Growing up, I had a godly but imposing pastor, Dr Mekeel. We, in the church, revered and loved him like so many had over the years. The Dominie, as he was called by many of the congregation, had incredible Bible knowledge and love for the Lord. His preaching was well-known. His brilliance was quickly recognized by anyone who heard him preach. He loved young people and consistently pointed them towards ministry.
One of the rights of passage was attending his Sunday School class. He had taught a small class of college students for years. Using NO notes and a GREEK Bible was his usual way of teaching. Yes, he read English from the GREEK BIBLE! We sat in rows lined up in front of a giant wooden desk. He sat behind it and was bigger than life to me. The back row was the most coveted row of all. His class was highly intimidating in a good sort of way. I paid attention as much as possible for a very young, distractible college student.
Dr. Mekeel quickly determined he liked how I read. No matter where I sat, he would call on me whenever a Scripture was required. Each time he did, he commented on how much he liked the way I read. Something to do with my emphasis on certain words was his reason. This was, of course, a compliment on his part. At any moment, he would turn to me and say, “Anne, please read THE Scripture.” That may not seem scary, but it meant I needed to pay close attention to what was to be read. This responsibility put the “fear of God” in me. From time to time, I would get caught daydreaming and have to ask the dreaded question, “what Scripture did you want me to read?” That was over 45 years ago, and the thought of having to ask that question still makes me shudder and sweat a bit.
I have been meditating the past few days on Isaiah 40. It is a powerful passage describing God’s awesome power. Reading and rereading this passage has left me thinking about the awkward question Isaiah had to ask the Lord. In Isaiah 40:6, the Lord said to Isaiah, “Shout!” That was all, just simply, SHOUT! I imagine Isaiah may have been a bit like a deer in headlights thinking back to all the Lord had told him. Maybe he thought, “Did I miss something I should be shouting about? Have I been paying attention as Almighty God has spoken to me?”
Then Isaiah asks what seems like a difficult question, “What should I shout?” I feel for Isaiah. He was listening to God and wanted to follow Him and complete his assignment of prophesying no matter what the Lord told him to say, but he had no clue what he was to shout about. How hard it must have been for Isaiah to ask that question of the Lord. Not only was it hard because he was utterly clueless regarding the answer, but because he must have wondered, what if I am supposed to shout words that are another uncompromising and stern message for my people?
But Isaiah did ask, and the Lord answered with words that all of us must learn to accept; words relating to the brevity of life and the eternal sustainability of God’s word.
Isaiah wrote in chapter 40 the Lord’s answer. These words have become well-known words that comfort us and remind us that our mighty God is eternal and that we can trust the eternal truths found in the pages of Scripture. I am thankful that God’s word stands forever, with no wavering, no unfaithfulness, and no takebacks. What God says is the utter forever truth!
So, what are some things we can we learn from this passage?
First, we can learn that the Lord doesn’t mind our questions, especially about what he wants us to do and say. Simply ask, what now Lord?
Secondly, our relationship with the Lord is meant to be a two-way street; he wants us to listen and ask.
Thirdly, God is approachable and kind, and although we might consider him an austere and imposing figure, he is a good, good father, an Abba Father, ready to lead his children into all truth.
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