Isaiah 54:11-17 (the message)
“Afflicted city, storm-battered, unpitied:
I’m about to rebuild you with stones of turquoise,
Lay your foundations with sapphires,
construct your towers with rubies,
Your gates with jewels,
and all your walls with precious stones.
All your children will have God for their teacher —
what a mentor for your children!
You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness,
far from any trouble — nothing to fear!
far from any terror — it won’t even come close!
If anyone attacks you,
don’t for a moment suppose that I sent them,
And if any should attack,
nothing will come of it.
I create the blacksmith
who fires up his forge
and makes a weapon designed to kill.
I also create the destroyer —
but no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged.
Any accuser who takes you to court
will be dismissed as a liar.
This is what God’s servants can expect.
I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.”
These verses stir my heart so intensely this morning…Tears roll down my cheeks because I have lived as the “afflicted city, storm-battered” and I know with such certainty this post is for those whose lives are torn apart and ravished by struggle, pain and sin.
Is that you? Does your life lay in ruins? Is your past too much to bear? Is your current reality a withered and broken down whisper of what you hoped for? Are the choices you made afflicting you…are the regrets in your soul battering your heart and mind? Do you dream in color only to wake and find your days are gray with shadows of who you wish to be? Are you grasping for a new life that you feel helpless to build?
Listen to Creator speak to you: I’m about to rebuild you with stones of turquoise, lay your foundations with sapphires, construct your towers with rubies, your gates with jewels, and all your walls with precious stones. All your children will have God for their teacher — what a mentor for your children! You’ll be built solid, grounded in righteousness…
God wants to rebuild your city…your life…with a foundation beautiful and strong. He is quite extravagant, you know! And if you don’t know, hear the whisper of His gentle voice in your heart today. He longs to come into your life like the wind…blowing away the tumbleweeds of a soul-deserted city…raining down His love and grace in all the dusty, dry places of your heart…searching out the barren and forgotten dreams kept under lock and key…placing His nail-scarred hands over the hemorrhaging wounds that leak joy and peace and leave you hopelessly on the outskirts of abundant living. Ours is not a God of make-shift answers or half-way attempts. Ours is not a God of scotch tape and loose-knot living. He is solid rock. He is mountain-strong. He is ocean-deep. He is sure-footed and stable.
The fires of living, the ones we burn in day after day, in the end can melt off the false idea that we are able to build and create for ourselves the City On A Hill living that God promises. He is the architect. He is the contractor. He chooses the finest materials and sets out to work. He is the potter and we are simply the clay. You, my friend, are not meant to orchestrate your city…your life…and put together a blue-print of happiness for yourself. We all do…we all try…and eventually find ourselves the afflicted city, storm-battered by our failed plans and wasting away from disappointment and perhaps despair. Oh, that we as the created would embrace the Potter’s Hand. That we would willingly climb onto His wheel and let Him mold and create us…
“No weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged. Any accuser who takes you to court will be dismissed a liar. This is what God’s servants can expect. I’ll see to it that everything works out for the best.”
What part do we play in the rebuilding of our city? How do we enter into this transformation from ghost-town living to a glorious and real life, breathing and walking around display of His workmanship? See, my soul stirs with passion as I read the verse above! Do you hear the Architect? The Builder? He says no weapon that can hurt you has ever been forged! You may read that and think well many weapons have hurt me! But I want you to know that when you live on the Potter’s Wheel, when you surrender to a life of true God-serving, you are no longer your own. It is no longer your job to bear the burden of guarding your city walls…you no longer need to grasp and grope for answers to happiness or freedom from all that holds you down. You no longer need dig late into the night for springs of joy or unconditional love and acceptance. When God rebuilds you, He knows what you are made of. And He knows there is no weapon on earth that can damage what He created. The arrows will be shot. The fiery darts will come. The circumstances of life will threaten your city…but see there is no loss, no ailment, no abusive word or fist, no childhood trauma that can destroy the foundations of a city remade and remodeled on the Potter’s Wheel.
How does this work out in practical living?
Last week, my husband surprised me with a long weekend trip away to celebrate our 10th anniversary. He had everything planned and coordinated with all who would need to know I was to be gone. I was completely shocked. And as we drove away from our home and into this weekend together, it didn’t take long for my heart to offer up prayers of thanksgiving and adoration to the Builder of my city. See, I had someone so dear to me this week tell me how lucky I was and my heart hurt for her and I quickly told her I am not lucky. I know all about afflicted city-living. I know all about a storm-battered marriage. More than I’ll ever aptly describe on this blog. And I know, as I shared with my friend, that the only reason I now live in a marriage with sapphire foundations and ruby towers is because I climbed onto the wheel. My city gates and walls have been rebuilt with the jewels of Jesus-style humility and God-love. It was like chewing glass to climb onto the Potter’s Wheel. It was a crushing blow to my pride as I watched the Architect throw my blue-prints for marriage into the fire. I watched all I thought I deserved and my “rights” burn. And as I willingly lay down before Him, I felt afraid. What if this doesn’t work? What if I do things God’s way, what if I let Him redesign my city, and my needs don’t get met? What if…what if…what if…
Many turns on the wheel later, I enjoy a spectacular weekend with a man I am sincerely grateful to be married to. But see I am no longer the same. And I am no longer my own. I belong to the Potter. I am safe in His hands.
And He does amazing work.