Isaiah 12:1-2 (Amplified)
And in that day you will say, I will give thanks to You, O Lord; for though you were angry with me, Your anger has turned away, and You comfort me. Behold, God, my salvation! I will trust and not be afraid, for the Lord God is my strength and song; yes, He has become my salvation.
Salvation (dictionary.com): 1. the act of saving or protecting from harm, risk, loss, destruction, etc. 3.a source, cause, or means of being saved or protected from harm, risk, etc.
Recently a friend and I were discussing the challenge of setting healthy boundaries in life. Understanding how and having the courage to lovingly but truthfully share our heart with others. Learning that we are not responsible for the reactions of others in life can be very freeing. But super hard. I mean super. Smile…
As I sit on my porch this already humid July morning, I pause to lift up a dear friend to Jesus. Not sure exactly what to pray even…just aware that she needs to hear His voice today. I look up the reference in my devotional for Isaiah chapter 12 and my heart is touched by this idea that God has become strength, song and salvation. I think about my recent conversation and how God wants to give us freedom. Real freedom.
If you have been moving and shaking in “church-world” for any length of time you might be somewhat numb to the word salvation. If you read this post as a doubter or possibly a seeker of Jesus, you might be turned off by the word salvation…your mind conjuring up thoughts of old white men holding really thick leather Bibles screaming at the sinners with sweat dripping down their brow. Yikes! No really, yikes!
My favorite parts of the definition above are a) saving and protecting from loss and destruction and b) a source of saving and protecting. In church-world we take for granted this idea of our salvation meaning we are saved from Hell, or eternal separation from God. We let this truth jingle in and out of our lives sometimes like change in our pockets. I mean, I do it, too. It’s hard to really absorb Hell. Who wants to think about Hell?! Now Heaven, yes. I like to sometimes think about what it will be like to kneel at His feet…look into His eyes…realize the culmination of every hope, every step forward, every seed of faith I am living out now.
What about now, though? Isaiah chapter 12 talks about God becoming strength, song and salvation. Something about the way its written…has become my salvation touches my heart this morning. See, even those of us who cling to salvation in eternal terms sometimes lose sight of Jesus becoming our strength, song and salvation now. Our “source” for strength and a song in life might be something or someone besides Creator. Instead of God becoming more and more our source for strength, song and protection in this life from loss and harm and destruction, our view, experience and perspective of Him can become stagnant. One dimensional. A look back on sweeter days. Circumstances, pressures and our own internal issues can drown out the song. Our strength is tapped out because the source is truly our own personal drive for acceptance, validation and self-preservation. Whoa. Goodness, I know. But the reason I can write this is because I have lived it. I’m still walking this journey out and learning that there is only one source for rock-solid strength and stability. One source for a life filled with God-song. One source for salvation, this saving and protecting from harm, risk and destruction. The question is, every day, who or what is my source?
That conversation I mentioned at the top? As we were talking I kinda got off on a tangent. Shocking, to be sure! Smile. But you know what came pouring out of me? Because I have experienced it first-hand? Jesus being my strength, song and salvation for my here-on-earth life as well as eternity will not happen merely on a Sunday morning pew (or chair). No matter how great the pastor, how awesome the church, or how faithfully we attend or serve, this kind of life-changing, heal-my-heart and make me free kind of living is a Monday through Saturday intimacy with Jesus. Okay, so intimacy with God. Whaaaat?? All this means is revealing our heart to our Maker. The most rewarding and satisfying relationships we have in life are the ones in which we have complete permission to be ourselves. We don’t have to wonder about being judged or hiding our flaws. There is intimacy…honesty…acceptance. Many of us find it hard to let our guard down with other humans, so it may take practice doing it with a God you can’t see with your eyes or hear with your ears. And yet purposefully opening our hearts and talking with Him will affect our lives like nothing else. Church attendance alone can’t do it. Good books and podcasts alone can’t do it. Serving and pouring every ounce of energy and time into church projects can’t do it. Even reading your Bible, without the back and forth of talking and listening to God, can’t do it. What I’m asking, again, is who or what is our source?
Seems too easy, I guess. I would have said the same and so for years and years I tried to incorporate all of the “church-world,” performance oriented aspects into my attempts at strong-song living. It wasn’t until I realized what a spiritually prideful, judgemental person I truly was that I began to break in a way that allowed God to start clearing debris from the hard-worn ruts of striving in my life. Like yesterday I remember staring out of a window in my living room at the other houses on my street. I had been so cautious and even fearful of letting my oldest daughter play with neighborhood kids. But what God showed me in those moments was how prideful I really was. Underneath my seemingly protective and loving mothering was the ugly truth of judgement, not love. I thought I was a better mom. Was raising better kids. My marriage had been ugly for a time and yet I hung in there and stayed married! Here I pause. Because it’s humbling, even now, for me to write that. I was so wrong. Jesus had a lot of work to do in me so I could see not only others with the light of His loving truth, but myself, as well. My source was my willingness and ability to perform, meet expectations, and gain approval. My relationship with God was not a safe place for intimacy with my Creator, a place to be filled and healed, receive strength and a song. No, my relationship with God was more a place where I went for a check-up. How am I doing? How am I measuring up?
I’m still on this journey. It lasts until I do in fact kneel at His feet and look into His eyes of fire. But every day that my heart cries out for real strength, a vibrant life-song and protection from destruction and harm, sometimes at my own hands, I have to choose my source. I can learn to slip into His strong arms of love and let Jesus lead the dance or I can breathlessly chase a faint melody I hear in my own striving and performance.
How amazing to find Him on my front porch any day of the week I will take the time to sit down with Him. He already has the music going. Has something to tell me. Jesus listens to my heart. The in’s and out’s of my everyday life. In the seemingly insignificant as well as monumental Jesus is there if I turn to Him. Let Him be my forever Salvation.