The nation to whom the prophet Isaiah wrote languished through the empty motions of a hollow religion. All the right words, all the right appearances, but zero results. They even fasted and prayed. They looked and sounded orthodox, but they totally missed the experience of God’s favour. They observed the external Sabbath, but they lacked the internal shalom. Why? Don’t hurry through the answer. Here’s a passage worth reading aloud, perhaps more than once.
You are fasting to please yourselves. Even while you fast, you keep oppressing your workers. What good is fasting when you keep on fighting and quarrelling? This kind of fasting will never get you anywhere with me. You humble yourselves by going through the motions of penance, bowing your heads like reeds bending in the wind. You dress in burlap and cover yourselves with ashes. Is this what you call fasting? Do you really think this will please the LORD? No, this is the kind of fasting I want: Free those who are wrongly imprisoned; lighten the burden of those who work for you. Let the oppressed go free, and remove the chains that bind people. Share your food with the hungry, and give shelter to the homeless. Give clothes to those who need them, and do not hide from relatives who need your help. Then your salvation will come like the dawn, and your wounds will quickly heal. Your godliness will lead you forward, and the glory of the LORD will protect you from behind. (Isaiah 58:3–8)
Have you hit a wall in your spiritual walk? Feeling like your relationship with God has grown stale, flat, maybe a little forced? My advice is to take on a fresh reading of His Word—you can start by meditating on Isaiah’s compelling reminder above. Linger over the words. Meditate on those images. Listen for His prompting. Be patient. Don’t hurry. Allow the Lord to bring you back to a place of joyfulness and wonder...centred in Him, not you. Recovery is never rapid. Give it time. God’s not going anywhere.
Devotional content taken from Good Morning, Lord...Can We Talk? by Charles R. Swindoll. Copyright © 2018. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries. All rights reserved.