The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me, because the Lord has anointed me to bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified. Isaiah 61:1-3
Earlier this week, I referenced a “kingdom come, Thy will be done” – moment that came from the movie Patton. It was so potent it seemed prophetic to me. I will share it again in light of today’s passage;
Patton: (intensely introspective) “I’ve always felt that I was destined for some great achievement, what I don’t know.”
Aid: “Yes, sir.”
Patton: (musing – with GREAT pathos) “The last great opportunity of a lifetime – an entire world at war, and I’m left out of it?!”
Patton: (with GREATER passion still) “God WILL NOT permit this to happen!”
Patton: (and finally, with VIOLENT resolve) “I WILL be allowed to fulfill my destiny!”
Patton: (with deep reverence as if this has now become a settled matter in the cosmos) “His will be done.”
I recall a season a few years ago when I regularly attended church and was heavily invested as an elder in nearly everything it did. And yet….I felt as though I was a benchwarmer in the grand scheme of things. How could this be?! I preached. I taught. I led worship. I administrated. I tried to share my angst with my co-elders but I discovered what we had then was a failure to communicate. I was driving these poor men crazy and I was mad with them because they were returning the favor. Looking back, I better understand what was going on. I didn’t know it then but I was learning a different language and becoming more fluent in it as I interacted with others (outside my immediate church family) who assured me that I was not crazy. (Oh these precious souls!)
One day I got a call from an internationally known speaker and author. With my international network, hampered as it was by my city limits, my response was, “WHO?!” He said a mutual friend had suggested we make contact. “WHAT?!” Putting it mildly, I was all ears. The conversation deepened quickly. I had found someone who was listening and understood. My angst spilled out; “WHY?!” It was like an out of body experience. I heard myself just going on and on about my flirtation with insanity. As I blabbed I recall thinking, “Would somebody please shut this guy (being me) up!”
Strangely though, my VIP caller would respond at the end of each cathartic burst, “Excellent.”, “Oh that’s superb!”, “Oh yes, this is sweet.” His bizarre responses made me wonder if he wasn’t the crazy one! I finally said, “You don’t understand. I”m loosing my flipping marbles!” He assured me (or he tried to) that all was better with my soul than I perceived. He said we needed to get together face to face. What would you say, “Well…let me pray about this and I’ll get back to you?” Not me. I was not turning down people at that time who were giving me hope of my sanity, especially not if the hand being extended was from a true spiritual father. My flights were booked immediately. (Speaking of flight) I pledge to get this one back to our passage. Even now, we are entering a steep banked turn.)
I must fast forward through my time with this prestigious saint and say that he was part of a corp of men (and women) whose council and prayers assured me that God was in the midst of my circumstances. (Oh these precious people!) This season of blessed disorientation has radically impacted my heart. I am no longer driving my co-elders crazy although I did unintentionally wound some of them as I was trying to keep my marbles in one basket. And, I no longer feel like a benchwarmer or a sideline observer.
General Patton frustrated his superiors but he knew who he was – a man who was born for such a time as that. His exploits are now legendary and he indeed made an essential contribution in defeating Nazi Germany. Jesus frustrated the religious experts too but knew He was. He was not going to be deterred from his mission ……
….. to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to captives and freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all who mourn, to grant those who mourn in Zion, giving them a garland instead of ashes, the oil of gladness instead of mourning, the mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting.
After processing my inner storms and ending up with a settled understanding of who I was as a beloved son of God and a friend, I too found myself almost militantly reclaiming my destiny which was not ministry per se. It was to simply live life where God had strategically placed me. My ultimate contribution to the great battle is yet unknown but I know this, you and I are on the front lines every day we get out of bed and our mission is simply to learn to live in Christ who is our life. If we do this, it will one day be said of us….
They bound up the brokenhearted. With their lives, they demonstrated liberty to prisoners of religious bondage. They showed that God was always favorable to heal, to save and deliver. To those that mourned over the kingdom of God, they supplied joy which fueled an awakening of God’s life on this earth that resulted in gladness, joy and praise.
Father, may we be a generation with ears to hear just how favorable are each of the moments you entrust us with. May you expose and deliver us from all of the lies (however sacred we believe them to be) which keep us glued to the pews. Establish our identities and commission us afresh as kingdom sons and daughters. May our legacy be akin to your own as catalysts to the Father’s never ending kingdom. So be it.