Tag Archives: Isaiah 45

My Butt Ain’t That Big

God’s Message to his anointed,
    to Cyrus, whom he took by the hand…
…I’ve singled you out, called you by name,
    and given you this privileged work.
    And you don’t even know me!
Isaiah 45:1,4 (MSG)

Yesterday, over coffee with a friend, I was sharing my experiences of attending a fundamentalist Bible college one semester. My friend asked me where the college was and I told him where it was located.

He looked at me in surprise.

I never knew there was a Bible college there!” he exclaimed.

Shhhhh!” I whispered, lifting my finger to my mouth. “They don’t want you to know they’re there!

I was jesting, of course, but the truth of the matter is that throughout most of my life journey I’ve found many followers of Jesus, and especially many of the denominational institutions, are an exclusionary bunch. Membership requires strict adherence to a rigid set of doctrinal beliefs and/or public adherence to a list (sometimes formal, sometimes not) of moral and puritanical behavioral rules. If you don’t tow the line, you’re not welcome. Many will go so far as to say that if you don’t tow the line then you’re not only not welcome in their church but you’re also not going to be welcome in heaven either.

The further I get in my spiritual journey, and the deeper I get in my relationship with God the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, the more I’ve come to see this exclusionary religious model, adhered to by so many proclaimed Christian institutions and denominations, as antithetical to God’s actual Message and example.

In today’s chapter the prophet Isaiah gives a message about Cyrus the Great, the founder of the Achaemenid empire in the middle part of the sixth century B.C.. Cyrus was not Jewish. He didn’t claim to believe in the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel. In fact, Cyrus had a reputation of a “live and let live” policy for allowing the nations he conquered continue to pursue their local religions. It was quite progressive in his day. Cyrus was not one of “God’s chosen” people, and yet God through the prophet Isaiah calls Cyrus his “anointed” whom He has “taken by the hand.” God has “singled Cyrus out” and “called him by name” even though Cyrus has no knowledge of this.

This morning I am reminded that the Creator, and Almighty God, does not live inside the box of my personal doctrinal and religious parameters. I am responsible to follow the path to which I am called, to follow Jesus’ teachings and example, to live out the comprehensive law of Love, to let God be God, and leave judgment to the Judge who is infinitely beyond all that my finite mind can think or imagine.

The Judgment Seat of Christ is a huge chair.

My butt isn’t nearly big enough to fit on it.

 

Chapter-a-Day Isaiah 45

Stage Manger at work backstage. "Clearly, you are a God who works behind the scenes…." Isaiah 45:15a (MSG)

I have been involved in stage productions since my youth and have spent the last five years in leadership of our local community theater organization. In fact, just last night Wendy and I found ourselves helping with auditions for the summer production. It never ceases to amaze me the number of people involved who the audience never see on stage. The audience sees and enjoys the actors' performance but they never see the Writer, Producer, Director, Stage Manager, Costumer, Lighting Director, Audio Director, Marketing team, Make-up Artist, and Production Assistants.

A month ago, I was acting in a show. At the end of one scene I needed to make an exit and come right back in at the beginning of the following scene. My coat was on a coat hook at the opposite end of the stage and it was my responsibility to exit through that far door and grab my coat. I made my exit through the nearest door without thinking about my coat which was now abandoned stage. I was going to look really silly entering a few minutes later without my coat when the audience could see it was still hanging on the hook by the door.

I scrambled around backstage, cursing myself for my mental lapse. As I approached, the opposite end of the set, I found my coat hanging on a hook backstage. In the scene change, one of the backstage crew had noticed I'd left the coat. They immediately ran to grab it and put it back stage where I would find it. Crisis averted. Without a a crew backstage making sure everything was under control, I'd have looked really silly.

When I read "you are a God who works behind the scenes," I really appreciate what that means.

Yesterday I wrote about a terrible, horrible, no good, very bad day I had the previous day. It would have been easy to say to myself, "God, why are you absent?" I could have looked at the evidence of what I saw and concluded that God had let me down. I know that's not true. God is at work. In the spotlight, on the stage of my everyday life, things appear to be going wrong, but backstage God is actively at work. I may not see it until after the scene is over, but the Great Stage Manager is behind the scenes administrating far more than I can comprehend. He is aware of more than I see, and actively engaged to make sure I don't blow my next entrance.

Relax. We've got the best possible Stage Manager at work behind the scenes of our life.

Creative Commons photo courtesy of Flickr and Ervin Noordin