Isaiah 61 – It’s Personal

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The new century had just begun and we found ourselves smack dab in the middle of a family crisis — an issue that was beyond anything I ever dreamed we would have to confront. It resulted in a turbulent time of upheaval, loss, grieving, separation, confusion, and anger. No, not just anger – let’s be honest – it was rage. The goal quickly became to just make it through.

Now, there was a time in my life when I might have said I was “lucky” when things worked out in an almost miraculous way. But it is in the hard times when we discover more and more of who Christ is, and “luck” had nothing to do with how we made it through this turmoil in our lives — It was God, pure and simple.

The first thing, by God’s grace, that I was able to put together was a support system. A seemingly random group of both friends and professionals soon started to form a most treasured circle of support.

On one occasion, when calling a number I was given, the head of the department answered and quickly became the first medical professional in my support system. Without her constant presence, encouragement, information, and guidance I don’t know what the outcome might have been; she was truly a gift from God to us.

God had also graced me with two groups of friends like no other and the gift of two dear friends who are still in my life today. During this time, I had begun to develop a philosophy: I was going to pick everyone’s brain that I came in contact with because you never know where the answer may come from. These groups of women allowed me to do that; we cried together, they let me rage when I needed to, we prayed together. They lifted me up, carried me through, and made me laugh.

This entire support system of friends and professionals helped me to check, and re-check, my emotions, my motives, my perspective and, most importantly, my perceptions on an almost daily basis. They kept me in reality. They kept me centered. And they let me know, when my world was turning upside down, that it was ok — it would come back full-tilt soon enough.

Some people in my support system served as guides, and some were there to help us “get through” and then went on their way, but many are still in my life as precious friends. With God’s help, we were making it through this. It was not easy, and at times it looked like we were losing when, actually, we were becoming stronger!

And through my bible study group, on a day I still remember, I was given a lifeline: Isaiah 61. What a tremendous gift! What I love about God is that He is over-the-top — He doesn’t just say “I will help you. I will help you fix your life” — even that would be enough — but no! He goes on for verse after verse after verse of what He will do for us, and our children, and our children’s children if we only receive it and believe it — He tells us in Isaiah 61: I came to set you free from your issues and problems — whatever has you trapped. I came to rebuild your ruins (the past of our family was filled with them), I came to restore your life. I came to clean-up the mess. I came to repay you — and not just a little, but a lot! — two, ten, a hundred times what was taken from you! I came to repair, renew, and give you a future that is bright for yourselves and your children!

When I learned of these verses, I was not in a place of joy — I was in a place of despair. I could not see hope, not for miles and miles. But I do believe God — He had, up to this point, shown up for me in my life too many times for me to deny that He does what He says He will do and so I grabbed on to Isaiah 61 with both hands and wouldn’t let go …

Out of a hellish time, a time when tearing apart, destruction, and emotional pain was the name of the game, God had a different plan — a good plan for our lives. And God showed up and Isaiah 61 became a reality for our family in ways that were never dreamed of, or could be seen coming.

We have hit bumps in the road since this time in our lives, we have gotten lost, gone off-path, had more than one crises to deal with, as life has a way of doing — but because of the place we had been in, knowing that God showed up and gave us the people we needed when we needed them, and more importantly, the people who stayed(!) long after the crises was over, I am a believer.

I believe that Isaiah 61 is a personal promise to each and every one of us who receives it. And I have found that out of our experiences comes our beliefs; that which is true for us. And out of these beliefs, and truths, comes deep knowing; and out of this deep knowing comes peace that surpasses understanding. So I guess the question is: what do you know to be true? I mean really, deeply know to be true? Joyce Meyer says it like this: “I know that I know that I know.”

Very simply, we made it through that time because of the promises of Isaiah 61 — and His promises are personal — tailor-made for each and every one of us.

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The Glory behind the Story of ImageIN THE DESERT

After the death of our dad, my mom, sisters and I were drained. Losing someone who brought so much life — my dad was fun, fun-loving, adventurous, always moving, never still — was hard, and so were the adjustments we now had to make.

For me, my dad’s passing began a season of several losses. My life began changing in ways I had not expected, and I couldn’t seem to stop them from happening. I wanted life to stay the way it had always been; to stand still, at least for a moment, while I got my bearings! I found myself scrambling. I was trying to find what my direction now was. If only I could understand what was happening …

I have a bad habit of always looking back, as if I can change what has already passed. And, during this time of losses, I was obsessively looking back to a time before they had begun. But this view of the past was distorted, not quite in focus; the colors blended together in a swirl as if I were looking through a bowl of water. I wanted to reach out and grab the pictures, but the water just rippled the images away from my grasp and they were gone.

I remember thinking that God was moving and He wanted me to move also — to cross over to some other side. But I really had no idea what this meant. Not feeling particularly adventurous, I didn’t want any more changes — I felt alone. I was waiting. During this time, a scripture kept showing itself to me:

Arise, shine for thy light has come — Isaiah 60:1

I struggled to arise and shine, but nothing I did worked. And the more I struggled, the more trouble I created for myself and others.

The answer, which took me years to discover, was not to struggle, but to surrender. Let go. Let go and let God. I thought about that. Surrender. Surrender to grieving the loss of my dad, surrender to the changes in my family, to the changes in my life. I had resisted doing that … because I had been waiting, waiting to get back my old life, not realizing that it was just ripples in the water. So now I know —

And I am making peace with where I am. This took traveling through the dry desert to get to this place of acceptance — it came in time, not over-night. And, I find that joy, happiness, and laughter are here, too. The season of losses has shifted my life; my life, now, is in adjusting to this shift. And it’s all going to be ok —

 

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In The Desert, Waiting on You