Isaiah’s promises seem extravagant, don’t they? If we look at them literally, they are quite marvelous. God will permanently alter the Holy Land itself. If we read these verses spiritually, the promises become even more inspiring: God is promising to alter us at the very center of our hearts. For all the generosity he has shown us, God still asks us to come and receive his grace. He still asks us to settle ourselves in his presence so that he can fill us up.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux, a twelfth-century monk from France, explained it this way:
The man who is wise . . . will see his life as more like a reservoir than a canal. The canal simultaneously pours out what it receives; the reservoir retains the water until it is filled, then discharges the overflow without loss to itself. . . . You too must learn to await this fullness before pouring out your gifts. God never intended us to be a “canal,” always giving away whatever we receive. No, he wants to take care of us—day after day. He knows that if we can learn to be like “reservoirs,” not only will we become more joyful and peaceful, but we will also become more effective in caring for the people around us.
We pour ourselves out every day: for our children, for our aging parents and for our co-workers. But if we spend all of our time taking care of everyone else, we’ll end up physically exhausted and spiritually depleted.
There’s nothing wrong with taking five minutes each day to soak up the love and mercy of God. There’s nothing wrong with becoming a reservoir instead of a canal. God’s extravagant promises are for you just as much as they are for everyone else.
“Here I am, Lord. Come and fill me up!”