It’s 6:15 a.m. I forgot it was my turn to Blog until very late last night. So I am up, searching for my Bible, hooking up the internet card, etc. And now, as I finish writing, I am so glad I didn’t “remember” and write this yesterday – because I never would have reached on my shelf for an old Bible to look up today’s Scripture. Please bear with me – this is a bit long… The Scripture will come later. I read today’s Scripture in my “current” Bible (which is The Message version) and I wanted to see what the NIV said. So I pulled out another Bible which I had been using about 12 years ago. I opened up to today’s reading of Isaiah 40:27-31 and noticed lots of notes in the margins I had written at the time. I regularly write down the dates and circumstances in the margins of my Bible, and then years later, it’s like re-reading a journal – remembering what I was doing the last time I had read that portion of the Word and how God was using it to talk to me at that time in my life.
I would like to share with you this story about Isaiah 40 as it unfolded for me that day almost 12 years ago. In the margins surrounding Isaiah 40, I see that I had been in Rio Bravo, Mexico on a Mission Trip with Point of Grace. My biggest fears about this trip were: #1 Going to the bathroom, and #2 The heat. Sadly, I wasn’t concerned about “winning souls for Jesus” or “being a Light.” No. My fears were all about me and my comfort.
I need to explain more about the bathroom rules on this mission trip to Mexico in case you haven’t been. No flushing of paper. Put all paper in a trash can. Add 110 degree heat. Hold your nose – do your business – and get out of there as fast as possible.
We arrived past dark, were led to our accommodations. The women were to sleep in a large room above a restaurant. We were led up some outside stairs which is over the top of the bathroom which has an outside door under the stairs. The stench was horrible. ”Oh, no, God,” I whined to myself. “Oh, no.” My heartbeat started accelerating. I was worried. (See fear #1)
We put our sleeping bags on the floor. There was quite a bit of whining and complaining about how hot it was. (See fear #2) We looked up at the ceiling – there was a ceiling fan – but it didn’t work. The blades had “melted” from the heat of the room and were hanging down, bent over like a wilted plant. Much whining followed. Someone shouted, “Hey look at all the windows!” We opened them – not that there was any breeze. The Landlady yelled up at us, “Close those windows! This is not a safe neighborhood – you can’t open them like that!” Much more groaning and complaining.
Lights out. Sweaty bodies. And I have got to go to the bathroom. (See fear #1) So does my very sweet Mother who was on the trip – her first mission trip ever! She decides to brave the smell and go down to the bathroom. She whispers, “I can’t stand it any more. I have to go to the bathroom. Do you need to go, Dawn?” “Me? Um no…. you go ahead though.” “Are you sure?” “Yeah, I am sure.” “Do you want to come with me?” “Um, not really.” So, my mother goes by herself! And compassionate me doesn’t even go with her! I decided to wait until morning! (What a servant heart, huh?)
Somewhere in the middle of the night, we awaken, realizing that people had crawled into their sleeping bags – because it was so COLD! There was air conditioning in that building!!! What?
And you won’t believe it – while there was thankfulness – there was also some whining about how cold we were! (And we can’t believe how the children of Israel whined about manna and quail and water???)
The next morning I awaken to a beautiful day. Now I can see what this place looks like. I can face my fears (and a bursting bladder) and go to the bathroom in the daylight. No smell! Clean as a whistle! No bugs! No rats! No smelly trash can! (After all, that is what I was imagining the night before.) We soon learn that the smell from the night before was buckets of garbage scraps in the alley from the restaurant – waiting for the trash service to come and haul it away.
And then that morning devotion was from Isaiah 40:27-31 which is the same Scripture we are to read today.
Isaiah 40:27-31 (The Message)
Why would you ever complain, O Jacob, (O Dawn) or, whine, Israel, saying,
“God has lost track of me.
He doesn’t care what happens to me”?
Don’t you know anything? Haven’t you been listening?
God doesn’t come and go. God lasts!
He doesn’t get tired out, doesn’t pause to catch His breath.
And He knows everything, inside and out.
(including heat and bathrooms)
He energizes those who get tired, gives fresh strength to dropouts.
For even young people tire and drop out,
young folk in their prime stumble and fall.
But those who wait upon God get fresh strength.
They spread their wings and soar like eagles,
they run and don’t’ get tired,
They walk and don’t lag behind.
I sat in that beautiful wooden pew and just bawled. And here are the notes in my margin surrounding this passage of Scripture that God was giving me – delivering me – taking care of me in a strange, different land…
“Rio Bravo. So ashamed of myself. Like the Israelites whining and doubting. So hot and weak. I am not used to this heat. I need relief. God had a plan for me – A/C! But when I got here it was so hot – I doubted and was worried. The Bano I thought was disgusting was just slop buckets. Stubborn. Refused to go to the bathroom. After an hour the AC cooled the room- people were under blankets! I doubted God. I was afraid to go to the bathroom. And all along it wasn’t even bad. It was the buckets. I did not trust. God always cares. He was taking care of me all along – with a clean bathroom and A/C. (See Fear #1. See Fear #2)
And in my Bible I use currently, is a note next to Isaiah 40:27-31 that says, Psalm 98:3
“He remembered to love us, a bonus to His dear family, Israel – INDEFATIGABLE love!"
Now that’s a cool word - indefatigable. His love never quits. Even in Rio Bravo 12 years ago. Even today, Dec 13, 2012.
How about you? Can you remember times in your life you had fears – and God already had those figured out – like bathrooms and A/C? We would love to hear your testimony to His goodness!