Day 9— God(Damn)It [Isaiah 24:5]
Earth is polluted by its very own people, who have broken its laws, disrupted its order, violated the sacred and eternal covenant. — Isaiah 24:5 (The Message)
Today, as I meditate on this passage in Scripture, I’m struck by the casual way in which we squander the gift of God’s radical grace. As I mentioned in my previous post, I’m not big on the God of the Old Testament. The ancient history seems far removed from my own day to day life, with its lineages and wandering tribes.
Yet, when I look beneath the surface, both the Old and New Testaments become a river, swelling and rushing around and beyond me, with untraceable origins.
Questioning why the river exists is a very human thing to do.
Questioning why I’m sitting on a certain riverbank, or whether I can swim back to safety if I fall in- completely understandable.
But that’s not how a river works. The river flows on regardless of how much I over-analyze it, how much I wish it took a different path. To suppose anything else is to fundamentally misunderstand the nature of rivers.
And you know what?
This is exactly how we treat God.
We pollute the Earth, both literally and metaphorically.
We break its laws, set forth for us by the only One who governs the land we walk on and has dominion over the air we breathe.
We disrupt its order with our skyscrapers and subways, and supersonic jets — foolishly supposing that in travelling above, on, and below His creation that we have somehow conquered it.
And yes, we violate the sacred and eternal covenant.
Our story is one of rebellion, of being stubborn, headstrong, and idolatrous. The moment we try to be perfect, we fail, because the only true perfection is found in God.
In spite of us and, miraculously, BECAUSE of us, God holds true.
As a queer man, this epiphany holds special significance. So many churchgoers of so many denominations break God’s word and stand in judgment of people just like me. They presume to know God’s intention and love better than God Himself, and designate themselves a special gateway through which all requests must pass.
This is oppression.
God is liberation.
Later, in Isaiah 56:3, it says:
“Don’t let foreigners who commit themselves to the Lord say,
‘The Lord will never let me be part of his people.’
And don’t let the eunuchs say,
‘I’m a dried-up tree with no children and no future.’
I’m reminded how Ignatian spirituality tells us to “find God in all things”, and in all people — foreigner, eunuch, and adulterer.
He is there in the foreigner’s eyes, in the red desert mountains of the Southwest, in the soft shuffle of brushes keeping time in some forgettable coffeehouse jazz band. There is freedom and love and unmerited grace in crisp mountain air, the pealing of church bells — if only we would look beyond this world into the next.
That is not to say that there is no good to be done in this world — far from it. This fleeting time we have with each other is best used making ourselves ready, not shying away in fear or pretending that our “busy lives” somehow only leave an hour for Him on Sundays.
So give grace as He would. Love as He loves. Be Christ for others, and He will reward you more profoundly than you could ever imagine.
My favorite Psalm, the 46th, says:
There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells…
During this Advent season, do not sit on the shore, wondering what it means to immerse yourself. Dive in, let the river do what rivers do, and let your sorrows be replaced with everlasting joy.