Isaiah 58 loosens something in my heart. Perhaps something very American that cries "YES, FREEDOM!" Rather than the sad commercials evoking pity ... trickle your coffee money down so I can simply have something to eat ... I want to beat my chest and stand arm in arm with the oppressed. Do not bend to shame! Straighten your back, jut out your jaw, and stand firm knowing that God hears you and He sent me and others like me.
But the other side of the American spirit is much like the Israelites Isaiah 58 is speaking to ... living out the letter of a fast while not accomplishing what God intended the fast to accomplish. I don't want to pat myself on the back for following the "rules" ... I want God to guide my heart to allow what He intended obedience to Him to bring about.
“"Cry loudly, do not hold back; Raise your voice like a trumpet, And declare to My people their transgression And to the house of Jacob their sins. "Yet they seek Me day by day and delight to know My ways, As a nation that has done righteousness And has not forsaken the ordinance of their God. They ask Me for just decisions, They delight in the nearness of God. 'Why have we fasted and You do not see? Why have we humbled ourselves and You do not notice?' Behold, on the day of your fast you find your desire, And drive hard all your workers. "Behold, you fast for contention and strife and to strike with a wicked fist. You do not fast like you do today to make your voice heard on high.”
Isaiah 58:1-4 NASB
Oh how I want to do that. I feel like God is stirring something up in my but I'm not yet sure what. At the moment it is like a swirling whirlwind, a spinning top, and images flash by of the oppressed. He knows the reality of my season of life. I will wait and trust Him to stoke the fire in me and show me what His plan is.
The precipice of adventure. I feel like I'm standing at the trailhead of a hike into the wilderness. Only instead of a pack full of a week's worth of provisions and a tent, I have His word. Instead of hoisting a canoe over my shoulders, I have two very young girls.
The temptation is to congratulate us on raising them on His Word and say that is my work for now. It is! But I will not use it as an excuse. God would not call me to something He won't give me the strength to do. So instead of saying that I will do something in the future, when they are older, or say that I just can't right now ... I will open my hands and my heart to Him and say that though I don't see how I can I know that He has a plan for that too. In fact, on Sunday mornings we have been studying Pete Wilson's "What Keeps You Up at Night: How to Find Peace While Chasing Your Dreams" and I have been praying as he suggested on page 65:
"Ask Him to give you something so God-sized - something so big that if He isn't in it, it's destined to fail."
As American as the cry in my soul for freedom feels, doing anything destined to fail is not very American. We are accustomed to having plan A, plan B, plan C, and insurance to cover worst case scenarios. My American experience has been to have no knowledge of the pain and unfairness inflicted on someone else so I can enjoy the lifestyle that I have. But when I know better I want to do better:
“I did then what I knew how to do. Now that I know better, I do better.” - Maya Angelou
I don't want to turn a blind eye and pat myself on the back for what I am doing. Lord please open my eyes to the oppressed all around me. Then show me what to do. Make me a repairer of the breach and a restorer of the streets.