“You will be ashamed because of the sacred oaks in which you have delighted; you will be disgraced because of the gardens that you have chosen.” Isaiah 1:29
This morning, as I read those words, I am aware that my “sacred oaks” loom large, roots deep. The things I have set up as my gardens of spirituality: routine prayers, scripture memorization, holy moments, spiritual instruction with my children. All good things, tools of grace, but none of them anything without the Everything.
Isaiah writes to God’s chosen, just like me, who have taken the tools of the covenant and made them the end instead of the means. No one can fault them the motions. They do a good dance. But there’s a worm in their hearts, eating, salivating, destroying. That lion that roams the world wanting to devour us, worm its way into us, subtly change the Everything into the lesser sacred things.
I am reminded again that to pursue Him, all Sacred One, I must leave “things” behind. Things like doing, striving, performing, achieving. The only thing that counts is faith working itself out in Love. Creating in Love. Doing in Love. Working out salvation in Love. Not to be confused with saving myself through accomplishment or personal worth.
But it is confusing. As soon as the eye of faith leaves my heart, I’m turning the Sacred into sacred things, making this life about one-upping my friends, one-upping Jesus. How ridiculous and sadly amusing. I am ashamed of my sacred oaks, my measuring sticks of spirituality and all the marks on the wall from my morning “measure up” sessions masked as devotionals.
Words of hope: “Tell the righteous it will be well with them…” Isaiah 2:10. Am I not righteous, clothed in white from the one who is White? Am I not loved by Love and graced by Grace? Made sacred by the Sacred?