The Second Song of Isaiah
Isaiah 55: 6-11
Seek the Lord while he wills to be found; *
call upon him when he draws near. Let the wicked forsake their ways *
and the evil ones their thoughts; And let them turn to the Lord,
and he will have compassion, * and to our God, for he will richly pardon.
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *
nor your ways my ways, says the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *
so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts. For as rain and snow fall from the heavens *
and return not again, but water the earth, Bringing forth life and giving growth, *
seed for sowing and bread for eating, So is my word that goes forth from my mouth; *
it will not return to me empty; But it will accomplish that which I have purposed, *
and prosper in that for which I sent it.
Glory to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Spirit
as it was in the beginning, is now, and will be for ever. Amen.
I do a lot of thinking, and one of the things that I've had to get over is the idea (the thought!) that my thinking alone will bring healing, transformation, and salvation. The Second Song of Isaiah from Isaiah 55 is a powerful and beautiful corrective to my own hubris about thinking that my thinking can bring me to Joy and Peace. In Isaiah 55, the prophet reminds us:
For my thoughts are not your thoughts, *nor your ways my ways, says the Lord.
For as the heavens are higher than the earth, *so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.
So, instead of trying to get to a place where my thoughts are pure, where my ways will be acceptable, where my own efforts will be rewarded, I need to find a way to enter into a deep experience of God's thoughts. The key, at least for me, may be to shut off my overly strident "thinking" and instead get into a place of "being" and of experiencing God's thinking, so that I can do the work that God has given me to do. I wonder if this is something like what Jesus was doing when the lawyer at the beginning of the Good Samaritan story was asking about what he should do for eternal life (in next week's Sunday readings). Perhaps Jesus was trying to urge the lawyer out of his thinking, and into being, into experiencing the "thoughts" of God, by showing mercy and by emulating the Samaritan's work to go above and beyond what anyone expected of him. Just as the heavens are higher than the earth, God's thoughts are higher than our thoughts, and God's ways are higher than our ways. So our work is not to try to perfect our thoughts or our ways, but rather to go deeply into that presence and that experience of God's thoughts, so we might also participate in the Joy and Peace of God.
~The Rev. Peter M. Carey