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Isaiah's Vineyard Song


As a parent and a foster parent I have put countless hours into loving and teaching my children to do well.  I have worked tirelessly to keep them safe and happy.  I have stayed up into the wee hours of the night nursing them back to health, crying over their hurts, and worrying about their safety and future.  Despite these efforts, they don't always do well. 

One of my kids was brilliant and quirky.  High School was easy for him and he wanted to be an engineer.  He had the skills and the ability, but I encouraged him to start at a local community college and then transfer to his engineering school of choice.  Partly I was worried about him going into debt, but I also worried about how he would do with the challenge of college without friends or family near.  Since school had been easy for him, he was not ready for a real challenge without support.  I knew he would need help to keep his motivation up during the first year of college.  College is a whole different challenge.  It is harder, and the brilliant find themselves among the average.  Those that lack the drive to push through, find themselves left behind.  He was proud and went straight to his college of choice despite my advice. 

We supported his decision, he was an adult and it was time for him to make his own choices.  He found school brutally difficult.  As we suspected he lacked the drive to do the work on his own because he was used to getting by with minimal effort.  He lacked family or social support and he became lonely and isolated.  As low grades came in he started to have a negative internal dialogue.  After the first semester he left his choice school and enrolled at a community college.  A wise choice in some ways, but his confidence was shot and he no longer believed in himself.  Our words of encouragement fell on deaf ears.  Instead of working on core classes with the intention of transferring, he decided to get a technical degree to work on CNC machines.

Don't get me wrong, this is an honorable degree that he should be proud of, but he sold himself short because life was more difficult than expected.  We still hope he will return to college and follow his dream of becoming an engineer.  I know he can do it!

This week's lectionary reading is from Isaiah 5:1-7 & 11:1-5.  In the first section Isaiah sings a song from God's perspective.  God has cared for the vineyard in every way that He can.  The vineyard is the nation of Israel, the people of God.  God has led them out of Egypt.  He has taught them how to live.  He has built them up.  He has cared for their wounds and supported them.  He has loved them and parented them, but just like with our children, they don't always do well.  Instead of bearing grapes, the vineyard has produced wild grapes.  What is God to do?  The song goes on to point out that normally in such a situation you would destroy the vineyard and start over.  But, in the case of this Vineyard, God loves the people of Israel,  God loves his children.  In chapter 11 we find out that God has another plan. 

Instead of destroying the vineyard, God will wait for a vine that grows good fruit, and that will become the vine that will be lifted up.  From that vine will come great abundance and the people of God will be grafted onto that vine.  This is a prophecy of Jesus and the fruit of the Christ found in his followers. Thank God that his ways are different than ours.  May we remember, as we struggle with our own children's choices, the patience that God had with his people! 

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