After being “Rescued by Mercy,” I’ve wanted to help others know that God longs to restore us to fellowship with himself, to spiritual and emotional health. Last month, I began posting articles about God’s mercy (see March14 & March 21 in archives). In this 3rd segment of the series, we will continue discussing the Biblical Isaiah’s messages about God’s mercy.
Can you sense in the following scripture that God’s heart is broken? “For the LORD speaks: ‘I raised children, I brought them up, but they have rebelled against me! An ox recognizes its owner, a donkey recognizes where its owner put its food; but Israel does not recognize me, my people do not understand.'” (Isa. 1:1-3, NET).
The children God is heartbroken over are not toddlers who keep falling down because they can’t help it. He has raised them. They should know better because the most loving father in the whole universe has taught them for many years. They should know by now they can trust him but they don’t. Because they don’t trust God, they rebel and go their own way.
Isaiah’s words are those of a man who lives intimately with the Lord God Almighty, the “Holy One of Israel.” He knows how God feels. He tries to reason with the people who have rebelled and are now suffering the consequences: “Why should you be beaten anymore? Why do you persist in rebellion? Your whole head is injured, your whole heart afflicted,” (Isa. 1:5, NIV). Their consequences are not God’s fault. He tried to warn them that the only safety was in obedience. God wants them to repent and return to him so he can keep them safe, yet, instead of responding to his love, they blame God, thinking he is being mean to them.
Have you ever felt emotionally beaten, injured, afflicted?
I have … more than thirty-four years ago… Problems beat me down. Worry, loneliness, guilt-feelings, fear, confusion all contributed to stress that felt like a mountain crushing my heart. It was my own fault. My problems were consequences of my own disobedience. Like Eve in the Garden of Eden, after Satan had worn away my resistance I’d yielded to temptation and ‘picked forbidden fruit.’ My life was a mess. I was injured and afflicted as Isaiah says, and desolate because of my own rebellion. I was also devastated at what I’d done.
Then I went to a Basic Youth Conflicts Seminar. I learned that God loved me in spite of my sin and, like Isaiah says, he was calling me back to himself. I was astounded by his mercy. During the seminar, I began to ‘see’ the heart of God as broken over my sin. Yet, instead of his focus being on my sin of adultery, God’s focus seemed to be on long-standing attitudes I didn’t realize I had. I’d been a Christian since the age of 9 and thought I’d been a ‘good girl’ and a wonderful young wife and mother. But now, at the age of 39 and after a divorce which I had thought was my husband’s fault, I became convicted by God of self-righteousness, bitterness, and judgmentalism.
Seeing my heart the way God sees it, although it was not pleasant, was the beginning of the rescue.
—by Judith Vander Wege
(to be continued, hopefully each week.)