Snow. Admittedly, I have a sordid relationship with this form of water. The Texan in me much prefers warmth and sunshine. I’ll take a window seat to this weather phenomenon. It is easier to enjoy that way, much less work for me all the way around. A fresh layer of mystery covers the ground each time snow comes. The smallest boot print or movement changes the landscape. Oh the quiet. The wonder.
But here is what I know: winter and its snow are working on something under the surface. The work that happens beneath the visible is a necessary step for the world’s new life to erupt into spring. The work that must happen deep inside of us is necessary, too. We can’t be bystanders watching from the window seat. We must be part of the messy stuff of this life.
Isaiah is not prophesying with crystal ball divination. He speaks to a particular people at a particular time with the urgency of now! God speaks through Isaiah to ask God’s people to cut the crap. (Okay, I’m paraphrasing.) Burnt offerings mean nothing if the work below the surface of their lives, in their very being, isn’t happening. From this first chapter forward, Isaiah and God set up the expectation for this under-the-surface work that requires learning to do good; seek justice, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, plead for the widow (v. 17). But God, this is such hard work. Can I please just sit at the window?
What if the good we thought we were doing wasn’t good for the oppressed or the orphan or the widow at all? Examine your good work—does it center on the lives and stories of those you serve or are you at the center?
Creator of winter work, may I heed this necessary, good reminder that all burnt offerings are incomplete without the fabric of your daily work in my life. May I strive to do good today and put the people I serve at the center. May I strive to seek justice now, rescue the oppressed, defend the orphan, and plead for the widow because that is what you truly demand. Amen.