I caught up with an old friend this past week. I haven’t talked to her in years. She filled me in on what those years looked like–disillusionment, rejection, bitterness, generations-long broken relationships, heartache, wandering. She was working through the trials when a guest speaker came to her church. She said that God impressed upon her that this speaker had a word for her. She approached him afterwards and introduced herself, telling him what she felt the Lord was prompting. This man didn’t know her story, and he said he didn’t have to–that if God had a word for her through him, that he trusted God for it. Then he began to speak to her about restoration. She told me she stood there and cried.
I read of desolation and destruction in Isaiah.
- Now let me tell you what I will do to my vineyard: I will tear down its hedges and let it be destroyed. I will break down its walls and let the animals trample it. 6 I will make it a wild place where the vines are not pruned and the ground is not hoed, a place overgrown with briers and thorns. I will command the clouds to drop no rain on it. Isaiah 5:6-6, NLT.
- What sorrow for those who get up early in the morning looking for a drink of alcohol and spend long evenings drinking wine to make themselves flaming drunk. 12 They furnish wine and lovely music at their grand parties—lyre and harp, tambourine and flute—but they never think about the Lord or notice what he is doing. Isaiah 5:11-12, NLT.
- So my people will go into exile far away because they do not know me. Those who are great and honored will starve, and the common people will die of thirst. 14 The grave is licking its lips in anticipation, opening its mouth wide. The great and the lowly and all the drunken mob will be swallowed up. 15 Humanity will be destroyed, and people brought down; even the arrogant will lower their eyes in humiliation. Isaiah 5:14-15, NLT.
- What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies, who drag wickedness behind them like a cart! Isaiah 5:18, NLT.
- 20 What sorrow for those who say that evil is good and good is evil, that dark is light and light is dark, that bitter is sweet and sweet is bitter. 21 What sorrow for those who are wise in their own eyes and think themselves so clever. 22 What sorrow for those who are heroes at drinking wine and boast about all the alcohol they can hold. 23 They take bribes to let the wicked go free, and they punish the innocent. Isaiah 5:20-23, NLT.
I’m reading St. Augustine’s Confessions with a group of high schoolers. While many themes emerge in the reading, one is of waste and regret turned redemption and praise.
Sometimes we’re quite aware of the desolation, and other times we live blinded and confused in places where dark is light and bitter is sweet–deceived. Certainly, when God reveals truth to us, we will see the waste and shame in sweet light of grace and restoration.
3 They were calling out to each other,
“Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of Heaven’s Armies!
The whole earth is filled with his glory!” Isaiah 6:3, NLT
And it is. Glory birthed even in desolate places. He does a mighty work.