Isaiah 9 is one of my favorite passages in the entire Bible. Just hearing the verse:
“The people walking in darkness
have seen a great light;
on those living in the land of deep darkness
a light has dawned.” Isaiah 9:2
sends shivers up my spine. Shivers of anticipation that God has done something incredible, is doing something incredible, and will do something incredible.
That which was dark is now light, that light dawns in the harshest of places.
As I begin my advent journey this year, God has led me into the book of Isaiah. A book that is full of both fear and hope, anticipation and dread. A book that shines light into dark places of which we might not even be aware. But the light does shine.
This advent I’m exploring the four names of this child that has been born to us, the son that is given to us. It’s part of me letting God shine the light into those dark places, and to replace the fear with hope. To let the still small voice of the God of the universe ring in my ears.
As I dig deeper into these four names for Jesus, throne names, names that tell us not so much Jesus’ name, but who he is and what he means to us and the world.
Each of these names has two elements, a description word and a word that describes Jesus’ position among us.
But it’s not enough just to know the names. Part of this journey is to explore what God wants to do in us this season. To see and be available, to be willing to change, to anticipate the work and surprises that God is going to do in our lives.
But availability can be hard. Because this is the season for plans, for knowing, for doing.
And I’m a planner. I like long-term goals and systems, ways of doing and being that make sense.
And it’s this part of me, this part of me that God created and rejoices in that can come into conflict with what he wants to do in my life.
Jesus is the person who fulfills the prophecies of the line of David. He’s the ultimate king, the one seated on the throne for eternity. He is the beginning and the end.
When I look at what Isaiah meant when he described Jesus as Wonderful Counselor, I see a Jesus who has the whole world in his hands. His scope and range, his knowledge and wisdom, all of these are boundless.
A king who was a counselor determined and carried out the plan of action. They were the ones who needed to be far-seeing, know what no one else knew, was far-reaching and far-seeing.
Jesus is the ultimate planner.
During Isaiah’s time, the people of Israel were afraid. They were afraid of what was going on in their world. They were afraid of attack. They were trying and planning to be safe, to cover all their bases. They lived in a constant state of attack and fear.
But there was hope. Threaded through the prophecies of judgement was the thread of hope. No matter what happened, there was always a but.
You may feel destroyed, but there will always be a remnant.
You may be afraid, but the Messiah is coming.
You may feel like there’s no way back to God, but his face will always turn back to you in forgiveness.
Because Jesus knows our beginning and our end.
He knows our past, present and future.
There is nothing that is coming, has come, that he does not enfold within his plan.
And no matter what situation we’re in, there’s always a way to him.
Reflection for the Week
Let’s take time this week to do some self-examination. Where in our lives are we afraid? Afraid of the future? Afraid of the unknown?
Are there places in our lives where we’re excluding God from our plans?
Are there ways that we have forgotten God goodness and intervention in our lives?
Take time to reflect on places and situations in your past where God has moved in seen and unseen ways.
Where has he, in his goodness, protected you, loved you, carried you, taught you, corrected you?
Let him speak into the current situations in your life where you need his guidance and intervention. Seek his counsel. His wonderful and perfect counsel.
Carol of the Week – People look East
Liturgical Readings for the week of November 29
Daily Readings from Watershed Church’s Vade Mecum (I was honored to be a part of their 2015-2016 season. Some of my devotionals come during the Advent Season)