At the Helm

 

I love the little sparks. The nuggets of knowledge that make you want to learn more, to dig deeper, to ponder longer.

Am I the only one who is getting tired of things right now? Tired of looking at the news, tired of talking about current events, tired of waiting, tired of all the different opinions. Just tired.

Are you there too?

Maybe I am speaking to myself, but there is an ache in all of this. One that I didn’t realize was lingering beneath the surface.

Now I will come clean. Do you want to know why I have been tired? Passivity in regards to my relationship with the Lord has gotten a hold of me. Do I read the Word daily? Yes. Am I engaged with it? If I am being honest with you … no.

About two weeks ago I was in a place of nonchalance when it came to reading the Bible. I would get it done, check it off, say a prayer, and go about my day. It was there before me, but it didn’t really penetrate. Perhaps you can relate to this.

And then, I was sitting with my Bible study group. We have been getting together for a few years, just the three of us, and one of my friends says, “I am still in the woe is Israel portion of the book.”

She is reading Isaiah and working through it chapter by chapter. She gave us some of the pieces of what is happening and how it relates to this world, but I couldn’t get her phrasing out of my mind. “Woe is Israel.” She might as well have said, “Woe is our world.” That is how it feels constantly these days, doesn’t it?

Years ago my college small group leader told me Isaiah was like “a mini-Bible within the Bible.” 66 chapters for the 66 books. Mentioning this, I saw my friends nod along and then the spark of a thought came along—one that I had never had before.

“How many books are in the Old Testament?” I asked. I always forget the number. 39 books in the Old Testment—the New Testament starting at 40.

Pausing, we all looked at one another thinking the same thing. Together we turned to Isaiah 39 and 40 and simply stared—the spark ignited.

There in Chapter 39 were words of woe, words of prophecy for Israel for when they would be taken into exile. The threat of Babylon hovered—the theme the same, woe is Israel.

But, then…Chapter 40 changes everything. It breaks free, nearly shouting from the page that hope is here!

Comfort, comfort my people, says your God.
Speak tenderly to Jerusalem,
    and cry to her
that her warfare
is ended,
    that her iniquity is pardoned,
that she has received from the Lord’s hand
    double for all her sins.

A voice cries:
“In the wilderness prepare the way of the Lord;
    make straight in the desert a highway for our God.
 Every valley shall be lifted up,
    and every mountain and hill be made low;
the uneven ground shall become level,
    and the rough places a plain.
And the glory of the Lord shall be revealed,
    and all flesh shall see it together,
    for the mouth of the Lord has spoken.” – Isaiah 40:1-5

After reading those verses, I remember looking up at my friends and laughing. How had I never noticed this before? The book of Isaiah is an outline of the Bible! Chapter 40 lined up with the 40th book of the Bible—Matthew, the first of the Gospels to proclaim the Good News. And here before us, Chapter 40 of Isaiah declares hope, proclaims the coming of Christ and the restoration for God’s people. And then the final chapter stands alongside Revelation, declaring a new heaven and a new earth and that every knee will bow to the Lord (Isaiah 66:22-23).

Isn’t that fascinating?

I was no longer tired after reading those words. Instead, I was amazed and my stubborn childish antics faded away. I’d been throwing a spiritual temper tantrum because I had forgotten the One who gave His Word to me. I’d forgotten who God is.

Before me was a depiction of His immaculate design, everything ordered in perfect harmony.

And if He is a God of such power and precision, how can I then be so distressed by all that is going on in our world? I’m certain the Israelites were distressed for they had forgotten their hope. Haven’t we as a nation, as a world, forgotten our hope?

Like the Israelites, we can say “Woe is America,” or “Woe is our world,” but standing this side of the resurrection we are no longer in “woe.”

We are grounded and rooted with hope in Jesus.

My prayer for you this morning as that this little spark that restored the fire to my soul, would ignite your heart and mind in some way. Maybe it will help you to move back to the Word and to see with fresh eyes. I pray you take a deep breath and focus solely on the Lord. “Comfort, comfort my people, says your God” – Isaiah 40:1. He is our comfort and strength.

Let that take root today and clear away any clouds as we press on, knowing the Lord is at the helm.

Meaghan Rauscher

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