrete that I am striving for, even if I hope to exceed it. Well, after all that, I decided that I should definitely start reading Isaiah 58. I probably should have done this first, but I didn't. Here is some of what I found, first in the NIV and then in The Message.
Isaiah 58:9b-11 NIV “If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail."
Isaiah 58:6-12 The Message
6-9"This is the kind of fast day I'm after:
to break the chains of injustice,
get rid of exploitation in the workplace,
free the oppressed,
What I'm interested in seeing you do is:
sharing your food with the hungry,
inviting the homeless poor into your homes,
putting clothes on the shivering ill-clad,
being available to your own families.
Do this and the lights will turn on,
and your lives will turn around at once.
Your righteousness will pave your way.
The God of glory will secure your passage.
Then when you pray, God will answer.
You'll call out for help and I'll say, 'Here I am.'
A Full Life in the Emptiest of Places
9-12"If you get rid of unfair practices,
quit blaming victims,
quit gossiping about other people's sins,
If you are generous with the hungry
and start giving yourselves to the down-and-out,
Your lives will begin to glow in the darkness,
your shadowed lives will be bathed in sunlight.
I will always show you where to go.
I'll give you a full life in the emptiest of places—
firm muscles, strong bones.
You'll be like a well-watered garden,
a gurgling spring that never runs dry.
You'll use the old rubble of past lives to build anew,
rebuild the foundations from out of your past."
Those are some pretty strong "if, then" statements. I do not "spend myself" and I still seek my own satisfaction most of the time. I guess it only follows that I am seeing empty places and dry springs in my life. I don't know about you, but I think I'm going to try to take God up on a few of those, and I have a long way to go. Over the next few days, I will post more about Water of Life, what I want to do, and what you can do. But for now, if you are willing, please pray about what God wants you to do with this challenge and His promises if we obey.