Thursday, December 16, 2010

Nontraditional Advent: Isaiah 26 - In that day, we will sing this song . . .

Christmastime celebrates joy to the world, peace on earth, goodwill toward men.
As if that actually exists in the world today.

Seriously, my house is pretty peaceful today.  The tree has presents under it.  My kids are amazing.  We like each other.  We're healthy.  I've finished the semester and paid the bills.  Duane has a job, and I love school and teaching.  Our cars run.  We have great friends.

But tomorrow?
I don't know.

  • A friend just got a bad report on her mammogram, and today, as I speak, she is waiting to hear the details.  
  • Another friend's son is in Afghanistan.  He was wounded a couple months ago, and although he's fine, it was a reminder that he's in danger every single day, and the news could have been far worse.  
  • Another friend's marriage is on the verge of divorce.  They hope it doesn't turn out like that, but their history isn't too great.  

That's just a snapshot of the world I know.  The world is a dangerous place.  Every day people go to bed hungry.  Every day crimes take place.  Murders.  Rapes.  Robberies.  Not everyone feels safe in their homes like I do.  Every day children are molested or beaten.

The birth of Jesus didn't signal peace on earth.  It didn't signal the end of economic or political oppression.  Just because my world is good today doesn't mean that it's not pretty rotten for others.

However, it's a powerful reminder that God loves us.  That he longs for a relationship with us.  That we can trust his goodness toward us.

When I was a little girl, I learned a verse from Isaiah 26:  Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace him whose mind is stayed on these, because he trusteth in thee.  Yeah.  You've got to love the King James.

Sometime later I learned the verse in the NIV, and because I actually read the passage, I read that verse in context:
You will keep in perfect peace those whose minds are steadfast because they trust in you.   
Trust in the Lord forever, for the Lord, the Lord is the Rock eternal.    
He humbles those who dwell on high, he lays the lofty city low; he levels it to the ground and casts it down to the dust.  Feet trample it down--the feet of the oppressed, the footsteps of the poor.   
The path of the righteous is level; you, the Upright One, make the way of the righteous smooth.   
Yes, Lord, walking in the ways of yours, we wait for you.  Your name and renown are the desire of our hearts.  My soul years for you in the night; in the morning my spirit longs for you.
Sometimes, even in times of trouble, when I don't know what's going to happen next, I do keep my mind on Jesus, I do trust him, and he does give me peace.  And sometimes, I panic and get anxious.  I wish I could just trust him all the time.  I wish I could remember to ask for help.

I wish that God's glory and his name were always at the foremost of my thoughts.  My days go much better when I yearn for the Lord's presence at night and when I long for his voice in the morning.

But I'm going to confess.  I don't live like this all the time.  I wished I did, but I don't.
I wish that peace on earth and goodwill among men reigned in our time, but it doesn't.

We live in the tension of now and not yet.
We have the birth of Jesus, his death and resurrection.  We see glimpses the promise of God's kingdom on earth, but we only see as "through a glass darkly."

Today, as I returned to this passage to write on it, I read Isaiah 26:1.  This passage references a song that will be sung "in that day," meaning that the day is not yet.

In the meantime, we walk in faith, waiting, trusting that day will be more than we can ask or even imagine, remembering that Jesus came because God loves us.

  • By the way, my friend with the bad report on the mammogram sent me a FB message while I wrote this.  Everything's good, and I'm praising God for the wonderful news.  

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