Thursday, November 10, 2011

Grace in the Form of Yellows and Oranges


Originally posted on the RPCC Women's Ministry Blog.
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This past weekend I attended a retreat/conference in Wisconsin. After quite a few long weeks of work and the daily grind, I was looking forward to being out of the city, hearing good teaching, and spending time with old friends and the Lord. I did, in fact, sit in on some good sermons. But the one that struck the longest chord was based on Isaiah, Chapter59

Now, if you know anything about Isaiah 59, you know that it is a dark passage, definitely not the makings of a feel-good sermon. In an accusing tone, Isaiah paints a very bleak picture of Israel’s sin. He provides an illustration of the world’s wickedness, describing both natural and habitual sin. It’s a dark; things are bad and getting worse. All there is left to do is hope. And then we get a glimpse of something better to come--flickerings of the Lord at work.

The speaker described the scene as a canvas full of dark purples and browns, with Isaiah coming alongside the people saying, “Don’t worry; the Lord has some yellow and orange to come.” The beautiful thing is, we never appreciate or really see the “yellows and oranges” without all the dark, dreary mess underneath.
When I heard that, I about wept. The image clicked; my eyes opened. And the chapter wasn’t even over yet! I am not going to expound on the passage, I just want to share that visual. The deep, depressing mural of humanity, made beautiful by Light!

It’s amazing to see how the Lord speaks into our circumstances. I had been waiting and waiting for some sort of acknowledgement that I was not in this desert alone. I thought maybe a Psalm would speak to my heart or something from Romans or James. No, it took a dreary passage in Isaiah to remind me that God’s plan is one of redemption and justice; that we need to recognize the sin and depravity in our lives before we can even begin to understand His deliverance. It takes the evil and oppression of verses 1-15 for the judgment and salvation of verses 16-21 to make any sense.
Isaiah 59 closes with these words of promise: 

 20 “The Redeemer will come to Zion,
   to those in Jacob who repent of their sins,”
            declares the LORD.
 21 “As for me, this is my covenant with them,” says the LORD. “My Spirit, who is on you, will not depart from you, and my words that I have put in your mouth will always be on your lips, on the lips of your children and on the lips of their descendants—from this time on and forever,” says the LORD.
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