If. . . Then

Written by Aafke Garlock

10 if you pour yourself out for the hungry and satisfy the desire of the afflicted, then shall your light rise in the darkness and your gloom be as the noonday. 11 And the Lord will guide you continually and satisfy your desire in scorched places and make your bones strong; and you shall be like a watered garden, like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.12 And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.  –Isaiah 58:10-12

I’ve got to be honest– this year has not lived up to the hype. We ran from 2020, believing that the calendar could wipe Covid-19 off the Earth like some kind of magic Clorox wipe. Instead, 2021 kept the virus and added fun phrases like “Covid fatigue” and “build back better”. The catch is, of course, we can never go back. We’ve lost almost a million Americans to a virus that can adapt faster than you can say “variant.” As a teacher, I have dealt with more teens in mental health crises than I can remember; these kids are not okay. My own children have become more anxious than ever and cling to me constantly. I am exhausted, and I know I’m not the only one. The America, and the Aafke, of 2019 feels like ancient ruins.

In times of trauma, and let’s be real, that’s where most of us are right now, our brains can drive us to hunker down and focus on ourselves. We want to run to stores and nab all the toilet paper we can find, make sure we fill up all of our gas tanks and bank accounts just in case. Look out for ourselves and our kin and that’s that. But, God has a much different plan in mind.

In Isaiah we are given some beautiful “If, then” promises from God. Contingencies if you will. Rather than filling ourselves up, God asks us to… “pour ourselves out for the hungry, and satisfy the desires of the afflicted”. If we do this, he will take our brokenness and darkness and make them whole and light. Not only that, in verse 12 he says he will rebuild and raise up the foundations of many generations. If I am obedient to God’s call to serve those who are the least able to repay me, he will give me the ultimate Build Back Better situation. He will work through me to create new foundations for my parents, my children, and many more generations to come. If we, as the Church, can remain focused in our goals of Loving God and Loving those who are Othered, those who are hungry and afflicted, we will be known as the repairer of the breach– we will have healed and restored.

In my own life, I have seen this promise lived out. I was blessed to work with my students and some amazing coworkers on a mission to help those affected by the Kentucky tornadoes. We needed to get the truck loaded and had one hour to do it– my planning time– the only bit of time I truly get to myself all day. I poured that hour out, and I am so glad I did. While I was sweating and lifting massive bags of donated clothes and toys, I was also witnessing my students sacrificing their time and energies as well, with no hesitation. We got to laugh together when I confiscated a wheelbarrow (it’s Lanesville, don’t ask) and used it to carry donations; we made inside jokes about door jams and traffic jams. That hour of sacrifice did more to repair my exhausted heart than any amount of self-care could have. How much more can we be healed and heal our scorched community if we continue to pour out ourselves to those who need it most?

 

May these last few days of the Advent season offer you ways to be Christ’s hands and feet, and in the process, heal your heart and restore your path.


2 Responses to “If. . . Then”

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