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God’s Plans for us
Isaiah 55

Isaiah tells us how Israel, in exile would be freed once again to live under God’s blessing.  Here, no money would change hands for wonderful provisions, because all of it is a gift from God, entirely free, a pouring out of blessing through God’s grace.  All that is good, the richest fare representing spiritual and soulful values, would satisfy them.  In exile Israel had to labour for every material provision; in freedom God would drench them with the greatest treasures:  life, peace, and joy.

And the Prophet goes on, speaking of the “thoughts” and the “ways” of the Lord, which are about God’s plans  -   here, for it’s about the restoration of Israel in fulfilment of God’s Covenant with them.  But, the words fit any of God’s plans, because they are beyond what we could ever think to ask or imagine. In short, God’s ways and thoughts are incomprehensible to us.  There is an entire existence of which we have no knowledge; there is an eternal plan we really can’t grasp, and there is a divine nature that our human minds will never comprehend.  We sometimes limit God with our categories and our understanding, or we decide what God must hate or like because those are the things I hate or like.  And, just when we think we have figured God out or determined how he should act, he does something far more wondrous.  We can be very slow to learn, which is why the only thing we can really do is trust what God says and give him honour and praise for what He does.

The other thing about God’s thoughts and ways as they have been revealed to us is how the word of the Lord is effectual and does not return to Him empty or void.  This means that what He says will be accomplished because his word is the expression of His infinitely powerful will.  No word from God is vain, untrustworthy, or intended to deceive; nothing God plans to do can actually be interrupted or set aside by humans . . . we might feel that a spanner is thrown into the works from time to time, but ultimately the Lord’s will always succeeds, always makes good, always endures.  His word will always achieve its purpose, just in the same way the rain waters the earth to produce the fruit, and returns to heaven having fulfilled its purpose.  Nothing from God will be wasted or ineffective.

And this is the grace of God that we live by . . . a grace that gives us hope when the going is tough, even unimaginably horrible.  Right now there are those on the earth who cry out for a source of water to use and drink, while others are being flooded out of their homes and businesses – even here in the UK at the moment, as we know from the news in Cumbria or up in Scotland.  It is so hard to talk about the Lord being in control, bringing wars to cessation as the Psalmists frequently declare, when around us the world appears to be going mad with bloodlust and warmongering and greed and hatred; and when natural disasters seem to be happening across the globe at a frightening rate.  But it is at such times we can rely on the Lord’s presence and strength and grace . . . he never promised to be an insurance policy against bad things happening, and he never promised that he would prevent the challenges or a crises we can face  -   but he promises daily that when life goes belly up for us, he’s right there with us in the rubbish and the fear, sometimes by our side, sometimes carrying us, but always there, always strong, always loving, even when we don’t feel that he is around.  And from what I’ve learned about him over the years, that’s a pretty amazing promise.