Monday, November 27, 2017

A remedy for spiritual complacency

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TODAY’S SPECIAL: Isaiah 64:1-12

“And there is no one who calls on Your name
Who stirs himself up to take hold of You;
For You have hidden Your face from us
And have consumed us because of our iniquities” - Isaiah 64:7

Isaiah’s concept of God was rooted in the fearful, awe-inspiring moments when God gave him a glimpse of Himself and eternal things. The account of this is in Isaiah 6, where he saw God on His throne. The train of His robe filled the temple. Angels, their faces veiled from God’s holy presence with wings, shouted across to each other “Holy, holy holy is the LORD God of hosts / The whole earth is full of His glory!” Then an earthquake shook the place and it filled with smoke.

Isaiah became exquisitely aware of his own pollution. He felt dirty, sinful, alarmed at his unworthiness, conscious of his foul mouth. Read the account in Isaiah 6:1-8.

In our reading this same Isaiah (now years later) rues the complacency of his fellow citizens: “… there is no one who calls on Your name, / Who stirs himself up to take hold of You.” God feels absent and the people live as if God can’t see them and may as well not exist.

But Isaiah knows better. Just because God doesn’t show Himself at their bidding doesn’t change anything about Him. And so his prayer is full of apologies and repentance on behalf of himself and the people: “But we are all like an unclean thing … We are the clay and You our potter … Do not be furious, O Lord, / Nor remember iniquity forever” - Isaiah 64:6,8,9.

This reminds me of something I read recently. David Kitz, in his book Psalms Alive tells (in the chapter on Psalm 32:6-7) the story of how he and his brother avoided a stalking cougar on their Saskatchewan farm because of the barking of their dog. He makes this application:
“In a peculiar way, an unexpected encounter with the living God can be a lot like an encounter with a cougar. Suddenly, we realize our every move has been studied and watched; we are not alone. And that other being out there, watching us, is much bigger and more powerful than we are. Are you really prepared to meet Him around the next curve in the road, or just over the next hill?” - Psalms Alive p. 72.

I don’t know about you, but I can become as spiritually complacent as Isaiah’s countrymen. As a result I fail to see and acknowledge God in my day-to-day. I want to resist that. You too?  Let’s “stir ourselves up to take hold of” Him. One way to do this is to become aware of what He is really like.

Dear Father, please forgive my frequent indifference and blasé attitude toward You. Please give me a glimpse of who You really are so that my relationship with You is rooted in fact, not some fantasy concocted by myself or those around me as to what You are like. Amen.

MORE: Francis Chan - Francis' Personal Testimony - Newday 2017

I recently watched a video in which Francis Chan tells some of his life story to a group of high school students in England. In it, he describes how Isaiah 6 impacted him: “Here’s what changed my life; when I understood reverence for God.”

Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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