Longing for Home: An Advent Journey, 2016 — Day Six


Psalm 72:1-7, 18-19
Isaiah 30:19-26
Acts 13:16-25

Isaiah 30:19-26

Truly, O people in Zion, inhabitants of Jerusalem, you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry; when he hears it, he will answer you. Though the Lord may give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself any more, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will defile your silver-covered idols and your gold-plated images. You will scatter them like filthy rags; you will say to them, “Away with you!”

He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and grain, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous. On that day your cattle will graze in broad pastures; and the oxen and donkeys that till the ground will eat silage, which has been winnowed with shovel and fork. On every lofty mountain and every high hill there will be brooks running with water—on a day of the great slaughter, when the towers fall. Moreover the light of the moon will be like the light of the sun, and the light of the sun will be sevenfold, like the light of seven days, on the day when the Lord binds up the injuries of his people, and heals the wounds inflicted by his blow.

Oh my, this is hard passage! It is also beautiful, even lyrical, in its own unique way. That Isaiah (however many there may have been!) had a way with words, didn’t he?? It is so hard for me to think of the Lord giving ‘the bread of adversity and the water of affliction,’ even though the imagery is gorgeous.

And that wonderful picture of the voice over the shoulder? Oh, I love it! A ‘word behind me.’ Oh, yes, Lord! A word behind me, please. And in front of me. And beside me. And inside me. I long for that voice, don’t you? And I’m trying to listen for it. Sometimes it’s quite clear. Others, not so much. But the more I listen, the easier it becomes – isn’t that amazing?

Maybe not so amazing after all, though. If you think about it. Listening is at the center of it all, seems to me. Learning to listen — really listen — to another is hard.to.do. I cannot tell you how often I find myself distracted when my husband is talking to me! The dearest man in my world, and  yet . . . sometimes, I simply do not hear him — if I am reading, or if I’m in the middle of thinking about something else (which, let’s face it, happens a LOT of the time). Generally speaking, neither of us is very good at asking, “Are  you in the middle of something? Is now a good time to talk?” We both just sort of forge ahead and assume the other will be all ears, no matter what! Do you do that?

Real talking, real listening, needs to be intentional. It needs to be purposeful. It needs to be generous. So those are things I’m working on during this Advent season — intentions, purposes, generosity. How about you?

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  1. “Water of affliction” brings to mind those troubles that do not come and go quickly but instead flow on for a time. However, God does seem to move in close during such seiges and we “see” our Teacher more often and more clearly. Praise him for that! I, too, am trying to be more intentional this Advent season, to turn my mind to God in praise, gratitude, and worship. Listening would be a most worthy addition! Thank you, Diana.

  2. Sometimes that “miscommunication” happens with my husband, too. I think we’ve both learned to be a bit better about asking if we’re interrupting each other’s preoccupation with the task at hand before simply assuming the other is listening.
    Listening is a practice, indeed, and well worth our efforts.
    Blessings, Diana!

  3. Elaine Byer Reed says

    I love the Christmas pictures that you have been posting, Dianna, especially the manger scene that you have posted on this page. Our son loved playing with the figures of the simple manger scene that we had under our tree.
    I think I do a pretty good job of listening to others. But much as I want to, listening to God is not always easy. When I try to be still my mind goes a mile a minute to everything else, and the thoughts that I have, I’m not sure are from God, or are what I want to hear. This listening is something that I want to do more of. Thanks for the reminder, Diana.

    • The practice of using a few set words helps me to center in on listening, Elaine. Either the Jesus Prayer or a single word or a 2-word phrase — ‘shalom,’ ‘have mercy,’ etc. It’s called centering prayer and there are phone apps for it that are really helpful, believe it or not!

  4. Though we may chafe at their appearance in our lives and strive to get beyond them, before long we discover how the “bread of adversity and the water of affliction” are actually needful manna for our souls. For there is nothing like it for turning our hearts heavenwards and throwing us in greater dependence on God. And if we let them have their way within, they can become the development of deeper Christ-likeness in us.
    Diana, I chuckled in wry recognition when you related how you and your husband ‘listen’ to one another. Oh me too, sad to say! Distractions abound and it takes thoughtful deliberation and intent to give our loved ones our full attention. But when we do the rewards outweigh any perceived inconvenience.

    • And you know that first-hand, don’t you dear Joy? Thanks for your wisdom – always glad to see your sweet face in my comments!