Restless. Isaiah 41:17
Our guest author is the Reverend Laura Mariko Cheifetz (given the nickname “LFC” by others — guess what the “f” stands for?), who works in religious publishing, is altogether deeply pragmatic in the midst of her yearning for a world that embraces God’s abundance, and can’t turn off her critical race feminist Christian brain. She is hapa yonsei — a multiracial Asian American of fourth-generation Japanese American and white Jewish descent — a queer cisgender auntie who would rather be condemned for preaching love and liberation than lauded for preaching exclusion.
When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none,
and their tongue is parched with thirst,
I the Lord will answer them,
I the God of Israel will not forsake them.
The Israelites weren’t moving for the heck of it. They were restless to get home after being deported to Babylon. They were trying to come home through the desert. But how would they survive?
I, the God of Israel will not forsake them.
The desert is beautiful, but without water, people will die. Here, God will change the desert to an oasis, with plenty of water.
I know a desert.
It runs along the southern border of the United States with Mexico. It has a wall that separates families and interrupts the free flow of people, without disrupting the free flow of capital and goods. This desert kills. An ineffective immigration system, the wall, and increased Border Patrol activity have pushed more migrants further into remote areas of the desert. Even with net migration dropping precipitously, the remains of 2,500 people have been found since 2001 in the Tucson Sector. I feel sick thinking of these people and their families. The desert is dangerous without water.
You know what else can be dangerous? Water. Tainted water.
We are thirsty, and we are restless because Flint still doesn’t have clean water. I mean, how the fuck has this not been fixed? How is this not urgent?
It’s dangerous to not have enough water.
Palestinians in occupied territories and refugee camps do not have enough access to clean water, as water is diverted disproportionately to Israeli interests and settlers, and turned on only sporadically to refugee camps.
What else is dangerous, though? Protecting the water in the first place.
The water protectors at Standing Rock have been praying not just for themselves. They are protecting the water for the generations to come.
God may not have forsaken Flint, the Navajo Nation, Palestine, or Standing Rock, but sometimes it feels we have.
This whole country is restless. We are thirsty. We are thirsty for truth. We are thirsty for justice. What if this country, or even the entire world, could become an oasis?
The work for justice feels impossible. The ugliness we have become seems insurmountable. Hate incidents documented by the Southern Poverty Law Center are on the rise.
Surely, you are restless. Be restless. And that restlessness will invite you to action.
“What are we gonna do, Spock?” asks Captain Kirk.
“We will do what we have always done, Jim. We will find hope in the impossible.”
– Spock in “Star Trek: Beyond”
Hope in the impossible. Is this not what God’s love calls us into?
When the poor and needy seek water,
and there is none…
I the Lord will answer them.
The impossible calls us to think beyond the status quo, beyond preserving our comfortable lives. Our restlessness and our resulting actions will cost us. How we use the earth’s resources, how we use water, this is not sustainable.
Water is not infinite.
God’s love is infinite.
Love is infinite.
We will find hope in the impossible. The only way out of a terrible situation is through.
Be restless. Act boldly. Be willing to give up your comfort so others may have the water they need to live.
“We will do what we have always done.”
I, the God of Israel, will not forsake them.
Go. Do. You will not be forsaken.