Friday, July 10, 2009

Isaiah 25 speaks to “Without a Trace”

Last night I was up late watching an episode of the show “Without a Trace.” It’s a fictional show about the missing persons unit of the FBI, and in this episode they were investigating the disappearance of a young high school teacher. Their investigation reveals that the teacher had an abusive and alcoholic father. When she was a little girl, the teacher saw her father shoot her mother in a fit of rage and drunkenness. Her father goes to prison and serves 15 of 20 years of a sentence. The teacher tries to move on in her life, even changing her name so that her father won’t find her. She lives with pain and refuses to forgive her father. What prompts her disappearance is when she discovers that one of her students is being abused by his own father. Yet her student later reveals to her that it is not his father that beats him, but his mother! The FBI team finds out the truth of all this, finding the teacher and her student safe. The teacher’s father ends up committing suicide out of guilt for never being able to control his anger, and the boy returns home safely with his father while the mother stays in the FBI’s custody.

Needless to say the show is sometimes tough to watch. While the FBI team often finds the person they’re looking for, that’s not always the case and sometimes things turn out quite the opposite. I like the show because the main characters are interesting, and the cases are often quite intriguing. Yet it is gritty and often shows the darker side of life. For some reason this episode got to me more than most. It made me think of how many children suffer from broken and abusive households, or how many people feel trapped in life because of painful relationships or the difficulties of life. It reminds me of how truly fallen our world is, and the great evil that people are capable of.

With my mind wrapped around these ideas, these verses really hit home as I was reading Isaiah 25 during my devotional time before going to bed.

“He will swallow up death for all time, and the Lord God will wipe tears away from all faces, and he will remove the reproach of His people from all the earth; for the Lord has spoken. And it will be said in that day, ‘Behold, THIS is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. THIS is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation.’ ” Isaiah 25:8-9 (emphasis mine)

In context, Isaiah 25 is a song of praise for God’s favor which directly follows a series of descriptions of how God will bring his wrath and judgment upon various nations and the whole earth. Yet in spite of all that, Isaiah speaks of God’s promises of full restoration healing, defeating death and pain and removing sin from His people. This is exactly what began in the ministry of Jesus as he ushered in the Kingdom of God, bringing wholeness, restoration, forgiveness, and reconciliation to a broken world. And as Christ’s disciples we’re charged with continuing this task, assured that God has already been working in our lives to heal and forgive us. As Paul says, we’re new creations because of Jesus, and God has committed us to the word of reconciliation (2 Cor 5:17-19).

I love the fact that God’s promises for full restoration of this world has already began in Jesus, and that we get to see glimpses of it happening in our churches. I’m continually blown away by how God does this stuff in our lives and in those around us, working in powerful miraculous ways. God’s promises are everlasting and are shown to be true because of Jesus and because of the crazy things we get to see! One day our world will be fully restored and redeemed of all the pain and sin and wickedness! I love working with high school students because of how you get to see God work in their lives in these exact ways. Check out this video of my friend Brian Holland talking about how God is working in our high school students at Elevate, Pomona First Baptist’s high school group where God currently has me serving. I love this place! "THIS is our God for whom we have waited that He might save us. THIS is the Lord for whom we have waited; Let us rejoice and be glad in His salvation." !!