You will say in that day: I will give thanks to you, O Lord, for though you were angry with me, your anger turned away, and you comforted me. Surely God is my salvation; I will trust, and will not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and my might; he has become my salvation. With joy you will draw water from the wells of salvation. –Isaiah 12:1-3
Dunkin Donuts may claim that everybody runs on them, but besides coffee, we’re all filling our tanks with some kind of fuel, from some kind of well. Those of us involved with church and doing ministry in new and fresh ways during this time of year especially feel ourselves drawing deep. For some of us, our “well” is busyness– the adrenaline of doing, going, seeing, working, accomplishing. For some of us it’s approval– pats on the back, multitudes of friends, compliments and admirers. For others of us it’s the experience of pleasure or the chance to escape from our circumstances and ourselves. Sometimes it’s food, other times it’s alcohol, or Xanex, or sex, or money. It’s what gets you through the day, what makes you feel worth being alive, feeling alive. It’s what makes you tell yourself “I’m doing something,” “I am something.”
But the truth is, you are not something but someone. Most of the time, you can tell your well from the times it’s depleted, drained– from the times you’ve been a miserable mess all day long in its absence. Feeling like you’ve wasted 24 hours when taking a day off? Your well is productivity. Feeling like a loser because nobody complimented you today? Your well is approval. Feeling embarrassed about not having what “they” have? Your well is fortune, or fame. It’s easy to draw from so many sources, until they’re gone.
Isaiah’s song in Chapter 12 sings a melody about a time in Israel’s history when they will be left with nothing but God– yet it’s joyful, unafraid, hopeful. Israel seems to be caught in the middle of winter without a Christmas to look forward to, but Isaiah sees the light. It’s almost like Isaiah needs to sing a pep-song to himself, to remind himself that turning to everything else besides God is easy, but it doesn’t last.
When we ask “where is God?” we’re often looking to be saved from something– pain, loneliness, emptiness, meaninglessness, uselessness, even ourselves. But salvation expresses itself with a second part that’s fresh, that calls us to remember we’re dreaming God-sized dreams for God and not for ourselves. Not only are we saved FROM, but we are saved FOR. Salvation is why Jesus was born.
What is your “well?” Is God enough?
Kris Beckert is the Coordinator of Operations and Communications for Fresh Expressions U.S. and is writing devotions like this for a daily Advent e-devotional. Subscribe by emailing Kris or “like” the 2013 Advent Devotional page on Facebook.
Kris Beckert is a Mission Strategist/Trainer with Fresh Expressions US. She serves as Pastor of Innovation and Multiplication at Salem Fields Community Church in Fredericksburg, Virginia.