We are happy to welcome ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country and overseas to write in June of 2020 for The Park Forum. Each of them is pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.

Today’s student writer is Leah Jarvis, a student at Abilene Christian University.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 44:9-11
All who make idols are nothing,
    and the things they treasure are worthless.
Those who would speak up for them are blind;
    they are ignorant, to their own shame.
Who shapes a god and casts an idol,
    which can profit nothing?
People who do that will be put to shame;
    such craftsmen are only human beings.
Let them all come together and take their stand;
    they will be brought down to terror and shame.

Reflection: All I Want
By Leah Jarvis

What do you want?

It’s a simple question, really. A waiter asks this of customers at a restaurant. Santa Claus asks little kids this at Christmas. But when it comes to asking ourselves this question, most often we ask it in light of larger concerns than just ordering pasta.

What do I want my career to look like? What do I want in a spouse? What do I want to be known for?

These are all huge, defining desires that shape who we are. Our wants have weight. They’re not bad by nature. The discipline of holding ourselves to long-term goals can be a good thing.

Isaiah explores desires through the narrative of two craftsmen. These men work in service of an idol, realizing at their conclusion that they have essentially made nothing, and that their very lives are built on serving something that will never see or know them. Their reward is empty, tasteless, dead.

Though their idols are physical, ours are more abstract. We carve stone images of what we want, only to turn around and find that what once seemed to matter has melted away like wet clay in the rain. The passage echoes Jesus’s words about the cost of following him (Luke 14.27) and his later warning to the rich man who cannot let go of his wealth (Luke 18.23-25). Not only is this a reminder that we must be willing to set aside our greatest desires, but that an attempt to hold onto them brings only sorrow when they inevitably disappoint us.

These sobering verses don’t exactly tug on the heartstrings and can feel accusatory. The point, however, is not to guilt-trip us into “doing better.” God’s plea reminds us to open our hands. “Do not be afraid, little flock, for your Father has been pleased to give you the kingdom.” (Luke 12.31)

This could not be further from ashes. What we find when we remember our place in God’s kingdom outweighs every goal, every success, every earthly reward. It secures us as victorious, joyful sons and daughters, filled with glorious purpose.

May we love and serve God and one another—our many scattered desires set aside in favor of the One.

Divine Hours Prayer: The Request for Presence
Satisfy us by your loving-kindness in the morning; so shall we rejoice and be glad all the days of our life. — Psalm 90.14

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 44 (Listen – 5:12) 
Revelation 14 (Listen – 3:51)

This Weekend’s Readings
Isaiah 45 (Listen – 4:39) Revelation 15 (Listen – 1:29)
Isaiah 46 (Listen – 2:12) Revelation 16 (Listen – 3:17)

Read more about To Whom We Draw Near
We are called to have a single love and to be faithful to God alone, satisfying ourselves in God and clinging to him to the exclusion of all others.

Read more about Prayer and Faith
Do we feel that God is distant from us? It is we who have moved. Draw near in prayer.