Sunday, November 01, 2009

Rhubarb and Reward

My rhubarb plant has lived up to all expectations this year. It sits like a queen in a small patch of soil between the garden shed and the gate that leads to the path and the paying field. Whatever weeds have been allowed to congregate elsewhere in the garden, the area surrounding the rhubarb plant has been conscientiously cleared. I have eaten more stewed rhubarb with my porridge than is probably safe and more rhubarb crumbles than the elastic waist of clothes are comfortable with. I have thought about making jam, but I am not a jam person. Next year, I am confident that I will have an even better rhubarb year.

I have planted too many things over the years that have come to nothing. Sometimes the problem has been that I have forgotten that I planted it and when shoots did break through to the surface, they were wrongly identified as weeds and viciously torn from the soil. Sometimes it has just been mysterious bugs that have chomped away at leaves, or invisible things in the soil gnawing on roots.

I can feel the disappointment that God felt in Isaiah 5 when He took time and effort to plant a vineyard in the fertile field. Everything that was needed to produce wine was provided, no expense spared, no reason to anticipate failure. When the time came to harvest the grapes, all was not good – the grapes in particular.

Isaiah isn’t really talking about bad grapes, but a people of God that was bad. He goes on to list all the faults. Bug and bacteria of the spiritual kind had eaten away at the roots and core of the hearts of God’s people. Greed, addictions, false values, injustice and all other kinds of vices had infected them.

Woe to those who rise early in the morning
To run after their drinks,
Who stay up late at night
Till they are inflamed with wine.
They have harps and lyres at their banquets,
Tambourines and flutes and wine,
But they have no regard for the deeds of the LORD,
No respect for the work of his hands.
( Isaiah 5:11-12)

If that is the kind of attitude that leads to exile and abandonment by God, would an opposite attitude result in a people drawing close to God and becoming more intimate. It can be an interesting exercise to re-write a paragraph in the opposite vein and see if there is any truth to be seen.

Blessed are those who rise early in the morning
To run after God
Who stay up late at night
Till they are ignited by His word
As they feast upon the Lord
Their harps and lyres, tambourines and flutes
Burst into worship, sweet as wine,
For they see and appreciate the deeds of the LORD,
And give honour to the work of his hands.

Wow! I am not sure that expected that! Truth upon truth! That sets the bar high and paints of picture of a life walking with God that is worth aiming for.

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