A free gift sometimes comes at great cost. As contradictory as that statement sounds, the stories of God’s people testify to its truth. Isaiah voices God’s gracious invitation for the Lord’s people to receive the gift of a great opportunity. God offers them the chance to leave Babylon, their place of exile, and return to Jerusalem, the place of their calling, to live as God’s chosen people. In reclaiming their purpose, they will feast upon God’s presence, the water that will quench their spiritual thirst, the wine and milk of a life of plentiful provision and abundance. So, what is the great cost of this gift God offers his people without money and without price (v. 1)? The exiles must have the courage and trust to let go of the lives they have built in Babylon—the businesses they have grown and the security of what is now familiar—and take hold of this opportunity. Only in doing so will they discover the true satisfaction of responding to God’s call.
I have been blessed to hold my three children and four grandchildren on their first day in this world. When I am invited to hold a newborn, I must first put down everything else I am holding to make room in my arms to embrace the miracle of new life.
God’s people in exile faced the choice of whether they would put down the lesser things of their Babylonian existence in order to embrace the miracle of a new life in Jerusalem. As we hear the carol implore us “Let every heart prepare him room,” may we find the courage and trust to leave what is easy and familiar to find the true satisfaction of embracing God’s Son and journeying where he leads.
What tempts me to stay in Babylon, my familiar life, instead of accepting God’s invitation to know the true satisfaction of responding to God’s call?
God, I hunger and thirst for you. Give me a vision of the feast you so graciously offer and the courage to begin the journey to your table. Amen.