Friday, July 6, 2012

Isaiah in My Heart

So . . . My sweet Mag-Mag (otherwise know as the uh-mazing Maggie) was over visiting the other day. And she mentions that I haven't written a theology-type post in awhile. All I can say is "I know."

I keep starting blogposts. And then deleting them. Starting again another day. And deleting again.

It doesn't mean that Jesus isn't at work in my heart. Oh, trust me, He is. I'm just having trouble articulating the ways He's pushing me, and teaching me, and the things He is showing me.

I will say that in the past month or so, God has proven to me (again) that He is going to show up in His Word. That He is going to use His Word to speak directly to my heart. In pointed ways. That bring Life. and Hope. and Comfort. and Peace. In ways that are so direct, that it takes my breath away.

Oh, I doubt myself at times. I think, "No way. This has to be coincidence. There is no way that these ancient words could really speak so directly to my life situation." But, I know that God's Word says that His Word is alive and active in me. (Thank you, Beth Moore) So, in faith, I attribute it to Him. Moving forward in faith, trusting that it is Him directing what I read and when I read it, and that His Holy Spirit is using it to shape and change my heart.

In God's sovereignty, I was in the BSF study of Isaiah during a trying and troubling time in 2010-2011. And God met me in the book of Isaiah. Every.Single.Day. In my personal study, in my weekly discussion group, and in the weekly lectures and notes. He just kept using Isaiah's ancient words to speak healing to my modern 2012 heart. The heart of a girl who felt like a mess. Who was struggling with issues. And hurts. And depression.

God was using His Word, spoken through Isaiah, to shout at me from the heavens:

"I'm here!" "I haven't left you!" "I will take your ashes and create beauty." "Don't be afraid, I am really with you!" "I will make water flow in your desert, your desert will blossom as a rose." "I am YOUR God!" 

More than once I have wished that I could just hug that prophet. Say thank you to Isaiah's face for his faithfulness to deliver God's words to His people, even in the face of persecution and mocking. Seriously. I would love to tell him the ways that the words he recorded have ministered to me today. I'll have my chance in Heaven, right?

Struggle for me looks different today then it did just one or two years ago.  But, one thing is the same: God has been using Isaiah's book in my life again. Daily.

Isaiah has a place in my heart that no other book in the Bible holds. Knowing that fact, Eric got me a book for Christmas called Isaiah by the Day by Alec Motyer. Motyer is a Bible scholar who has the same passion for Isaiah that I do. (Well, okay, his passion probably outweighs mine, considering he has devoted much of his life to it). The book is Motyer's translation of Isaiah, based on his extensive study and keeping as near to the Hebrew as possible. The scripture is divided into daily portions with tons of notes, followed by a devotion for each day.  I so badly wanted time to dig into it. But there it sat, on my bookshelf, for six months.

Then last month I took it off the shelf. And opened it up. I've been spending my time in the Word with this book as well as the corresponding passages of Isaiah in my good ole ESV.

And God keeps showing up. And it motivates me to keep digging in.  The Lord is using the book of Isaiah to keep me coming back for more.

When I feel frustrated with myself and my sinful nature God says:
Do not fear, Worm Jacob,
mere mortals of Israel. 
I have, myself, determined to help you --
and your redeemer is the Holy One of Israel. (Isaiah 41:14)

Notice that God doesn't say that He will help the perfect people, those who are not struggling with sin, those who have it all together. He is talking to the Worm Jacob and mere mortals of Israel. And in reading that, I have confidence that means He is going to help me.

When I feel like my life, my priorities, the things I do are being judged critically by some around me, He gives me this:
As for me, I said, 
'For emptiness I have toiled;
without sense or substance I have exhausted my strength. 
my judgment is with Yahweh, 
and my achievement is with my God.' (Isaiah 49:4)

God uses His Word to remind me that even if I think I've failed, even if my efforts feel like they lack any purpose, that some people don't see my efforts or understand my heart, He is still "my God." And I can let Him, and Him alone, be the judge of my life. As Motyer says, "He is sovereign in the accomplishing of his own will. Whatever he desired from my unworthy efforts, he will himself unfailingly achieve, and even turn disaster to triumph, bringing his good pleasure out of and in spite of my disasters." Praise Jesus for the freedom to serve Him, and Him alone, and to trust Him with the outcome.

And when I'm feeling like a situation might be hopeless, God says that He will take action and then
"you will know that I am Yahweh: 
those waiting confidently for me will not be disappointed." (Isaiah 49:23)

His words are what I cling to. Isaiah says that we can trust God. We can cling to His promises - waiting confidently, which also means with expectation. Expectation that He is going to show up. It gives me hope, and keeps me from despondency or depression. How can I head toward dark despondency over a situation when I know that I can wait for Him and that I will not be disappointed?!

So. . . that's some of where I've been lately in my heart. In the living of daily life. In the midst of daily chores, bike rides, tickle wars, laundry, swimming, eating ice cream, washing dishes, vacation, fireworks, more laundry, schoolwork with the kids, vacuuming, play-doh, running (okay, not so much), grocery shopping, making cookies, hanging out with friends, art projects, and just being. Nothing profound. But I wanted to record that God showed up when I needed Him. In breathtaking ways. And continues to call me to Himself.


Anonymous said...

When we seek Him, we will find him! I am so proud of the ways in which you continue to seek God. If only we all could learn to find our identity as His precious daughters and fully comprehend on a daily basis how He loves us....unconditionally, always and forever.
Continue to hang in there and seek will not regret it! You are His beautiful daughter! Don't ever let anyone take that away from you!

Love and prayers,
Janice P

Kyle said...

you are dead on! i love how his word speaks into different areas of our lives, i many different seasons, and still applies and gives life to dry bones!

and you're right...though many don't understand, he's still your God and he's the one you need to worry about. the other stuff will fade away.

p.s. the black dress is from target, in the maternity section. it's THE BEST dress ever. i'm 5'9" and it skims the floor and is the softest material ever. love love.

Jocelyn said...

Janice - As ALWAYS - I so appreciate the encouragement of my seeking the Lord and my writing. Hugs to you!

Kyle - thank you for your encouragement and for the wisdom that all else will fade away. And thank you for the dress tip! I'm tempted to buy it and put it in my maternity clothes collection for later use :)