We took our oldest son to college a week ago. It was a glorious, heart-wrenching day. A full day, with comforts for body and soul at every turn… student volunteers whisking luggage and belongings up to dorm rooms faster than I could say “thank you” and tantalizing food for the body from morn to night. Cheering students and welcome committees. Balloons and festive t-shirts. Finally, a candlelight ceremony designed to help all find peace in the past, be present in the moment, and hope in and for the future. Designed to cup all in hush and beauty. Space for joy and grief. Holy ground.
This candlelight service was declared as the first in book-end services: one at freshman orientation and the next- four years from now- at graduation/convocation. I found myself informed. New traditions. New ceremonies. New significance.
But I am left, unsettled. Navigating a new world.
Behold my servant, whom I uphold,
my chosen, in whom my soul delights;
I have put my Spirit upon him;
he will bring forth justice to the nations.
2 He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice,
or make it heard in the street;
3 a bruised reed he will not break,
and a faintly burning wick he will not quench;
he will faithfully bring forth justice.
4 He will not grow faint or be discouraged[d]
till he has established justice in the earth;
and the coastlands wait for his law. ESV
Jesus. Bringer of Justice. Tender Chosen One who endures. I sense His inexorable commitment. Unwavering, yet gentle, leader.
5 Thus says God, the Lord,
who created the heavens and stretched them out,
who spread out the earth and what comes from it,
who gives breath to the people on it
and spirit to those who walk in it:
6 “I am the Lord; I have called you[e] in righteousness;
I will take you by the hand and keep you;
I will give you as a covenant for the people,
a light for the nations,
7 to open the eyes that are blind,
to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon,
from the prison those who sit in darkness.
8 I am the Lord; that is my name;
my glory I give to no other,
nor my praise to carved idols.
9 Behold, the former things have come to pass,
and new things I now declare;
before they spring forth
I tell you of them.” ESV
All the passages in Isaiah- familiar ones to me. College memories (my own) so near at hand as our own dear one steps into his new place, space, and season.
Yet, still, everything feels new and untethered to me in this season.
As my son stretches out to navigate new waters, form new relationships, and hopefully make deep, God-ordained connections- the Scriptures quicken memories. “I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations.” I remember a song of worship that we used to sing at Lehigh during Large Group (Inter -varsity)… and a google search brings me right to it. Sadly, with no music- but the lyrics! And I realize that it was actually written by the Inter-varsity leaders on our campus… and the date is 1997. I can feel the passionate pulse of my twenty- year old heart for Jesus. I remember the Spirit and the praise.
O, the memories. O, the time of life for this son of my heart.
“Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare;” ESV
“New things” was a theme in that candlelight worship service I mentioned above. And “new things” is a theme in my life- right now, in so many ways. I struggle to find my footing.
Thus says the Lord,
who makes a way in the sea,
a path in the mighty waters,
17 who brings forth chariot and horse,
army and warrior;
they lie down, they cannot rise,
they are extinguished, quenched like a wick:
18 “Remember not the former things,
nor consider the things of old.
19 Behold, I am doing a new thing;
now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness
and rivers in the desert.
20 The wild beasts will honor me,
the jackals and the ostriches,
for I give water in the wilderness,
rivers in the desert,
to give drink to my chosen people,
21 the people whom I formed for myself
that they might declare my praise. ESV
But God will make a way.
Everything is to “declare God’s praise.” The Lord speaks to my heart: I am to perceive the new thing springing forth in the wilderness. I am to remember that the Lord gives water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert; sweet, refreshing drink to his chosen- and all of this section (41-44) of Isaiah so boldly, directly declares the passionate, personal focus/care of the Lord toward His people- whom He so clearly prizes and treasures
… Isaiah 43:21 reminds me I am formed for Him. And all, so that with everything in me, I can declare His praise.
1 Corinthians 12
27 Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it. ESV
1 Corinthians 12 presents the church as the body; a unified whole unable to function without each, significant part. And I need the reminder: again, again- to be who I am. To be fully who I, alone, am. I struggle to value my part. This chapter reminds me that God values my part; indeed, each part is essential. I pray I gain the courage to live fully into my purpose in the body.
Lord, only You can sort out all the untethered thoughts and emotions. You are the Rock; and You are Peace. I pray You guide me in this wilderness place I find myself. I pray for my son with a cry unutterable that only the Spirit can interpret and convey. Help me to find myself at peace in You; and joyful in Your calling. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.