Even a Wreck Like Me ~ Isaiah Series ~ Part 3
~ Isaiah Series ~
Even a Wreck Like Me
One of my very favorite things about the way God works is that He is both willing and able to both bless and use the very people who used to be complete wrecks. (Because this means there is hope for even me!!!)
I find it fascinating that, when faced with God’s holiness in Isaiah 6, Isaiah’s knee-jerk response was “Woe to me! I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips…!” He sees how amazing God is and feels compelled to “come clean,” so to speak. So that’s what he does: he admits his sin. He owns his filth.
And then, immediately, Isaiah is purified, told he is now no longer guilty, and then promptly invited to participate in God’s work.
It was that simple:
Step 1: Get a glimpse of who God truly is.
Step 2: Realize how unlike God you are.
Step 3: Admit it.
Step 4: Get forgiven and cleansed by God.
Step 5: Get invited to join God to bring truth and restoration to your surrounding community.
Step 6: Say “Yes, please” and then go do it.
When God asks for volunteers to “go for” Him, Isaiah, without hesitation, responds with “Here am I. Send me!” and God, in turn, swiftly responds by giving Isaiah specific instructions regarding exactly where Isaiah is supposed to go and what he is supposed to do and say. Despite the fact that Isaiah had just declared his own sinfulness, God wastes no time in putting Isaiah to work as a prophet to Isaiah’s own nation.
And here’s the crazy thing: Isaiah does it! Right away, in fact. God tells him what to do and all Isaiah asks is just one clarifying question (“For how long, Lord?”) and then he gets to work doing what God tells him to do.
I love that Isaiah wastes no time in listening to God, believing and receiving whatever God offers, and then responding to God. How often do most of us do that? It’s a tragedy how long I have sometimes stayed “stuck” in my own sin and past dysfunction, simply because I wasn’t willing to RECEIVE and BELIEVE the truth God had declared over me, the truth He declares over all of us: the truth that we are loved, we are chosen, we are mended, we are forgiven, we are set apart, and that God has a purpose for us.
When I read Isaiah 61:1-7 I see this same storyline play out again:
“The Spirit of the Sovereign Lord is on me [Jesus]… He has sent me [Jesus] to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim freedom for the captives and release from darkness for the prisoners… to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve… They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor. They will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations…”
When I read these words, I see that, once again (just as He did with Isaiah himself in Chapter 6), God uses the very people He had just rescued to be the very conduits to bring further healing and restoration to their communities.
Look closely at Isaiah 61: First, God binds up and proclaims freedom and releases from captivity a certain group of His kids… and then, just a few verses later, He declares that “they” (the ones He had just released from prison, the ones whose hearts He had just bound up, the ones He had just comforted) “they will be called oaks of righteousness… they will rebuild the ancient ruins and restore the places long devastated; they will renew the ruined cities that have been devastated for generations.”
God called the former brokenhearted captives, the former prisoners, the former grieving, mourning ones, the ones the rest of the world had likely given up on and labeled as “hopeless”— God called them into the business of growing strong and rebuilding their broken communities. God called them “priests of the Lord,… ministers of our God” (61:6). He took away their shame and disgrace and replaced it with “everlasting joy” (61:7). Despite their past, despite their neediness, despite how hopeless everything may have seemed in their lives— God chose to redeem and rename them, declaring that “they will be called the Holy People, the Redeemed of the Lord… [they] will be called Sought After, the City No Longer Deserted” (Isaiah 62:12). He not only rescued them, He gave them a whole new identity.
He does that for us, too. After He purifies us and saves our lives, God gives us new identities, new marching orders, new job descriptions. In love, He transforms and renames us.
I’ve even seen this in my own life: I used to be an insecure, ignorant, fear-filled young woman. I acted out my insecurities in secret self-righteousness and pride, judging those around me, jealous when others would succeed, always afraid of what people thought of me. But God rescued me from that path. He showed me His true self, which caused me to see and grieve my true self, and then He washed me clean and made me into a whole new person. I now know that I can truly rest in who He has made me to be— nothing more, nothing less. I am now ever-growing in my relationship with Him and I now know that I need not fear anything because, no matter what, He is by my side. And He loves me and will guide me through whatever comes my way.
And, perhaps best of all, I can now genuinely cheer for those around me, wholeheartedly wanting their best and doing whatever I can to help them succeed in whatever God is calling them to. I can applaud and support them as they run in their lane; and I now recognize that their successes and failures have no bearing on my own journey. I can rejoice or mourn freely with them, depending on whatever they are going through. God has changed me, He has freed me, He has created a new heart in me.
And, goodness gracious, I am so very grateful!
I consider the old hymn “Come, Thou Font” and I recall one particular line of lyric in there: “Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it…”
Yes, me too. I, too, despite His grace, despite His goodness and all He has done to free me, find myself slipping back into my old ways, wandering away from what I know in my heart is true. (Don’t we all do this?) But isn’t it gorgeous that God meets us where we’re at anyway, with His “streams of mercy never ceasing” (as the song says), and He corrects us and brings us back to Himself, back to His good plan for our lives?
It is astounding to me that God is willing and able to use the very people who were formerly complete wrecks. People like me.
Thank You, Lord, for Your good, transforming love.
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Over the next several weeks, as I continue to dive into Isaiah, and as my church studies this book in depth during our weekend services, I am going to be sharing my thoughts here on the blog. I would love if you joined me. And feel free to listen to the solid teaching happening on the weekends if you feel so inclined. (Click here to listen to the sermon series.)
I look forward to hashing out this incredible ancient book with you.
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What about you?
Have you ever considered that God will redeem and make beautiful even the shady, dark parts of your story? Do you believe that God has great plans for you (and even wants to partner with you) despite your past?
Please share your journey in the comment section below.