Don't Be a RebelMarch 16th, 2017 | in Lent | 0
Nearly every time I participate in a fast, I read Isaiah 58, the “fasting chapter.” And every time, God shows me some new (to me, at least) truth and focuses my attention on some element of fasting on which I hadn’t previously dwelt. This time, it’s no different.
God tells His people, “You cannot fast as you do today and expect your voice to be heard on high” (58:4). He then explains the fast He has chosen, and it’s all about serving people in need and bringing His Kingdom to a hurting world.
Living in Niger, West Africa, one of the world’s poorest countries, it’s not hard to find victims of injustice, people who are hungry and oppressed, and poor wanderers. Frequently, my meditations have gravitated towards the verses focusing on how I should be treating such sufferers.
But this time, I didn’t get that far! God spoke in verse 1:
“Shout it aloud, do not hold back. Raise your voice like a trumpet. Declare to my people their rebellion and to the house of Jacob their sins.”
Perhaps because I’ve just done a Bible study that devoted a whole chapter to the sin of rebellion, the word "rebel" jumped out at me.
I never went through a “rebellious phase” in my teen years. I’m not the kind to solicit support among other employees to confront the boss, or among fellow church attenders to confront the leadership. I’m not a rebel, right? Wrong!
Rebellion is simply not doing what I know God wants me to do (or doing what I know He doesn’t want me to do).
James reminds us, “If anyone, then, knows the good they ought to do and doesn’t do it, it is sin for them” (4:17).
So, what do I know that God wants me to do?
- Love Him to start with (which I can’t do flawlessly because my pride always wants to steal some glory).
- Love my neighbour.
There are many other things, but I don’t have to go any further to see that I have already rebelled. I shudder to think of how many times I have stuck out my tongue in defiance in the face of the living God and said, “I’m doing this anyway!” Or, “No, I’m not doing that!”
But the beauty in this is that there is grace! When I come humbly to Him, confessing my pride, my rebellion, and asking Him to re-ignite my first love in my heart, He hears. He answers.
With the rebellion forgiven, my focus will be in the right place. I will be free to serve those who suffer.
“Then your light will break forth like the dawn, and your healing will quickly appear; then your righteousness will go before you, and the glory of the Lord will be your rear guard. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help and he will say: Here I am.…The Lord will guide you always; he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land and will strengthen your frame”
(Isaiah 58:8-9, 11).
How about you? Is there any rebellion sneaking its way into your heart that could turn your fast into simple religious activity, nothing more than “filthy rags” (Isaiah 64:6)?
Don’t beat yourself up about it; instead, acknowledge it before your Lord, make your true confession, and watch Him turn your shade of rebellion into a beautiful shaft of His love and light!
Lisa Rohrick is an International Worker in Niger, Africa. She lives among the Fulani people and ministers to them. She also transliterates Scriptire portions into Fulfulde, the Fulani language.more stories by Lisa Rohrick