Isaiah 49:13-18

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people, and will have compassion on his suffering ones. But Zion said, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” Can a woman forget her nursing child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. See, I have inscribed you on the palms of my hands; your walls are continually before me. Your builders outdo your destroyers, and those who laid you waste go away from you.

Lift up your eyes all around and see; they all gather, they come to you. As I live, says the Lord, you shall put all of them on like an ornament, and like a bride you shall bind them on. Isaiah 49:13-18

Through the years I have heard plenty of criticisms about congregations and their “edifice complexes.” Too much attention placed on buildings. Too much money spent on buildings. Too much ego gratification built into buildings. Yada Yada Yada. Well this morning I will offer one defense for church buildings (in addition to air conditioning): Building don’t move.

In good times and bad times, lean years and plentiful years, changes come and changes go, but church buildings don’t move.

Isaiah tells us that Zion cries out, “The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.” But that isn’t how it works. God, like church buildings, doesn’t move.

I don’t know who first said it but, at least according to my life experience, they were right – whenever we feel we are far from God, we can be fairly certain that we are the ones who moved. That was the case with the ancient people of Israel and their fascination with false gods and their inclination to disobedience and it remains the case with us today. When we feel we are far from God, we moved.

Psalm 139 tells us that we cannot get away from God. We cannot hide from God. We cannot escape from God. “If I ascend to heaven, you are there; if I make my bed in Sheol, you are there. If I take the wings of the morning and settle at the farthest limits of the sea, even there your hand shall lead me, and your right hand shall hold me fast. If I say, ‘Surely the darkness shall cover me, and the light around me become night,’ even the darkness is not dark to you; the night is as bright as the day, for darkness is as light to you.” Which also means there is nowhere we can go where God is not.

Jesus promised us in John 14 that he would not leave us orphaned. God doesn’t abandon us. God doesn’t forsake us. That isn’t how God rolls.

But sometimes it sure feels like it!

And in those times, and they can sneak up on us from every direction, we do well to stop and take a quick inventory of what is going on. Is a false god in our life inviting us to run away from the real one? Is a broken relationship or a bad diagnosis calling our name and taunting us that God has left us so why not just leave God? Is worldly tragedy making us question God rather than confessing the depths of human sin and depravity?

In all those times, just remember, like a church building, God doesn’t move. And unlike a church building, every one of which will one day be rubble, every day with God is brand new.

Let us pray: Gracious Lord, it seems that good times test our faith as powerfully as bad times. Any time can be a time for us to question your presence, your power, and your goodness. Come to us that we might come to our senses and trust that you are always right there, calling us home. In Jesus’ name. Amen.

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2 Responses to “Isaiah 49:13-18”

  1. Carolee Groux Says:

    Your lesson and text remind me of Will Thompson’s hymn
    “Calling Me Home”.

    Softly and tenderly Jesus is calling—
    Calling for you and for me;
    Patiently Jesus is waiting and watching—
    Watching for you and for me!
    Come home! come home!
    Ye who are weary, come home!
    Earnestly, tenderly, Jesus is calling,
    Calling, O sinner, come home!

  2. Sharon L. Says:

    Thank you for your devotions that God uses to ground us and speak to our hearts. Ever grateful, Sharon

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