Who believes what we've heard and seen? Who would have thought God's saving power would look like this? The servant grew up before God—a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field. There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look. He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered, who knew pain firsthand. One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum. But the fact is, it was our pains he carried— our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us. We thought he brought it on himself, that God was punishing him for his own failures. But it was our sins that did that to him, that ripped and tore and crushed him—our sins! He took the punishment, and that made us whole. Through his bruises we get healed. We're all like sheep who've wandered off and gotten lost. We've all done our own thing, gone our own way. And God has piled all our sins, everything we've done wrong, on him, on him. He was beaten, he was tortured, but he didn't say a word. Like a lamb taken to be slaughtered and like a sheep being sheared, he took it all in silence. Justice miscarried, and he was led off— and did anyone really know what was happening? He died without a thought for his own welfare, beaten bloody for the sins of my people. They buried him with the wicked, threw him in a grave with a rich man, even though he'd never hurt a soul or said one word that wasn't true. Still, it's what God had in mind all along, to crush him with pain. The plan was that he give himself as an offering for sin so that he'd see life come from it—life, life, and more life. And God's plan will deeply prosper through him. Out of that terrible travail of soul, he'll see that it's worth it and be glad he did it. Through what he experienced, my righteous one, my servant, will make many "righteous ones," as he himself carries the burden of their sins. Therefore I'll reward him extravagantly— the best of everything, the highest honors—Because he looked death in the face and didn't flinch, because he embraced the company of the lowest. He took on his own shoulders the sin of the many, he took up the cause of all the black sheep.
Isaiah 53 (The Message)
It's amazing how God will speak to us through his word, giving us exactly what we need in that moment, if we will just make the time for Him. Isaiah 53 was my scheduled reading for today. Well, actually yesterday. I'm a day behind. But God is not limited by the fact that I'm behind!
I became extremely frustrated with my kids this morning. The arguing, rolling eyes, complaining, and general lack of respect left me overwhelmed by the injustice of it all! My self pity tape began playing in my head. "After everything I do for these children, they still treat me disrespectfully and fail to obey me on a regular basis. I love them, I feed them, I bathe them, I teach them, I bless them with opportunities, and I sacrifice my own desires for them. I've given my entire life for them.......and this is what I get in return!" My hurt and frustration led me to tears. They started as tears of hurt and self pity. The tears of an underappreciated, underrespected mother. But as I sat there, my tears changed from those of a self pitying mother to those of a sorrowful, disobedient child. A wave of grief flooded over me as I was filled with the knowledge that I have done this very thing to my God. "God, is this what if feels like for you? Ofcourse it's not! I have 3 children, and you have nearly 7 billion. What must it be like to have so many children who fail to appreciate you and honor you for who you are and what you've done for them!"
And then I remembered my Jesus. I remembered how people disrespected him, ridiculed him, beat him and spit on him. I remembered how they nailed his beaten body to a cross after stripping him of all of his clothing and dignity. And he loved them. As they beat him, he loved them. As they spit on him, he loved them. As they cursed him and mocked him, he loved them. And with this crazy, relentless love he saved me from my enemy. The enemy who whispers in my ear that I deserve to be "paid back" for all that I've done for my children. The same enemy who tells me that all of my many sacrifices should be noticed and appreciated by all who benefit from them! The enemy that tries to fool me into thinking that if I yell at them and show them who's boss...then they'll obey. Then they'll respect me. What a liar he is.
I maintain that my children need to learn to be respectful and obedient, for their own sakes and as practice for how they should respect and obey God. And I will continue to impress these things on them, hopefully with the same grace and patience that my Father extends to me. But I realize now that it is not something they owe me. It is not something that I deserve - "Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others. Your attitude should be the same as that of Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." Phillipians 2
So I will continue to love them, and bathe them, and teach them, and feed them, bless them with opportunities, and sacrifice my own desires for them......because that's what He does for me.