My purpose is to give them a rich and satisfying life.
(John 10:10 NLT)
Jesus compared himself to a shepherd who gathers his flock. The story in John says that those who heard him didn’t understand, so he goes on to explain how the shepherd provides for and guards his sheep. And, Jesus says, his own purpose is to give those who come to him a rich and satisfying life.
C.S. Lewis once wrote that “we are half-hearted creatures, fooling about with drink and sex and ambition when infinite joy is offered us, like an ignorant child who wants to go on making mud pies in a slum because he cannot imagine what is meant by the offer of a holiday at sea.”
In Isaiah 55, God asks, “Why do you spend your money and your energy on things that do not strengthen or satisfy you? Listen to me, and you will find the finest food and have life.”
God goes on to say that His thoughts and plans and ways are far beyond anything we could imagine and that He accomplishes what He intends to do. Listen to me, He says, and you will live in joy and peace (v. 12) and your life will be transformed.
Where once there were thorns, cypress trees will grow.
Where nettles grew, myrtles will sprout up.(v. 13)
If you study the symbolism of cypress trees and myrtle, you’ll find varying interpretations. One commentary says that cypress represents eternal life, and myrtle symbolizes peace and tranquility. It’s enough for me, today, to know that God promises to change my life, to remove thorns and nettles, and replace them with good things.
This is not to say life will be smooth and easy, with no questions or pain or disappointment or want. Somehow, we Americans especially have come to think that those things do not belong in our picture of a “good life.” Yet often God works in the hard times to bring us good things; he may bring us to even greener pastures by walking with us through the desert.
The last verse of chapter 55 in Isaiah says that these events will be an everlasting sign of his power and love. I believe God works in our lives daily, but we often miss seeing it.
Your Assignment: Ask the Spirit to open your eyes, to help you SEE the signs of God’s power and love in your days.
May the Spirit within the children of God light a flame of desire that says, Yes, I want a rich and satisfying life and I do not want to spend my life on things that do not satisfy.
Father, replace thorns and nettles with peace and joy.