Thursday, November 27, 2008

Thankful for the Meat of Things: The I AM

If Thanksgiving had fallen on the day Christ hung lifeless from the trunk of a tree driven into the hill of Golgotha I wonder for what Mary would have given thanks. If 9--11 had delivered it's death jets on Thanksgiving Day I can't help but ask what we would have thanked God for. But upon Thanksgiving's arrival today there are fresh winds and blueberry frosh skies. The sausage rice stuffing is prepared and the sweet potato souffle is waiting for it's turn in the oven. Coffee is brewed and the news seems somehow void of any major events--for this one day. Thanksgiving. For centuries we've honored this day as a day to stop, just stop, and be thankful. I've always been one that likes to look beneath all the fixings, the trimmings, the fluff if you will. Show me the roots, the meat, the core, the crux. Get to the bottom line. Often when my husband has something to share with me I'll stop him and request that he tell me the end of his story first so I know exactly where we're going--then he can fill it in with all the details and dare I say bunny trails that make his stories so unique. And I find myself this morning in the same place--just saying, Lord, if everything and everyone I know and love were gone, what then would I be thankful for? What Lord, are those who awake today in barren lands or with barren hearts to give thanks for? This morning in my quiet time I was reading Isaiah 40 and like an anthem God's Word heralded the core of my Thanksgiving Offering. (Follow along in Isaiah 40) For what, Sarah can you always be grateful though flowers wither and grass turns brown with autumns parching wind? For what, Sarah can you say thank you when people die and holidays are spent alone, when stomachs are empty and dreams are unthinkable? This, Sarah, be thankful for this. I AM Comfort. I AM the God who comforts my people. I speak kindly to my people. There will come a day when I will end their time of warfare, when punishment will cease. Clear a way for me, for my comfort. Out of the desert regions within your souls will you open a road for me? I AM Adonai. I will elevate the valleys and I will level the mountains and hills. I will take the rugged, ravaged places and make them a smooth plain on which you will stand. I will reveal my splendor and everyone will see it. Don't doubt this because of what you see. Believe it because I have decreed it. Don't you realize that people are no different than grass yet you cling to them? Imagine clinging to a blade of grass when the winds rise and the rains rail against the shell of your souls? You are clinging to nothing if you cling to people. And dare you cling to their promises? You might as well cling to the fragrant petals of a wild Cherokee Rose. Hold on tight, now. Your grass will become brittle and flake within your grasp, and your flower will wilt and melt into nothing more than its perfume. What then will you cling to? When you cling to my decrees, then you are clinging to hope. When I, the Lord decree something it is forever. Go now to the nearest mountain and cry out. Don't be afraid or embarrassed or ashamed to shout out my introduction. "Here is your God." Here is your God! I will tell you who I AM. I AM a victorious warrior. I AM sovereign--don't miss this. I AM sovereign--there is not a thing, NOT ONE SINGLE thing in your life that somehow slipped beyond my grasp. And I am a warrior whose military power is greater than every nuclear bomb and hidden stronghold in the world. Greater. And I AM a shepherd who does not neglect his flock. Do you understand me? I'll never neglect you. I will tend, I will gather, I will carry and I will lead, but I will never ever neglect my flock. I AM your Shepherd when you need me and when you don't. I'm still there. It is I who measured out the waters of earth in the very hollow of my hand and it was I who measured the sky with precision. I weighed the soil of the earth on which you toil and I hold the mountains and the hills in balance. Do you think gravity is merely a scientific term? You need to know that I invented, formed, created gravity--it is nothing more than the inhaling and exhaling of my power. Can you internalize what I am telling you? These are the decrees, the truths you hold to when skies are clear and when they are grey, and these truths will not change. No one teaches me. No one instructs me. I am never in need of assistance or directions. You will never find an accurate earthly comparison to me because there is NONE like me. No. Not even one! There will be those who seek the golden faces of some idol but in time they will discover it is silent when they cry out. In time they will discover it is still when they plead for help. In time they will discover it's heart is stone when their grief overwhelms them. But, I am the one who stretched out the sky like a curtain and it is I who pitched it like a tent above you. Can you see that I gave it to you like a picture of how my sovereignty covers your very life? I reduce rulers to nothing. There is no country or ruler that bares any significance apart from me. Don't you see that when you fear who will rule your nation I am calmly orchestrating the events on earth as they play out in the timeline of eternity? And if you thought for a brief moment that you could compare me to someone--maybe just some small resemblance I would call out to you, "Not even close. I am HOLY. I am set apart, different and unlike any other." It was I who created and named every heavenly light and there is not one that is missing though you may not see them. Now, tell me, created one, why is it that you say, "The Lord is not concerned with me?" Allow me now to tell you with emphatic intensity, "I AM concerned. I AM the eternal God, the Creator of the entire earth and I AM not tired. I AM not weary. There is no limit to my wisdom. And I AM concerned with you. I will give strength to those who are tired and I will renew the energy of the man who has become weak. There is no man or woman who will not one day find themselves weary or stumbling and I AM there. I AM present. I AM ready to give strength to those who wait for me. When you wait for my intervention it will be as if you were swept up into the heavens on the wingspan of the mighty eagle. Those who wait on the Holy God of Israel will run through the mountains and the hills and the valleys. They will walk without falling. This, child, this, is who I AM. And this, child, will not change. For this you can be grateful both today and tomorrow no matter what that day brings. And so when scripture exclaims, "This is your God" I respond with "Yes, this is my God. The I AM. And it is for Him that I offer thanks today." Amen. (And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours--may you offer thanks today for the meat of things.)


Julie said...

Sarah....Don't you just love Isaiah? It is one of my alltime favorite books. There is such meat in there...all over the place...

I hope you had a blessed Thanksgiving!


Stonefox (otherwise known as Heidi) said...

Sarah, I read this post and then read the one below and have to comment on IT! I just want you to get the comment, so I'm putting it here.

Anyway, I felt like the finger was pointed at me (in an uncomfortable but good way!). Yes, it is hard for me to take responsibility for my actions. Like when dinner isn't ready in time because I've wasted time. I want to say, "I was tired, etc, etc, etc..."

But the truth is that there are dire consequences to irresponsible behavior, be it dinner or something even greater. This post was really convicting and I thank you for sharing it.