Now You go….

March 5, 2012

Devotions written by Shelley Brandon, Grief and Encouragement Coach

Isaiah 61

The Year of the LORD’s Favor

Moses with Radiant Face (1638 painting by José...
Image via Wikipedia

1 The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me

to proclaim good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,[a]
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD’s favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of joy
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

4 They will rebuild the ancient ruins

and restore the places long devastated;
they will renew the ruined cities
that have been devastated for generations.
5 Strangers will shepherd your flocks;
foreigners will work your fields and vineyards.
6 And you will be called priests of the LORD,
you will be named ministers of our God.
You will feed on the wealth of nations,

and in their riches you will boast.

Every night in Guatemala, after we ate and cleaned up, we had a time of praise & worship and devotions.  In the mornings before we left we were each to spend time alone with God.  It was during the personal time with God that my eyes were brought to Isaiah 61.  I was floored by the first verses and continued to feel my jaw sagging to my feet as I continued to read the entire chapter.  This was my personal devotion during the whole trip and it will be my focus this week as well.

The first verse brought to mind Moses when he was talking to God through the combustible bush, I could almost hear Him whispering to me, “I have heard the cries of my people in Guatemala and I’ve come down to help them….. now you go and do my work.”  I felt so inadequate and small compared to the enormity of the needs there.  I’m sure Moses felt like he was ready to conquer the world and shouted out, “CHARGE!” Or not.  I heard Ken Davis say once that the part of Moses should have been played by Martin Short.  If that’s the case then I’ve got to be the I Love Lucy version, “Whaaaaaaaaaa!”

At the same time I was also very hopeful and felt the stirrings of something I’d not felt in a long time.  Life.  In the hours spent in the sun, at the base of an active volcano called “Fuego” or fire, I felt life in my achy, sweaty, dirty veins.  I’m sadly overweight and prone to migraines, but each day I knew that I had a purpose.

And I was not alone.  For the first time in more than two years I was surrounded by new friends every moment of every day.  Community.  We were not created for isolation.  In the villages I found a new meaning to community.  These beautiful people had more community than I’ve ever known.  It wasn’t just a matter of meeting with your neighbors for coffee; it was so much more than that.  They were dependent on each other for the very necessities of life.  I’ve never personally experienced that level of poverty and I’ve never been blessed with level of joy.

To Be Continued…….

Who can take it along?

“[Treasures in Heaven] “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 NIV

Treasures on earth.  Big house(s), big shiny cars, lots of “stuff”.  Earthly comforts that we as members of the “civilized” world feel entitled to.  We strive for it from the day we get our first paycheck.  Television shows about constant remodeling and upgrading certainly don’t help me in this area.

My parents were raised in the depression era.  They are very frugal and as a result are now quite comfortably retired.  Growing up though, I saw this as a major drawback.  Having been told by some girls during my Jr. High years that I could no longer be friends with them because my family didn’t have enough money didn’t help that.  I’ve spent the majority of my life trying to prove them wrong.  Child-ish I know, but it’s still there buried in my accumulated pain.

My husband’s family lived very modestly as well.  They lacked for nothing overall, but he could still feel that tug to have more.  He spent his life being an over-achiever to reach his target of more.

When you combine these two personalities you come up with a “More Mentality” out of control.  We had the big vacation home in AZ, we had two shiny (used) Jaguar cars.  We always planned for bigger and better, regardless of the debt.  Just weeks before Larry was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, we’d been strategizing ways to get “enough” for him to be able to retire early.   We could always justify our extravagance by our giving.  We weren’t stingy with the money God had blessed us with, so surely God must want us to have all of this, right?

That all changed so quickly.  One day life was going on as normal.  The next day our world fell apart.  All of our “more” meant nothing.  There was no way that our vacation home could make the cancer go away.  The cars became nothing more than a way to get to daily radiation treatments.  All of the money quickly flew out the window.  We discovered very quickly that all of these earthly treasures were useless.  The only treasure we had in the end was our relationship with Jesus.  For Larry, this relationship was everything!  For me, it was my sole source of comfort.

People remember Larry for many different things, but they all remember his extraordinary faith.

Where are your treasures?

Lose My Soul ~ Toby Mac