Love Comes Down in Mercy

Who among you fears the Lord?

Who obeys the voice of His Servant?

Who walks in darkness

And has no light?

Let him trust in the name of the Lord

And rely upon his God.(Isaiah 50:10, NKJV)

Nick Vujicic

Nick posing here with my daughter,  just after he spoke at Kingdom Bound in 2014.

A few years ago, my family and I heard Nick Vujicic speak. Born at birth without arms or legs, Nick came to the stadium with his diminutive frame and large sense of humour, speaking with such authority and joy that an encounter with the Lord was inevitable.

Life without limbs is a tough reality for Nick.  Grimly, Nick recounted how, as a boy of eight, he would cry himself to sleep begging God to give him just one limb, let alone four, so he could have a life not dependent on the care of others, a life of normalcy like his siblings and peers. He considered suicide at ten, as despair and fear of his future consumed his thoughts.

Buoyed by the deep love of his family,  Nick slowly encountered the love of God despite his difficult childhood.  By fifteen, Nick surrendered to Jesus Christ, believing finally that God had a plan for his life, limbless and all.

In the past decade, with his TV appearance on Oprah, speaking engagements and numerous YouTube videos, Nick has reached over a billion people with his message of hope in Jesus Christ.  Over 500,000 plus people have encountered Christ because of this man’s surrender to a God who did not give him limbs to stand on nor arms to reach.

As I listened to Nick, I reflected on my life.  When I discovered I was pregnant with my daughter, I planned a teaching career yet it took five years before I gained entrance into teacher’s college.  When called to become a minister, I fast-tracked my theology degree so I could pastor, then fell ill to fibromyalgia within a few months on staff. My first fiance changed his mind three weeks before the wedding date.  My beloved husband shared his lifelong dream to run a farm business with me in 2009, so we built out five streams of income from the farm.  Despite the huge learning curve, organic farming was very rewarding. Unfortunately, we took a loss every year.  Six years later, we closed the business and sold the farm.

Perhaps you have watched your plans skewered by life events. Like the mothers who watched in horror as the Babylonians marched across Judah, with no ability to avert disaster, perhaps you have groaned in trauma when your children’s innocence was stolen or your mate left or the job ended abruptly.  Perhaps you prayed, worshiped and cleaved to all the good words of life spoken over you.  Yet when life still seared with pain, maybe like me and young Nick, you simply stopped reaching for a God who didn’t seem to hear the cries.

IMG_0816When trauma broken into our home, I desperately needed God to bring pain relief.  When I ached in the wilderness, I strained for God with deep discontent. Though I still attended church, lifting my hands in worship, within me, only fear, stress and anger had voice. Their shouts often deafened my faith.

Mercifully, God sent a man without limbs, packed full of joy, who boldly asked, “What is the one thing that is keeping you from believing God loves you?  Is it no legs?  No arms?  I have neither, yet I know God loves me.  Why don’t you believe God?  Why can’t you see that even though the big picture is hidden from you, God still has everything under His care?”

With passion and authority, Nick challenged us to count our losses and choose God anyways:  “What if God did give me arms and legs? When I would get to heaven, would I choose to see a city of believers or arms and legs upon my frame?  What do your dreams cost you?  A million souls have found God because of my limbless life. What can God do with your life, if you will give it to Him?”

God knew the Babylonian invasion would shred His children’s faith in His Goodness and He longed to comfort them. Hear God’s plea to His broken, frightened nation of Judah:

I, even I, am He who comforts you.

Who are you that you should be afraid

Of a man who will die,

And of the son of a man who will be made like grass?

And you forget the Lord your Maker,

Who stretched out the heavens

And laid the foundations of the earth;

You have feared continually every day

Because of the fury of the oppressor,

When he has prepared to destroy.

And where is the fury of the oppressor?

The captive exile hastens, that he may be loosed,

That he should not die in the pit,

And that his bread should not fail.

But I am the Lord your God,

Who divided the sea whose waves roared—

The Lord of hosts is His name.(Isaiah 51:12-15)

Confronted with my faithlessness by a man who could not even swat the flies that buzzed his face yet stood certain in Christ’s goodness, I shredded my list of offenses against God, deeply ashamed at the defensive walls I erected against Love Himself.

Dare we stand in worship of our King if we cannot see His hands?  Does life in God require such blind adoration?

Yes.

 

“And I have put My words in your mouth;

I have covered you with the shadow of My hand,

That I may plant the heavens,

Lay the foundations of the earth,

And say to Zion, ‘You are My people.’ ”(Isaiah 51:16)

2014-08-22 18.12.09As God’s people we are only asked to do one thing: believe in His goodness.  Mercifully, God reminds us of His constants of love, peace, mercy and kindness:

 For the mountains shall depart

And the hills be removed,

But My kindness shall not depart from you,

Nor shall My covenant of peace be removed,”

Says the Lord, who has mercy on you.(Isaiah 54:10)

Tenderly,  God gave us a Man who stretched wide across a cross, bled and died for all without honor, with tremendous suffering, just because He was the Only One Who could.

Compassionately, God offers us grace that despite our sin, through Christ, we are His sons forever:

Come to the waters;

And you who have no money,

Come, buy and eat.

Yes, come, buy wine and milk

Without money and without price.

Why do you spend money for what is not bread,

And your wages for what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

And let your soul delight itself in abundance.

Incline your ear, and come to Me.

Hear, and your soul shall live;

And I will make an everlasting covenant with you—

The sure mercies of David. (Isaiah 55:1-3)

Generously, God stoops down in love, as He patiently explains through Isaiah that though we can’t understand His ways, He will always let us return to His heart when we lose our way:

Seek the Lord while He may be found,

Call upon Him while He is near.

Let the wicked forsake his way,

And the unrighteous man his thoughts;

Let him return to the Lord,

And He will have mercy on him;

And to our God,

For He will abundantly pardon.

“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord.

“For as the heavens are higher than the earth,

So are My ways higher than your ways,

And My thoughts than your thoughts.(Isaiah 55:7-9)

Through Nick Vujicic’s heroism, I grasped God has a plan that is better than any plan we can conceive for our lives and tragedy is no excuse for forsaking my King.

God’s love and goodness is undeniable.

I trust Him past circumstance, past crisis, past any plans of my own making.

Today,  may we forget ourselves and choose to LIVE FOR HIM.

Let’s Pray:  Lord, when crisis crashes into life, some of us may stumble in blindness. Oh God, when we walk in darkness, intercept us with our King, that Your Light may break through our pain with the surety of  Your Love.  Father, fill us with faith and wisdom, to pursue Your heart more than our comfort or understanding. O Jesus, thank You for the cross of mercy which cost You everything and us nothing.  Holy Spirit would You lead us into truth of the  goodness of our God, that we would not miss the grace of fellowship of suffering nor the power of resurrection life through Christ. Amen.

This Week’s Reading: Isaiah 41-55

Next Week’s Reading:  Isaiah 56 – Jeremiah 4

Study Questions:

  1.  Think of a time when tragedy struck.  How did you handle it?  Who supported you?  Have you thanked God for that support?
  2. Why do you think God spent so much time offering comfort when the Israelite’s had spent so much time forsaking God?  Does the extravagance of God’s mercy make you uncomfortable?
  3. Isaiah 53 is the story of the Suffering Servant.  Look at your own times of suffering. How do they compare?  What does the fellowship of suffering with Christ mean to you?
  4. Paul talks about the dual reality of suffering and resurrection power as a disciple of Christ.  Do you experience this reality in your life?
  5. How does tragedy teach?  Have you learnt from suffering?  How does this help you identify with others in their suffering?