Friday, November 18, 2016

Wrought In The Soul

I have read and wrestled with the words of Isaiah 58 for the last several days. Reading and rereading, praying and reading again. I think many of us, special needs caregivers, parents or not have struggled with the thought of " I have done all of the 'things', said all of the right words...where is my blessing".

“Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
    Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
    and to the descendants of Jacob their sins.
For day after day they seek me out;
    they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
    and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
    and seem eager for God to come near them.
‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
    ‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
    and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
    and exploit all your workers.
Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
    and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
    and expect your voice to be heard on high.
Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
    only a day for people to humble themselves?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
    and for lying in sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
    a day acceptable to the Lord?
“Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
    and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
    and break every yoke?
Is it not to share your food with the hungry
    and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe them,
    and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
    and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness[a] will go before you,
    and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard.
Then you will call, and the Lord will answer;
    you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
    with the pointing finger and malicious talk,
10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
    and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
    and your night will become like the noonday.
11 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
    and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
    Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.
13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
    and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
    and the Lord’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
    and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,
14 then you will find your joy in the Lord,
    and I will cause you to ride in triumph on the heights of the land
    and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
For the mouth of the Lord has spoken.
Isaiah 58 NIV

Forgive me for throwing the whole thing at you at once I desperately wanted to pull a verse or two and say something pleasant and applicable to the masses, but I can't. In reading this and reading some of the commentary I came across the following words of Matthew Henry:

As sin and sorrow dry the bones and weaken the strongest human constitution; so the duties of kindness and charity strengthen and refresh both body and mind. Those who do justly and love mercy, shall have the comfort, even in this world. Good works will bring the blessing of God, provided they are done from love to God and man, and wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit.

"WROUGHT IN THE SOUL by the Holy Spirit"

I looked up the meaning of the word "wrought", according to Merriam-Webster the simple definition is "carefully formed or worked into shape." That sounds lovely and comforting. However, reading further I saw words like "hammered", "beaten" and "deeply stirred".

There we go.

I love the imagery and knowledge of knowing that in many ways I am being and have been "carefully formed and worked into shape". What I know right now is, I have also been and will continue to be "hammered", "beaten"' and "deeply stirred".

Wrought in the soul by the Holy Spirit.

I know as parents and caregivers of our loved ones we often feel hammered and beaten by the world from every side, often to the point we don't even recognize what and who we have become. It doesn't seem fair and just that we not only endure these things but we are somehow expected to "loosen the chains of injustice, set the oppressed free...and break every yoke."

We are called to pour out everything we have, and we believe we do.

I want you to know that God recognizes you, in every beaten and hammered form and He is stirring something deep within you, " a spring whose waters never fail." You are uniquely prepared and you are carefully wrought. And when you call out to God, He will say, "Here am I." He will "satisfy your needs in a sun scorched land and will strengthen your frame."

We are equipped like no others; to give, to loosen the chains, to free the oppressed and to break every yoke. We know because we live it and see it in countless ways, both large and small, every day. We have been given a unique place an interesting platform and an incredible sphere of influence. We can not neglect that, we can not simply go through the motions and do the right things because we know they are the right things. God expects more, and we are a people who knows how to give more than most would think humanly possible.

We also carry the unique burden of knowing it will never be enough.

Look around you, wherever you may be; feed the hungry, repair the broken, free the oppressed and restore the streets...

Do this knowing that:

 The Lord will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.
Isaiah 58:11 NIV

Oh God our Creator, You mold and shape us into your image. Help us to not stand in the way of that. Open our eyes to Your works and to those around us who are in need. God show us those who are hungry and hurting and stir in us  that unfailing spring  that can meet their need. Father we know that our strength is renewed and flows from that spring, let it flow from us to those who are thirsty and searching for water. You know that so often we feel that we have nothing left to give, when we hit that point Father remind us, remind us what we all ways have to give, is You. Amen.

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