Pursuing a Mirage
Tuesday, June 11 2019
Dear friend: how are you? How have you done with the last few reflections, where we have been studying Isaiah 35 - how our arid and scarce lives can be transformed into abundant springs of water in the presence of the King. We have seen the five marks of the presence of God that ought to characterize our lives, if we are truly submitted to Him and walking in His ways: we will have lives filled with beauty and song, strength, miracles, holiness and joy.
Today we will look at Isaiah 35:6b - 7a, the two verses that encapsulate the miracle that God wants to perform on the earth and for His people.
“… for waters break forth in the wilderness,
and streams in the desert;
the burning sand shall become a pool,
and the thirsty ground springs of water…”
Initially, without the life-giving presence of God, the soil and our lives are described in four phrases: the wilderness - the desert - the burning sand - the thirsty ground. All are expressions of dryness and desolation.
Now, let’s look more closely and carefully at the phrase “the burning sand”: according to Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones, a more correct translation would be the word “mirage” - that is, an optical illusion where faraway objects appear to reflect off a flat surface as if they were liquid or water, but the reality is other. Mirages are always seen in the desert: all around, mile after mile and kilometer after kilometer, there is only dry sand. Then, in the infernal heat of the wasteland, water seems to be shining in the distance. Those who walk in the desert, thirsty for water to calm their thirst, are often confused and think they have really found it, and they go after it. But what they have seen is only the appearance of water, because in reality it does not exist there - it is only an optical illusion because of the heat and the distance. When they finally arrive at the place where they thought they saw water, what a great disappointment! because there is no water there at all, only more dry sand.
And that is how it is in real life as well. In his book “Thirsting After God”, Dr. Keith Price wrote: “Many of us live disappointing lives. We were told about “the rivers of living water”, but the only thing we have experienced are mirages.” In our search for water, the real thing, we run from mirage to mirage, always longing and hoping to be satisfied. But we never are, because every mirage is just one more disappointment and heartbreak. We hope that the mirages we are looking for will fill us up, or that they will at least drown our problems, but no! they never fill us up! They simply teach our mirages to swim better!
And what are some of these mirages that we pursue, thinking that they will fill us and finally satisfy us?
We pursue the mirage of pleasure, ignoring or forgetting that true and lasting happiness is a derivative and a consequence, not a goal in and of itself. The goal is correct living.
We pursue the mirage of power, but true power does not come from a freedom without limits - it comes from submission. Only when we are yoked to Christ, the only source of true power, can we be free.
We pursue the mirage of possessions, but they never satisfy us, because the more we have the more we want. Possessions alone will never bring us true joy.
We pursue the mirage of knowledge, but true wisdom comes only from God through His Word, the Bible.
We pursue the mirage of change, thinking that a new job, a new house, a new hobby, even a new life-partner will make us whole. But we do not realize that the problem does not lie in other people or circumstances - the real problem is not outside of me, but inside of me. I myself need to change.
We pursue the mirage of seeking our inner self. Perhaps, if and when we do so, we may understand ourselves better, but we will still not have the will nor the power to transform ourselves into the people we want to be. In reality, the problem is not within ourselves either. We ourselves, and our inherent sin, are the problem. And for that reality and that truth, only the forgiveness of God is the answer.
Dear friend: have you been pursuing a mirage, thinking that it will satisfy you and make you whole? Could it be that your whole life is a mirage? Because if I am always pursuing a mirage, in the end I will myself become one: mere appearance without reality. My life will disappoint and kill others, instead of refreshing them and giving them life. Could it be that your life discourages and disappoints others instead of encouraging them and bringing them hope?
Dear friend: even if it is so, with God there are always new opportunities.
The prophet Isaiah, in chapter 55 of his book, asked: “Why spend money on what is not bread, and your labor on what does not satisfy?” And he himself replied: “Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters; and you who have no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost… Listen, listen to me, and eat what is good, and you will delight in the richest of fare. Give ear and come to me; listen, that you may live…” (vs.1-3)
(Ideas taken from “Thirsting After God”, by Dr. Keith Price)
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