As a visitor at a church service some years ago, I watched as the reader marched up to the platform with an air of confidence to read an Isaiah portion from the large pulpit Bible. It had been placed on the lectern moments earlier in a triumphal opening procession called "The Entrance of the Word". She announced the text to the congregation and then searched for the page. She couldn't find it. Frantically, she flipped back and forth through the large pages. Finally, she gave up.
Then, in a confused daze, she turned from the lectern and paced back and forth across the platform. As I watched this impromptu drama unfold, I wondered how Isaiah, one of the biggest books, could be so hard to find. Mercifully, the organist handed her a Bible opened to the passage. She read:
Isaiah 59:10 – Like the blind we grope along the wall, feeling our way like men without eyes. At midday we stumble as if it were twilight; among the strong, we are like the dead. (NIV)
I was astonished. I had just witnessed an unscripted visual aid for God's Word that morning. In a convicting sermon, the preacher remarked how they had lost their way and needed revival. His words felt like an arrow riveting me against the pew. Yet, when I looked around, I saw no sign of engagement, as if the people hadn't heard anything. Afterwards, it was the usual chit-chat. I left that elegantly upgraded facility finding myself empathizing with God's burden for a people who had silently resisted, as if saying:
Isaiah 30:11 – Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel! (NIV)
I never forgot that experience. It wasn't the dryness that primarily struck me; it was the relentless passion of God who works in such dry places:
Isaiah 65:2 – All day long I have held out my hands to an obstinate people, who walk in ways not good, pursuing their own imaginations. (NIV)
That day, God had tried to grab the attention of a small congregation, even staging a visual aid. I'm convinced that God often stages impromptu visual aids through the ordinary course of life, trying to get people's attention and hear Him say:
Isaiah 30:21 – Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, "This is the way; walk in it." (NIV)
How have you witnessed evidence of this promise in your own experience with spiritual decline — either personally or corporately? How have you heard God calling out in unexpected places, as "a voice from behind"? That's just what our God would do — the God who never relents in His passion to redeem the lost and draw His own to Himself. It's His covenant promise:
Isaiah 43:19a – See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland. (NIV)
Isaiah 29:24 – Those who are wayward in spirit will gain understanding; those who complain will accept instruction. (NIV)
Prayer: Lord, sensitize us to Your cry in the wasteland of our lives. Train us to turn our heads and listen for Your voice coming from behind, that we may gain understanding and walk in Your ways. Amen.
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