Sunday, January 1, 2006

what God wants to do

The Spirit of the Sovereign LORD is on me,
because the LORD has anointed me
to preach good news to the poor.
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
to proclaim freedom for the captives
and release from darkness for the prisoners,
2 to proclaim the year of the LORD's favor
and the day of vengeance of our God,
to comfort all who mourn,
3 and provide for those who grieve in Zion—
to bestow on them a crown of beauty
instead of ashes,
the oil of gladness
instead of mourning,
and a garment of praise
instead of a spirit of despair.
They will be called oaks of righteousness,
a planting of the LORD
for the display of his splendor.

--Isaiah 61:1-3

Years ago, when we were living in Barcelona, those words from Isaiah spoke powerfully to me, reminding me why God called me into ministry. God assured me: “I’ve given you a gift. Now use it. Preach to those who need to hear the good news. Comfort the broken. Proclaim freedom for those in bondage to sin. Shed light on those walking in darkness, aimless and confused. Tell everyone you can that God’s favor rests upon them because of the sacrifice of Jesus on their behalf. Concern yourself with the work of creating beauty. Replace the ashes of ruined lives with gladness and praise.”

Now, facing a new year, and the fresh challenge of starting another church, these words serve as a much-needed reminder of just what God wants my life to be about. And, seeing as we are starting a church called “Oasis”, the last sentence in this fragment of Scripture stands out to me: “They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of his splendor.”

Today, it’s as if God is telling me: “I will do it, you know. Don’t doubt. Believe. You simply concern yourself with preaching, binding, proclaiming, comforting, providing, and bestowing: good news, freedom, sight, beauty, gladness. I will take care of the rest: planting an oasis of immovable oak. I will do it, you know. Don’t doubt. Just believe. As impossible as it seems, I will do it. I will fulfill my purposes for you. I have called you to this. It is my purpose to do this through you. And I will fulfill my purposes. I always do.”

And yesterday, I read these words, on the eve of a new year. They brought me back to God’s purposes for me: “The LORD will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O LORD, endures forever—do not abandon the works of your hands.” (Psalm 138:8)

So, this day, January 1, 2006, I choose to hold on to the promise of Psalm 138. “The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me.”

And this day, I'm reminded once again what God’s purpose is for me. To preach good news to those who need it. And, through that, God will plant an oasis of oak trees that speaks a silent, yet sure message to the world that God is real and God is a refuge from the desert and God is life and God is great. God will do it. He will establish an oasis in the desert, a planting of the Lord for the display of his splendor.

Thank you, Lord, for this assurance, given on the eve of a new year.

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