Plea for Grace – May 17, 2023

Meditations from the wilderness . . .

It’s been a minute since I have written; in fact, it’s been nearly two months since the last post on my continual temptation to be my own shepherd . . .

The day after I wrote that post, I fell and broke my wrist. Not just a normal break that a cast or splint would fix, but a break that required surgery and a plate and screws and recovery and months of physical therapy. Surgery of any kind is not just a “normal event” either– praise God for understanding surgeons and anesthesiologists who are willing to find alternatives to anesthesia, pain management, and recovery timetables. I can now use my wrist/hand/fingers in a mostly normal fashion (case in point, I’m able to type this post) and I am gaining strength each week. Admittedly, this was an over-the-top measure to get out of unpacking boxes (did I forget to say we were in the midst of a move to a new home when this happened?)

Providentially, I had been memorizing/meditation on Isaiah 40 for the last several months. Because of my love of Handel’s Messiah, much of the passage was familiar to me (even though converting KJV to ESV was sometimes a bit tricky).

Isaiah 40:1-3 ESV - 
1 Comfort, comfort my people, says your God. 
2 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. 
3 A voice cries: "In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God.

God is assuring His people that He has not forgotten them, and that their captivity will come to an end. But it’s not over quite yet. However, they are not to just sit on their hands and wait for the deliverance. They are to get ready. They are to clear away all the obstacles to their deliverance. It’s not a matter of “when I am delivered then I will obey and walk with God.” Obedience is not quid pro quo– obedience to God’s Word is submitting to how the Creator has designed life to be lived. God can legitimately say “because I said so. . .”

Psalm 119:1-5 ESV - 
1 Blessed are those whose way is blameless, who walk in the law of the LORD! 
2 Blessed are those who keep his testimonies, who seek him with their whole heart, 
3 who also do no wrong, but walk in his ways! 
4 You have commanded your precepts to be kept diligently. 
5 Oh that my ways may be steadfast in keeping your statutes!

This is the mindset and action of one who is preparing the way of the Lord, making a highway for God. He is obeying God’s Word, seeking God’s ways, being consistent regardless of the circumstances.

God’s comfort in my “wilderness” of pain and spasms and inactivity and feelings of uselessness and frustration is His presence. He is my Shepherd. He is with me always. He is not torturing me for His own pleasure. Jesus lived a perfect life of obedience, died a horrid death to pay my just penalty for my sin, and rose triumphantly to defeat death and reign triumphant. My warfare is ended– I am no longer God’s enemy. My iniquity is pardoned–Jesus ransomed me. Knowing His Word, memorizing His Word, renewing my mind, is preparing me to see God’s comfort and blessing despite the circumstances.

I know me well enough to know that when I am in the midst of difficulty and confusion is not the time that I go “seeking after God.” Seeking after relief — sure. But not establishing a habit of renewing my mind and making my ways steadfast in keeping God’s statutes. No, these habits (think spiritual disciplines) must be cultivated when life is calmer and my mind is clearer and I am not dealing with pain and brain fog and fatigue. God is faithful to give me life according to His Word (Psalm 119:25), to strengthen me according to His Word (Psalm 119:28). I don’t have to “feel it” because I know that His Word is true, that He is good and does good (Psalm 119:68).

Everyone has “wilderness” times. It’s part of living in a sinful broken world. God has not forgotten you. He has not turned His back. His Word is true and His love is steadfast whether or not you “feel it.” Are you in a more calm state, where life is less “wilderness-y”? Let me encourage you to develop a consistent habit of renewing your mind, memorizing and knowing God’s Word so that His strength and His comfort will equip you through the wilderness times.

Wilderness will not be forever. God even assured His people of that . . .

Isaiah 40:4-5 ESV - 
4 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. 
5 And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken."

Every valley lifted up, every mountain and hill made low, the uneven ground level and the rough places smoothed out so that when God’s glory is revealed there are no obstacles to seeing it. It’s a sure thing because God said it. Imagine — in heaven we will see our Lord face to face. No obstacles, no barriers, just the full glory of the Lord forever. Hallelujah, what a Savior!

2 thoughts on “Plea for Grace – May 17, 2023

  1. I’m so sorry to hear of your recent challenges…you have been missed! However, grateful for His healing and you’re once again able to share your thoughts and wisdom!

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