Thursday, April 16, 2009

Judah and Megan

As I study Isaiah, I am astounded at the parallels between my life and the condition of this chosen nation of Judah. God made great promises to His people through His covenant with Abraham. He would make them a great nation. He told them that He would bless the nation so that they would be a blessing. His favor would rise upon the Hebrew nation. God said He would make the nation great if they worshiped Him and sought Him in obedience and if they did not create their own gods and bow down to them.

Fast forward to Isaiah, a little over a thousand years later, after the nation of Judah has broken the covenant with the Lord. Still God’s chosen nation, Judah has fallen. After a series of wicked and disobedient kings, Judah finds herself in danger of attack from other nations. The Lord in His mercy holds out one more opportunity for Judah to be obedient when He says to King Ahaz through His prophet Isaiah, “Ask for a sign from Me. I will show up.” Ahaz, in his arrogance says to God that He will not ask for a sign, but instead, he develops an alliance with Assyria. The nation falls because it has relied on its own understanding and strength rather that God’s promises. God uses various wicked nations to “smite” Judah and bring her down. He ravages His chosen nation, bringing it to its skinned and broken knees. The other nations of Babylon, Syria, Moab, and Ethiopia trample all over Judah. Judah’s high places where she has worshipped other gods are brought down. Her self-made walls are dashed to pieces. Her houses are demolished. Her palaces are made to ruins. Her cities are deserted, and her people are dispersed to various corners of the world. Is it the end for Judah? She deserves to be ended. She failed to honor the Lord. She sought other gods. She made alliances with other nations. She grew more and more prideful and corrupt. Other nations grew and gained power over her. Her people became prisoners of war. They became victims of the enemies. But God allowed these enemies to overpower her because He had a greater purpose. Only through her downfall would she be able to see that God is God over all. God was God over the nations who sought to destroy Judah. All that happened to her passed through His hands. How could God allow such destruction and desolation? Because He knew that only through this breaking would His beloved nation see His power and return to Him.

The God of the universe brought the evil nations down. The nations that he used to humble Judah would be destroyed. Babylon would be utterly cast down. The Medes, who had no pity, would be dashed and demolished. God was in control the entire time, even when it seemed that He had turned His back. Isaiah mourned at the destruction of his people, reflecting God’s own grief. God brought a rod to bring about healing. There was great hope and promise in this destruction. He would destroy every ounce of self-reliance so that His nation would come to a place of total dependence on Himself.

Peering into the future, Isaiah sees an incredible promise. In Isaiah 26, which is an apocalyptic vision, he says with great victory and hope that God has ordained peace from this chaos. He says that “the former tyrant masters are dead, they shall not live and reappear; they are powerless ghosts, they shall not rise and come back. Therefore, You have visited and made an end of them and caused every trace of their supremacy and memory of them vanish and perish.”

Hallelujah! What a promise! I have been Judah. I am God’s daughter, His beloved, who raised up idols and sought to worship false gods. I stepped into captivity willfully in my rebellion and deception. I have been ravished by the enemies. I have been almost destroyed, stricken, and brought to my knees. I have cried out for death in the pain of my self-made devastation. God wept. He anguished. But He allowed it, because in His total omniscience, He knew that He would restore when I was broken.

He has destroyed my enemies. Every trace of their supremacy has dissolved into total worship of my risen King. This vision of the future found in Isaiah 26 reveals ribbons of hope for my present situation. He has called my name. I will rise from the ashes. He has delivered me from my masters and tyrants. They have no more power, just as the oppressive nations will have no more power over Judah. God is Lord of all. He always has been even when I wasn’t aware, when I couldn’t see beyond my prison walls. He brings the oppressors to dust and He establishes His strong city.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Rock of Ages

It has been heavily impressed upon my heart in recent weeks and months that we may not be long here. The economy is unstable. Our foundation as a country is shaken. Our health is questionable. Natural disasters are unpredictable. We are sitting ducks in many senses, but in the most vital sense, we are secure and at peace. Our “Rock of Ages”, Jehovah, the all-eternal Lord, is still Lord today. He is the fount of every blessing. He is our firm foundation. He is the cornerstone of our faith. He is our compass. All of these terms are very cliché-ish until they become real for us. What better opportunity for them to become real than in times of intense testing and trial? When all is stripped away, we see that He is all we need. No one can take Him away.

I am reminded by Paul in Romans 8: 38 that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, nor things impending nor threatening, nor yet to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

God forbid it, but if this nation falls to pieces, if a horrible regime were to take power, if our mighty dollar loses all of its value, we have a treasure that is kept safe and sound in Christ Jesus. NO ONE can take away my Jesus. They may take my money, my house, my food, my books, my Bible, even my life, but they cannot take away the one thing that is ultimately the foundation of my existence. They cannot take away the love that is mine in Christ Jesus my Lord.

If I live, I live for Him. If I die, I die for Him. Whatever may happen, my life is hidden in Him. The enemy cannot have me. He never will. My portion is the Lord, and I do not lack or want for anything.

We crave luxury, comfort, and ease. We feel entitled to “privileges” that seem intrinsic to our society of affluence. But truly, what do we really need? Where is my treasure? Is my treasure found in something that can be taken away? If it is, then I am forever doomed to be riddled with fear and anxiety. Or is my treasure found in my Lord, who is mine, forever? This is the state of perfect peace that He promises.

Isaiah 26 says that the Lord will keep him in perfect and constant peace whose mind is stayed on Him, because he leans on Him. I am challenged to ask myself, “on whom or what am I leaning?” Am I leaning on something that is in danger of falling? If so, I am unstable. Or am I leaning on a solid Rock, which has never before and will never be moved? What is consistent through the Bible? Nations rise, fall, rise again, and are demolished. People come into power and loose power, are renowned one day and defamed the next. Buildings are erected and then obliterated. The Titanic sunk. The Tower of Babel was vanity. Starbucks faces cut-backs. Great companies are brought low. Stocks crash. Once -stable jobs are mere shadows. Houses are being taken. 401k’s are no more. Retirement plans are destroyed. Sickness takes over. But the Rock of Ages stays solid, true, and faithful. I am so glad to be standing on Him.

All that we have is from Him, and He can take it all in an instant. Praise the Lord for His blessings, but never forget that His presence is all that is vital. The perfect peace is found in the direction of our gaze and the leaning of our souls.

Sunday, April 12, 2009


Your purposes cannot be trumped.
Your plans can only prevail.
In these shadowlands, we may feel solid,
But we are but mere vapors.
Your Word, it is eternal.
Your promises will stand.
This mirage of time will shatter,
Revealing the eternal now.
Where your name echoes from every lip,
All nations, broken, bow.
No man-erected structure remains.
Only You.
Only worship.
Only now.

Monday, April 6, 2009

Spring Cleaning of the Soul

Over the past year, I have become afflicted with a new condition. I have become a neat-freak. I have never been compelled to clean before the way that I am bound now. Mercy instilled these standards in my psyche for cleaning. The scrupulosity with which the staff inspected our cleaning was unprecedented. Who knew that baseboards, window frames, and grout were so dirty?? I never did. I am sure those who are active in cleaning services are aware of the intricacies of dirt, but I have always been blissfully ignorant of these details. Well, now that I know, I cannot just overlook them. I am not super OCD about them, but they can take up a bit too much of my awareness at times. I cannot ever leave dirty dishes in the sink. Nor can I bear to see any dust build up at work without immediately finding a dust rag. Smudges on windows must be exterminated as soon as I see them. Any build up of dirt on door frames is too much for me to put up with. To the amateur cleaner, a room may look decent, but to a more seasoned cleaner, it is evident that extensive scouring is necessary. It is indeed an affliction. I am so thankful that Mercy allowed me to walk in freedom from other places of bondage, but this new obsession is somewhat annoying. I am mostly kidding about this new scrupulosity being an affliction. I am thankful for this heightened awareness….by and large.

I have recently found that this awareness parallels much of my spiritual growth. As I grow closer to the Lord, He reveals little baseboards in my life that need more attention. He shows filthy areas that I never noticed before. To the naked eye, it may seem like it is a somewhat clean life, but God’s mirror of His Word reveals deeper dirt that He wants to scrub out of my life. It would be a daunting task if I were to attack it in my own power. I see little attitudes that creep in. I see places of carnal pride that pervade my thoughts. I see old new insecurities creeping in that I never before recognized as insecurities. I am disgusted at areas where I seek to be seen rather than let Christ be seen in me. I see the flesh more clearly than I ever have, and I cry, “Woe is me, I am ruined, for I am a woman of unclean lips, and I dwell amongst a people of unclean lips.”

I think this awareness is vital for the ministry that God has called us to. I am only beginning my journey, and I know that this is still somewhat “surface” that God is still scrubbing. It hurts.
Some people may be reading saying, “man, I see so much yuck in her. She isn’t in the intricacies. She still has much to work to do on surface levels.” You are certainly right. I have TONS of work to do, but praise the Lord that He has brought me to a place of awareness. It does not lead to shame but to power. This power arises out of the Spirit living in me. I am not intimidated because I do not struggle in my own power, but with the Power that is alive and active in my Spirit. This is possibly the difference between my cleanliness obsession at Starbucks and my soul-oriented spring cleaning. It is painful---the process of being pruned and purified, but it is so worth it. And God is gentle as He wrecks me. I know that sounds like a paradox, but it is not. God is a God of loving-kindness who purifies because of His love for me.

He is going through a process of spring cleaning of my soul, and the freshness of His cleaning is an aroma that stirs my heart and soul to sing His praises. I pray that His aroma daily arises more and more through my life.