There are times when we read passages in scripture and they roll straight off the tongue of Jesus and onto our hearts like honey. Other times we read and the ink on the page places before us a mirror causing us to reflect on who we are and how we can become more like Christ. Still there are other occasions when we read scripture and we stop to ask ourselves if we even believe it at all. The words are alive with a challenge and we are forced into a corner of decision.
Not at all concerned with context, I merely fumbled across the words of Isaiah 25:1 which simply read, “You, Lord, are my God.” I thought to myself, “are you?” The author of those words was certainly convinced, but as for me… I simply wasn’t that sure.
I had picked up my bible with a numb heart and no real desire to hear from the Lord. It was more habit than it was for any beneficial or even obligatory purpose. I looked at those words until they ran together into a swirl of black and white. Just paper and ink. No real meaning in that moment other than to pose the question that rolled over and over in my mind, “are you God, and if you are, are you my God?” I’m not even sure if my question was concerning my ownership of his position or his ownership of me. It was just a black and white question that rambled endlessly through the raw corridors of my mind demanding some kind of understanding that my circumstances were scrambling into an unintelligible mess.
Aimlessly I read on. I came to Isaiah 26:12-13, “O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works. O LORD our God, other lords besides you have ruled over us, but your name alone we bring to remembrance.” And there it was. The mirror in the ink. There have been a great many lower case “lords” who have ruled over our time, our talents, and our treasure. We’ve gotten lost in the kingdom of those lords. It happens to all of us. We mistake the lords for the Lord and when things go dark, we automatically begin to question the Lord our God who never shifted or changed regardless of the circumstances. He’s been there the entire time laying the framework for his plan and working his good even when the lower lords around us do not have good plans or pure intentions.
In all things, it’s not the broken and the evil that need have our focus, it’s his name that we need to bring to our remembrance because his name is all that matters. “O LORD, your hand is lifted up, but they do not see it.” What they see is not my concern, what I see is what matters and my eyes see a righteous God who has not put a glove over his righteous right hand. It’s his name that I will remember. It’s his place in my life that I will remember, not the hurt or the evil that has been done.
“Come, my people, enter your chambers, and shut your doors behind you; hide yourselves for a little while until the fury has passed by.” I’m tired right now and I’m broken and that’s ok. If there’s a fight that needs to be fought, it’s not my battle. It’s ok to hide in his chambers for a while and shut the door until the fury has passed by, but in the hiding it is mine to know that he truly is the LORD my God. Though other lords have ruled over me they have not touched the power or the righteous hand of my God and he is just that, mine, and I am his.
“And you, you gotta find your way back home, out of the woods. And you, you don’t have to hold your own. You gotta find your way back home, out of the woods. They’re gonna smoke you out. They’re gonna find you out. Out of the woods”
– John Mark McMillan.
Sometimes we get lost in the deep dark forest with lords all around us laying claim over us. We get lost and we forget the fire that ran through us like a current. We wander aimlessly after an allusion of what we once saw so clearly. God doesn’t let us stay in the woods though, not for always. He calls to us and pulls us back into himself usually in a very painful way but we don’t have to hold our own as he calls us back into his shelter. He restores our peace and he gives us rest and then he sends us out again. In all of this it’s his name alone that we bring to remembrance and as he lovingly tilts my chin upward toward his face, I can say with absolute certainty, “O LORD, you are my God; I will exalt you; I will praise your name” Isaiah 25:1.