As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty.
The basic idea behind ecology is that everything is connected to everything else. We can think of God as the first ecologist because He created our world – and us – to be connected and interdependent. This passage from Isaiah describes one of the cycles of nature, how one of his gifts plays a role in the success of the next.
As God’s people, we need each other. He made us to live in community. In Ecclesiastes 4, he tells us, “Two are better than one…for if they fall, one will lift up his companion…and a three-fold cord is not easily broken.”
In community, we both give and receive help from each other. But it’s not a tidy, linear process. We help someone; someone different helps us. We often don’t know where an act of grace on our part ends up having an impact and that’s okay. When we urge someone to “pay it forward,” rather than return a kindness to us, we’re trusting that God will use that future action to further His kingdom.
Most of us are better givers than we are receivers. On some level, we may not want to feel in debt to someone who helps us. But we give a gift and it is an act of grace to receive with thanks what another offers to us. In this way we acknowledge our interdependence and strengthen the bonds between us.
When we help others, when we accept help graciously, the word of God does not return to Him empty.
God of everything, thank you – thank you that we need each other, that by your grace we are a gift to each other. Amen.
Written by Cheryl Stubbendieck
Cheryl Stubbendieck is a member of Sheridan’s Devotion Writing Team. She and her husband Jim live near Sheridan. Their family includes their son Aaron and his wife Chaitra of San Francisco, CA and their son Reed of Madison, WI. Cheryl was the public relations department head for Nebraska Farm Bureau before retiring in 2012. She spent the next four years as the volunteer manager of Barnabas Community and now helps to manage the OneSent Market.