We had a sermon on Isaiah 43 tonight, and it got me thinking more about that lovely chapter. Here are some things I’ve been thinking about.
Vs. 1b: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine.” To be told not to fear is a wonderful thing in itself. I do fear. I fear a lot. And I shouldn’t because God has called me by my name and said I am His. He takes care of His own.
Parts of vs. 2: “…they shall not overwhelm you… the flame shall not consume you.” Wow. So when I feel overwhelmed and consumed, it’s really just a wave or a flame that’s touching me while I am in the very safe grip of God.
Vs. 4a: “Because you are precious in my eyes, and honored, and I love you.” It reminds me of that hymn, “Jesus, Lover of my Soul.” Just when I think I am unloved, I am proven wrong. And actually, when one person unloves you and dishonors you, that’s when you begin to realize how many others really do love you.
Vs. 13b: “I work, and who can turn it back?” That’s so reassuring. God is at work, and all the sanctification He works in me and others cannot be turned back or dismissed or reversed with lies by anyone.
Vs. 26: “Put me in remembrance; let us argue together; set forth your case, that you may be proved right.” Ha, I’m not exactly sure what that means, and I’ll probably check my study Bible later, but right now I’m thinking, hey, this is an invitation to communicate with God and to claim the promises He has given in His word. I’m not a big fan of arguing, but reminding God of Himself seems like a thing I can do.
But Jacob said, “I will not let you go unless you bless me.” Genesis 32:26b
I’ve heard a lot of things said about this passage, and certainly there’s something there. A wrestle with God. At night. A demand for a blessing. A name-change. A blessing granted.
It’s very strange. What would it look like for me to wrestle with God? My thoughts tumbling against words of Scripture. My personal prayers punching through the devout holiness of a church service. My depression spiraling holes through the hope and joy God has always provided.
Or is this wrestling with God only something that happens before the blessing of justification, the beginning of sanctification? Maybe fighting with God now is just rebellion. Or getting out of bounds.
I’m back to my post now after helping herd large calves back into their pen. Good thing there was a full moon. They were on the road and had strayed a long way. They had been eating grass for awhile and were not in the mood to move, which tried my husband’s patience to no end (that was a direct quote). So maybe God also likes it better when we’re feisty and willing to move. Maybe He’s more likely to bless us then, even if we’re not exactly where we belong, and we need a lot of herding. Moral of the story: don’t get fat on the neighbor’s forbidden grass when there’s a pile of nutritious corn silage dumped right into your pen. Another moral: if you do find yourself out of the pen, get up and cross a road a few times, moo really loud (i.e. let God know that you know where you are). God doesn’t want you out of the pen, and He won’t ignore you.
On a really tough day that has been part of a really tough few weeks, I’m finally doing something to get closer to the One who can actually solve my problems. I’m beginning a Scripture Journal, which you may follow if you desire, but it’s mostly for me. WordPress is acting as my accountability partner here. I’m looking at a Bible verse (or passage) a day and journaling about it. I aim to do it for a month.
My site is: http://amykrohnscripturejournal.wordpress.com/
Here is a small portion of the Bible that I never read before with the intention of getting personal meaning from it:
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Here’s what I learned on Sunday: We are in the era of Satan’s collapse. The kingdom of God is advancing. Christians overcome their enemies by the blood of the Lamb and the word of their testimony. Preaching the word is a humbling exercise: treading on serpents and scorpions (wouldn’t we rather be saving endangered sea turtles or discovering new birds in the rainforest?). Serpents and scorpions are venomous; however, Jesus already delivered the head-blow to the serpent. Satan is rendered harmless. What we experience is the wrath of angry Satan because he couldn’t take down the Lamb he wanted. Even if the enemy gets our dead bodies, it doesn’t get us. God is in control, and He has no intention of losing His people to the enemy. Be comforted in belonging to a faithful Savior.
I am in many things, or at least I will be soon. I am in search of children’s books related to the different countries my homeschool co-op class will study. I am in a really good book about Charlotte Mason and the classical tradition called Consider This by Karen Glass (more about this on a future date). I am soon to be in my church’s ladies’ Bible study. I have a new Common Book where I will spend time writing down great quotes. The children and I have been drawing and writing in our new nature journals. And, of course, I am in our homeschool, reading lots of great literature to my kids. I am even in the children’s Sunday School as a teacher this year (a new adventure for me). My own personal reading has suffered this past week, but I still count that as a world I am in.
All these great things to be in, and I feel like I am not in the Word as much as I ought to be. However, looking at the list above, I realize that I am in worlds that put me in the Word. That counts. I’m sure it counts. I am going to be busy this fall, but some of my business involves studying and reflecting on the Bible. Not everyone can say that. I am thankful for the way God works that into my life.
After studying the book of Ecclesiastes, I spent a day shrugging my shoulders and sighing, “It’s all meaningless.” But really I did learn something about this strange book of the Bible. I learned that the Preacher (who may or may not be Solomon) was sometimes right and sometimes wrong, a realistic human being in a fallen world. I learned how difficult and confusing it must have been to live in Old Testament times, when God’s people lived without the benefit of the New Testament and the life of Christ. I even came up with an art analogy about the book of Ecclesiastes: in a picture of a Christian’s life, where Christ and the gospel message are the central figure, Ecclesiastes is the negative space. Perhaps that is why we hardly know how to study this book. It requires a different mind-set, seeing God’s Word from a strange perspective.
The ladies’ Bible study at my church met today. The ladies had done their homework, and the discussion was lively and deep. At one point, we were discussing Psalm 51:12, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit.” That is the ESV version. The NKJV reads a little differently. We read the last half as meaning the Lord has a willing spirit (as in attitude), the Lord’s Spirit is willing and generous, OR the psalmist (David) wants to have a willing spirit. We consulted the pastor because he can read the original Hebrew. We thought that he would give us a definitive answer. Come to find out… he couldn’t give us a definitive answer because it could be interpreted differently in the Hebrew as well.
So why am I mentioning this? I don’t think it really matters how I read Psalm 51:12. All of our variations hold truth. I do find it striking that we can dig so deep into one line of Scripture and never hit bottom. I can see how that might be frustrating at some point. But it is also amazing. God’s Word is so full of meaning and wisdom. There is no end to our learning. The Holy Spirit can open up door after door when we read the Bible, and there will still be more and more doors to open. I hope I remember this the next time I open the Bible and think “same old, same old…”