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Lenten Devotional – March 23, 2020

Michael Weber – Lutheran Volunteer Corps

Isaiah 59:9-19; Acts 9:1-20; Psalm 146 

Chapter 59 of Isaiah sounds familiar. Dark times are among us. People are crying out for justice. The darkness in this chapter is instilled not just by the presence of injustice, but by a lack of truth, a lack of any mechanism for change. Everyone is just sort of waiting around for something to happen. Nobody seems to be able to speak any word that might catalyze change, because nobody has a leg to stand on when “our sins testify against us,” says Isaiah. 

So what is the solution? Well, this is the Bible we’re talking about. It’s God who’s going to come in with mighty righteousness. But why does God come to bring requital? “He saw that there was no one, and was appalled that there was no one to intervene,” writes Isaiah. No one is standing up and bringing about truth and justice. So God stands in, and his glory “will come like a pent-up stream that the wind of the Lord drives on.” 

Don’t we all feel like that way so much of the time? That justice is far away, that any time we try to speak truth, “truth stumbles in the public square?” That’s what darkness is: not knowing the way out. But then there’s also those moments when we feel release, when almost inexplicably, the “wind of the Lord” moves through us or those around us and all of a sudden, the waters of justice wash over us. But how do these moments, when all the pent-up is released, happen? 

Look at Acts 9, when Saul is rounding people up, and loses sight after hearing the reprimanding voice of Jesus. And the hesitant disciple Ananias is asked by the Lord to go to Saul and lay hands on him, so he may see again. But Ananias responds, “isn’t this the evil dude who is messing with your saints, those who proclaim your name?” 

Here we have the same roadblock, the same stagnancy of indecision that Isaiah described. No one seems able to bring about justice. But God sees this, and calls to Ananais. Now, Ananais could have rejected this request, because it does seem ridiculous. Why would Ananias, in service of God, go bless an enemy of the God in the name of God? Ananais might have been wondering: what will my fellow disciples think of me if I go to bless our persecutor? Am I really for the cause? 

Ananais goes to bless Saul, and then Saul ends up being the one teaching that Jesus is the Son of God. Truth is finally brought to the public square without stumbling. This was made possible by God’s intervention, because God saw that Saul wasn’t going to change by himself, and Ananais didn’t know what to do about Saul. So yes, God intervenes. But divine intervention means nothing if we don’t have faith, if we don’t answer the call! It’s simple: God can move through us if we put our faith in God. We must be willing to brave repercussions, to be truthful about our inadequacies, and speak God’s truth anyway.

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