–By Elizabeth Ahlman
“For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven and do not return there but water the earth, making it bring forth and sprout, giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater, so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but it shall accomplish that which I purpose, and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
“For you shall go out in joy and be led forth in peace; the mountains and the hills before you shall break forth into singing, and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands. Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress; instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle; and it shall make a name for the LORD, an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off” (Isaiah 55:10-13 ESV).
Sometimes, being a missionary is a discouraging thing. Missionaries often face apathy and downright hostility. They may spend years cultivating a relationship, waiting for the moment when the walls come down. They may hit new walls — government restrictions, hostile family members of their charges, illness, language barriers. Come to think of it, it can be a discouraging thing to be a parent, a teacher, a friend, a sibling, an employee…waiting for the time when your child, student, friend, sister or co-worker finally really hears you saying: “Jesus loves you and He died for you.” Waiting for the moment when after years of caring, years of speaking the Truth, there is recognition, there is openness. And sometimes that moment comes when we get to see it. And sometimes it doesn’t. It’s a difficult thing to be a Christian loving a world which hates the Word we share. It’s a difficult thing to be a Christian speaking that Word to a loved one who seemingly has no need of it.
There is a promise, though, that Yahweh through Isaiah proclaims to us as we love a world that hates the Word. It is Yahweh who sends forth the Word from His very own mouth. And Yahweh promises that His Word does NOT return empty. His Word will succeed in doing that for which Yahweh has sent it. It will not fail His purposes, even when we don’t understand exactly what those purposes are, even when we cannot see the success. We are not alone. It does not depend on us. Yahweh will speak and Yahweh will reap.
And what guarantee do we have of this? The Word of Yahweh did come forth from His mouth. The Word of Yahweh came forth into this world which hates Him and dwelt in the flesh among those who were apathetic, those who hated Him, those who did not recognize Him. Jesus Christ, the Word made flesh came and watered the earth, causing it to “bring forth” and “sprout,” bringing belief out of unbelief, hope out of hopelessness, zeal out of apathy. Even when the world that hated that Word seemingly defeated Him, the Word was not destroyed and it did not fail. It succeeded in that for which God had purposed it: to seek and to save a world that was lost and hated it by dying on a cross. When Jesus Christ rose from the dead, God the Father confirmed that His Word had returned to Him abounding in good fruit, in cypresses and myrtle, not in thorns and briers. His Word has already won, and so we go out from the place where we hear that Word from Yahweh’s own mouthpiece, our pastors themselves, in joy and in peace. And we speak that Word of life once again to a world that hates it because Yahweh has promised and He has delivered on that promise: Jesus Christ has accomplished all for which He was sent and He will deliver that which He has accomplished — life, salvation, forgiveness — again and again for me, for you, for your child, your student, your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, your mission field.
Let us Pray: Lord God, Heavenly Father, You send Your Word into this world filled with hate of You to accomplish all for which You have sent it; help us ever to trust and take comfort in the truth that Your Word, Jesus Christ, has already accomplished that for which You sent Him, and that You continue to send out Your Word to seek and to save, so that as we share that Word in our vocations, we rest in Your promises; through Jesus Christ, Your Son, our Lord, who lives and reigns with You and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
- This was the Old Testament reading for the 1-year lectionary. The Gospel reading was the Parable of the Sower. Read last year’s devotion on the Parable.
- Pray for all missionaries, that they would trust in God’s promises as they seek to proclaim His Word.
- Pray for those in your life who do not yet believe, that God as He has promised would make His word efficacious.