Reflection April 8

 

‘Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. 

Behold, I am doing a new thing;

now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?

I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.

The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches,

for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert,

to give drink to my chosen people, he people whom I formed for myself

that they might declare my praise.’

 Isaiah 43:18-21

I am a fearful person. Recently, I found myself in a season of nightly waiting to fall asleep while also convinced that there was a reason to be scared. I listened intently for rodents running on the ductwork and scratching in the walls or potential intruders in other areas of the house. One night, as I was waiting and wanting to fall asleep, I instead fell back into the habit of worrying and fearing. My heart rate picked up and my thoughts and emotions felt out of my control and I remember thinking, I’m so tired and tired of feeling controlled by my fear. This was not a holy lament; it was more of a lame complaint. But, God graciously spoke to me. He gently said, “You don’t have to do this. You don’t have to get worked up and worried. What would that help anyway? Choose peace. Choose to hope instead.” This sounds melodramatic, but this was a moment when it felt as though the waters parted for me. The next step in the path ahead became clear. The beautiful thing is that his word provided the freedom as well as the power to set my fear and worry down and rest. This was not just coming to a logical understanding of my mental/emotional state. God made a way, releasing from fear in that moment. And, what is more, he gave me an Ebenezer and a practice or spiritual discipline—a next step—through those thoughts and emotions when they arise again.

 In Isaiah, God promises his people a way forward. Like an anchor, Isaiah 43 holds us fast to the truth of who God is—the Holy One of Israel, our Savior—and who we are—created, known, and loved by him, as he knew and loved Israel. 

 When God seems to say in verse 18, “forget the past,” I think his meaning is actually along the lines of: “The Lord always has greater things in store; he is revealed in the past, but he is always more than the past revealed,” (Isaiah, J. Alec Motyer, 306).

 Sure enough, his announcement to Israel is something we can claim as gospel:

            “Behold, I am doing a new thing;  now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” (vs. 19)

 That question, “Do you not perceive it?” is rhetorically loaded. It’s like a breath of fresh air, offering a pause and the challenge to see. It’s a slap in the face to help us wake up and ask: am I blind and deaf to God’s work and word? It’s a sweet, endearing invitation to open up our senses, heart, and mind to God’s work in and around us. 

 God makes a way where there is no way. He invites us to see evidence of hope fulfilled right here where we are—even in the desert and wilderness. 

 Given the beauty of prophecy, we get to load all of time into God’s promise here to Israel. He made a way for Israel to survive through time and history, he sent Jesus as the ultimate Way back to himself, and he makes a way forward for us as his church—both as a body of believers and in our individual lives.

 Rather than stopping with the promise, he goes so far as to say why he does all of this for us, “that they might declare my praise.” It is for our own good! He makes the way for us to get to be fully human, living into who he made us to be: his creation that glorifies him and enjoys him forever. 

 He is inviting us to see him at work around us, to ask: where and how are you at work right here and right now, God? …and to praise him as we walk his way. 

Connie Bolger

 

“Come to Me” by Sandra McCracken on “The Kingdom of Heaven is Like This” album by Rain for Roots

Come to me. Walk with me. 

Learn the rhythms of my grace.

Come to me. I have all you need.

Learn to rest even while you are awake.

Are you tired?

Are you worried? 

Worn out from the day?

Have you been in a hurry? 

I will slow the pace. 

Come to me. Walk with me. 

Learn the rhythms of my grace. 

Come to me. I have all you need. 

Learn to rest even while you are awake.

 

 

 

Harvest