“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.” –Isaiah 55:1
A lot of changes have taken place in my life recently. One of the biggest is that my living and job situations have changed. Both are steps forward, I believe, but I’ve been learning what real “growing up” is. Money has taken on a whole new meaning to me. Trying to earn it, trying to save it, trying to use it wisely. A lot of unexpected expenses have come up for my family recently as well, which we have been trying to navigate carefully and wisely.
So when I read this verse, it struck me how odd I would look at someone who tells me to come and buy something for which I have no money. (As I often do when people extend invitations to me for events which I cannot afford. “What part of broke do you not understand?”)
It’s not that the verse says, “Come and take this free gift;” it says, “Come and BUY what you can’t afford.” This of course begs the question, “HOW?”
The first correlation that comes to mind is credit, such as that of those fortunate people who use credit cards for which other people pay. It costs them nothing, but costs someone else whatever they spend. A concept not unlike that of the Cross.
It seems the only requirement for payment in this verse is need, or not even that, but desire. If you’re thirsty, drink; if hungry, eat. Buy tasty, nourishing things. If you notice, wine and milk are listed: two historical symbols of blessing. Wine came from bountiful vineyards, milk from healthy herds, both of which symbolized prosperity and divine blessing.
But how can you afford prosperity and blessing? Who has ever purchased those things? Sure, you can attain certain levels of prosperity through hard work and wise decisions, but many people work hard their whole lives and never become prosperous; some even make very responsible choices and still fall behind.
So what is left for us to think then? How do we BUY what we cannot afford?
I’m not sure that I have the answer yet. I could give a Christianese answer and say that we buy with our hearts, or with our righteous living, or with our prayers. But I feel like that isn’t really going deep enough. A Jeremiah Bowser song that I love asks, “What can I give to the One Who has everything? What I can I give to the Creator of all? I give to You my heart.” I think that’s getting close.
Maybe I’m being too philosophical. Maybe the answer is that simple and we purchase “the richest of fare” (see verse 2) by offering to the Vendor the one thing that He desires.
But I’m always inclined to ask, should I be offering my heart out of a desire to receive, or out of the knowledge that it is the right thing, because the Recipient is deserving of it? What are my motives?
Is it really the fare I’m desiring, or am I longing just for the moment when I can come into contact with its Provider and see Him smile as He extends His full and open hands and says, “Here; eat, drink, and be satisfied”?