Wading through Scripture
After wading through twelve straight chapters of judgment, swift and harsh, I arrived this morning at Chapter 25 of Isaiah. It’s been a long few quiet times, trying to hear my Shepherd’s word to me amidst the terrors and the topplings of ancient kingdoms. But this morning, a welcome word; an easily-discerned word:
O Lord, You are my God
I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name;
For You have worked wonders,
Plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness
Sometimes I feel like God is biding His time—either in a long and challenging spate of Bible verses, or in my own life circumstances, or in the world itself. It kind of feels like He’s putting Himself in pause mode, leaving me to fend for myself for awhile. I know Him well enough to recognize the error of my thinking, but behind the veil of finitude and mystery and silence that makes up much of life’s hours, this false impression can remain.
That’s why passages like this are such a gift. They remind me of what’s true.
God’s timely Word
I love God’s Word. I love how He uses these eons-old prophets and apostles—sinners and saints, all—to speak still. So often it happens that, exactly when I need it, the veil obscuring my view is lifted just long enough for me to catch a glimpse of what God is about.
It happens again a few verses down the page:
The Lord of hosts will prepare a lavish banquet for all peoples on this mountain;
A banquet of aged wine, choice pieces with marrow,
And refined, aged wine.
Do you catch what God is doing here? While we occupy ourselves with laboring and loving, making ends meet and marking the passing of time, God is planning a party. Of course, that’s not all He’s doing, but it’s a big part of what’s in His heart. Has been from the beginning.
A few weeks ago, Greg and I stayed home with our grandson Henry while his parents went out on a date. It was the eve of Henry’s first birthday party. So, while our kids were enjoying a couple of hours to themselves and Henry was peacefully sleeping in his crib, we decided to surprise them and bake a cake. We have nary an artistic bone between the two of us, but somehow we shared the conviction that this is exactly how we should spend those two hours.
We baked the cake, cut it into a trapezoid and a couple of lopsided right triangles, slapped some frosting and candy on top, and—to our utter amazement—the end product actually (loosely) resembled the sailboat we were going for. We could hardly wait for the kids to get home so we could surprise them. We were not disappointed: They loved the cake and effusively affirmed our decision to make it. (Which speaks volumes about their gracious hearts and nothing at all about the end product.)
Right now, behind the scenes, God is planning a party to end all parties. He’s baking the cake; He’s growing grapes in the vineyard; He’s setting the table with finest china; He’s deciding on a color scheme the likes of which we’ve never seen. He’s got His calendar and His checklist, and nothing is going to frustrate these plans of His.
The agenda is already set: He will greet each of us personally. Where there’s a tear trickling down, He’ll gently wipe it away. Where there’s a brow furrowed in confusion, He’ll dispel the mystery. Where shoulders are hunched in shame, He will wrap the cloak of righteousness more tightly and gently lift the crestfallen face.
When I find myself bowed down with worry, overcome by exhaustion, sobered by life’s inevitable decline, or fearful of death, I am going to try to remember that what I see and touch and breathe in is not all there is. The reality—more sure than any I’ve yet known—is that, someday, you and I will say:
Behold, this is our God for whom we have waited . . .
Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.
I’m thinking that the more I absorb this reality, the better I’ll be able to rejoice and be glad right now. Because, for those who know the Party Planner, the party is already beginning.