In the course of listening through the Bible in a year, thanks to the Daily Audio Bible, one will come eventually to a romp through the book of Isaiah.
(Truthfully, we’re nowhere near that book now… These writey-bloggy-thingies sometimes sit and bake for a month or two or six before they see the light of day…)
You know, I’m not sure if anybody has ever used the phrase “romping through the book of Isaiah.” Most people wouldn’t use the word “romp” to describe a trip through any book of the Bible.
(But, as all the world knows, I ain’t “most people.” Nor “some people.” I are a “people,” but that’s about it.
“I yam what I yam and that’s all that I yam.” *toot toot*
Now hand me that can opener – I gots me some spinach to eat.)
So – romping through the Bible. Not usually thought of as a “romp.”
Though… there IS the Song of Songs…
Never mind. Not gonna go there. Nope.
Anyway, some verses from Isaiah 30 caught my attention:
GOD, the Master, The Holy of Israel, has this solemn counsel: “Your salvation requires you to turn back to me and stop your silly efforts to save yourselves. Your strength will come from settling down in complete dependence on me— The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.
Isaiah 30:15 (MSG)
Usually when something like this catches my attention, the Lord is having a word with me. In this instance, the phrases “turn back to Me,” “settling down in complete dependence,” and, the one that really hits me – “The very thing you’ve been unwilling to do.”
Ok – I’m finally getting the “settling down” part. I’ve learned that my life works a whole lot better at a slower, mindful pace. If I don’t take the time to stop, to contemplate, to mindfully approach every day, then I get lost in many ways.
Settle down in complete dependence?
Nah – I’d rather squirm and cry and weep and moan and smack my hand against a wall – all of which are really, really bad for my emotional balance.
“A troubled mind and a doubter’s heart.
You wonder how you ever got this far.
Just leave it to Me – I’ll lead you home.”
– Michael W. Smith
So, “settle down” = very good. “In complete dependence” = very good, though I’m not even close yet.
Settle down in complete dependence? I know that it’s good – in fact, the best way to go about living… And yet, it’s “the very thing I’ve been unwilling to do.”
How stubborn am I? How unwilling can I be? Read on, kids…
You’ve said, ‘Nothing doing! We’ll rush off on horseback!’ You’ll rush off, all right! Just not far enough! You’ve said, ‘We’ll ride off on fast horses!’ Do you think your pursuers ride old nags? Think again: A thousand of you will scatter before one attacker. Before a mere five you’ll all run off. There’ll be nothing left of you— a flagpole on a hill with no flag, a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off.”
Isaiah 30:16-17 (MSG)
Yup – very stubborn. Slow to learn, slow to listen, slow to trust.
What do you think of those last two pictures – “A flagpole on a hill with no flag, a signpost on a roadside with the sign torn off?”
Oi to da Vey…
What do I think of those last two pictures?
I don’t like them. Not at all.
They scream futility to me – as the Teacher would put it, “a chasing of the wind.” All of my running, all of my flailing, and all of my refusal to just settle down and depend is pointless, useless, and a waste. It leaves behind an empty flagpole and a signless sign.
If it ended here, if this were the last word, the door slamming, then hope would be gone, and I’d be lost.
As God, who is rich in love and mercy, does so often, He holds out hope. Emptiness doesn’t have to be the final word…
Oh yes, people of Zion, citizens of Jerusalem, your time of tears is over. Cry for help and you’ll find it’s grace and more grace. The moment he hears, he’ll answer. Just as the Master kept you alive during the hard times, he’ll keep your teacher alive and present among you. Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right: “This is the right road. Walk down this road.” You’ll scrap your expensive and fashionable god-images. You’ll throw them in the trash as so much garbage, saying, “Good riddance!”
Isaiah 30:19-22 (MSG)
I probably should break those verses into chunks, to allow us all to take them in piece by piece… But I just can’t. There’s such a wall of amazing there that I just can’t bring myself to split it up.
Tears are over, grace is abundant, and the Master is keeping us safe, guiding us and helping us – “Your teacher will be right there, local and on the job, urging you on whenever you wander left or right.”
Awesome upon awesome upon awesome.
And, in a quote from a DC Talk song (“Jesus Is Still Alright”), “Now we come to the payoff.” –
Our response to all of this…
In the light of all this wonder, we look at all the garbage we’ve surrounded ourselves with – all of our toys, doo-dads, stuff to impress, attitudes, assumptions – any and all of the crap we make into a cheap blanket fort, trying to keep the Master from getting too close.
Get the picture? No? Ok – work with me here, kids…
Imagine every little corner of your world – external AND internal – suddenly being thrown into the full and glorious light of God’s reality, letting you see just exactly what you’ve accepted as “real” life… Take a look at all that refuse, see how small your reality is, and before the shock and shame can overwhelm you, know that the Master is already wiping away the tears of His little child and taking you into His arms.
And we respond in the only way possible when confronted with the loving, intimate presence of God our Father:
We immediately throw all our idols, all our junk, all our stuff that was trying to take His place (and failing miserably…) in the dumpster.
When the light of the Master fills your eyes, everything else can be seen for what it really is – trash. Nothing else compares. Absofragginlutely nothing.
“So let it go and turn it over to
The One who chose to give His life for you.
Just leave it to Me – I’ll lead you home.”
– Michael w. Smith