“I have no greater joy than to hear that my children are walking in the truth”
the apostle John said.(3John 4) He could have continued but didn’t: ‘and no greater anguish than when they stray from the truth.’
Being a person who sees the cup as half empty more often than half full, I gravitate to seeing the anguish end of the spectrum more often than the joy end. So it was very sweet this week to have my own daughter poke her thoughts into my sphere via a text message pointing me to a couple of passages that I needed to be reminded of.
Mine was a week without a lot of down time; we were visiting the grandkids. My Bible reading and quiet times suffered consequently and I was fast heading to the default of feeling fearful and helpless about ones I love but cannot shield from their own choices and from the big bad world we all live in. The kids were tucked in bed and I took a few minutes to reflect on where this tension I was feeling was coming from. As is my habit, I was journaling about it. I got to the end of the page with no answers, just questions, and a prayer: “Lord, change my heart. Show me how You live with kids in process—and still at peace.”
For me journaling helps to unearth what’s bothering me so that it doesn’t just simmer below the surface building up pressure. But its best product is in helping me bring what is troubling me to the Lord and the Word. This night was no exception. Earlier in the day, Rachel had texted me pointing to a couple passages she’d been reading and was very excited about. I was in the middle of playing “Grandmom” and hadn’t had a chance to look the verses up. Now they came back to mind. And turning to the familiar Isaiah 53 I found the answer to my question. How does God live with kids in process? How does He have peace in the midst of a sinful world? “…he poured out his soul to death…he bore the sin of many, and makes intercession for the transgressors.” (Is.53:12) It was as if God had been waiting all day to answer my question, and He had sent the answer via my own daughter.
I asked her to write down her thoughts for me after we had talked on the phone and I’ve invited her to share them with you here:
“ It's like one person wrote the Bible,” my Bible professor used to say, "and had one thing to say.” --Kelly Doherty, Torchbearers school.
Isaiah 53 is a passage we all know is talking about how Jesus went to the cross and died for us. We can almost quote it from memory. Crazy thing is, it was written years and years before it actually happened. Imagine someone reading that before. We can clearly see it happened; we understand it was talking about the crucifixion. I was reading through Isaiah and you know how you peek ahead in your Bible to see what's coming? Well I did, and I thought I knew; I already had read that passage. Nothing new here, I thought. But I was wrong. It’s kinda cool how new things pop out of the page when you read the passage again. Go ahead read it for yourself.
Verse 11 and 12 really stood out to me. Ready for it?
"As a result of the anguish of His soul, He will see it and be satisfied.
By his knowledge the Righteous one, My Servant, will justify the many,
As he will bear their iniquities.” (Is.53:11 NASB)
Than, holding your finger in Isaiah 53, hop over to the New Testament to Romans 5:18:
"So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men." (NASB)
Than, go back to reading Isaiah 53:12--
Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors. (Is.53:12NASB)
This is where it gets really exciting…
If you flip over to Hebrews 12:2 and read it you could say your jaw pops open. It's like that verse wraps up Isaiah 53’s passage:
"... fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Heb.12:2NASB)
Wow. And because He intercedes for us, we can draw near to Him at the throne of grace. (Heb.4:16) Know what that means? We can bring any care, any worry, any problem to Jesus because he intercedes for us. He cares for us so much he even died for us. When is the last time you did that for your friend?
And what I find really cool with the Bible--it's like one person wrote the Bible. It’s like the Bible fits together perfectly with verses that match so well you shake your head in disbelief. It's like you don’t even need a commentary to read the Bible. The Bible is the best commentary on the Bible. It is really like one person wrote the Bible. But…you say, a lot of people wrote the Bible, not just one. But God inspired it. He just used men to write what he wanted them to write.
I went to Bible school last year at a Torchbearer school. There are many teachers that I remember; I can almost hear their voices now. There was one outstanding voice I hear even to this day, in his British accent, a guest speaker. “ There is a man in heaven!” he’d shout, giving you a heart attack if you weren’t listening already, “Who intercedes for us.”
Well, that’s my Rachel. Actually, that’s God’s Rachel. And not only am I encouraged at the reminder that the most important intercession of all has already been done for me and for mine, but I am encouraged to see my own progeny following hard after truth and coupling it with faith in the One who ever lives to intercede for us.
When my gaze falls short of Him I begin to think it’s up to me to do something to control outcomes. I begin to feel desperate, panicky, fearful and faithless, as though if something is to be, it’s up to me to bring it about. I may indeed have a calling. For instance, I too am called to intercede. But this must flow from a God-confidence borne of the reality that it is God, not I, that is accomplishing the work of redemption. He is in the process of bringing many sons to glory. He will complete that work. Meanwhile He calls me to believe and so to walk, trusting and obeying, faithful to His calling and leaving the rest with Him.
I needed the reminder this week. Thank-you, Rachel, and thanks be to God. He is indeed faithful to those He has called to be His own.
BUT MY RIGHTEOUS ONE SHALL LIVE BY FAITH; AND IF HE SHRINKS BACK, MY SOUL HAS NO PLEASURE IN HIM. But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the preserving of the soul. Heb.10:38,39 NASB
Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the Apostle and High Priest of our confession; He was faithful to Him who appointed Him, as Moses also was in all His house. Heb.2:17,18; 3:1-2 NASB
Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. Faithful is He who calls you, and He also will bring it to pass. Brethren, pray for us. I Thess.5:23-25 NASB]
Rachel Love is my youngest child. I’ve written about her here before. She’s cut from a different mold than I. She’s adventurous and positive, not easily discouraged or held back by ‘what if’s. She’s continually coming up with ideas that bounce right past my more practical objections. She lives with confidence that God will direct her steps as she takes them. And so she is currently spending the summer with her Grandma in the boonies of Alaska which has opened up for her the opportunity to do office work (something she’s always wanted to do!) at a local campground while she waits to see what doors God will open next for her. Her faith inspires me.