We got there and there was a guest speaker (obviously, as our 2 main pastors are around the world) that had a very different approach than our charismatic pastor. He opened his Bible and began to read, and even someone who has recently read the chapter he read aloud, I had no idea what he was reading. I guessed it was scripture, I didn't know what translation, I didn't know what chapter or even what book he was reading from because he didn't say. He read an entire chapter. Normally if our pastor reads, he will tell us which book to flip to, give us time to open our Bibles and they also put the verses up on the screen. This guy just opened some book up behind the pulpit and read an entire chapter.
Tooootally not what we're used to... which is cool too... but unfortunately we started to just zone out. The teenagers that came with us who sat behind us were talking amongst themselves quietly and trying to amuse themselves because this was just not what normally happens at our church. You never have to force yourself to pay attention or to not yawn or to follow along, at our church normally you are captivated and hang on every word and when it's over you have no idea how the time passed so quickly.
Anyhow... after probably 15 minutes of reading aloud and talking about what he read, he then tells us he read Isaiah chapter 53. Oh, okay. So I open my Bible to that. (It was kind of funny because in my Bible reading just last night I read Ecclesiastes and Song of Solomon and was about to dive into Isaiah, so my bookmark was already at Isaiah 1.) I have to be honest, I was only half heartedly listening and wishing for Pastor Jim to have a safe and speedy trip home.... and then this man started to read the first few verses of Chapter 54. Now, know that this was not the focus of his sermon. His sermon was on Chapter 53.
Isaiah 53 (King James Version)
1Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?
2For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.
3He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.
4Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.
6All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.
7He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.
8He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken.
9And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.
10Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.
11He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.
12Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.
(Oh just read it, it's not that long and it certainly won't kill you.)
This guy was reading the chapter where they prophesied the life of Christ over 600 years before Christ walked the Earth and how He would be viewed and eventually how he would die for our salvation.
The very next verse was what the Holy Spirit spoke to both Jack and I about. Now remember, just picture us sitting in church, in the second row in the center of the church, barely paying attention and thinking about other things.
1Sing, O barren, thou that didst not bear; break forth into singing, and cry aloud, thou that didst not travail with child: for more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife, saith the LORD.
Um excuse me? Say that again?
SING Oh barren, oh barren who? The one who did not bear. Bear what? The one who didn't travail with child. What does travail mean? Travail is the pain of childbirth. So who is this talking to? The barren woman who did not bear a child through childbirth. For more are the children of the desolate... who are the desolate? Those broken and lost and hurting and used up. The desolate are the people who will be having their children removed by CPS, the people whose children we will foster. For more are the children of the desolate than the children of the married wife. Who is the married wife? I am. Saith the Lord. From the mouth of God Himself.
I looked over at Jack, tears in my eyes and he just nodded because the exact same insight had just been presented to him as well. And remember, this guy was preaching about how Christ truly was percieved and how he was broken and killed for all of our sins.... he wasn't giving a sermon on foster kids... but this is how God has continually spoken to us.
He might as well have said, "Jack and Allison, you should be singing in your heartache... sing through this trail of barrenness and infertility. Sing because you have been given a more precious task... for in my eyes, more important and more valuable and more precious are the children of the desolate, the lost and the broken than ones you could have bore yourselves right now. Love God. "
But Isaiah 54 goes on...
5For thy Maker is thine husband; the LORD of hosts is his name; and thy Redeemer the Holy One of Israel; The God of the whole earth shall he be called.
6For the LORD hath called thee as a woman forsaken and grieved in spirit, and a wife of youth, when thou wast refused, saith thy God.
7For a small moment have I forsaken thee; but with great mercies will I gather thee.
8In a little wrath I hid my face from thee for a moment; but with everlasting kindness will I have mercy on thee, saith the LORD thy Redeemer.
The Lord is my husband... I am the bride and He is my bridegroom. My Redeemer! He has called me (and US) as a woman forsaken (or a husband and wife forsaken) and grieved in spirit. A wife of youth. When we were refused... we have been refused for over 3 years!
For a small moment He has forsaken us, but with great mercies He promises to gather us. For a small moment... our LIFE on Earth is a small moment. We might live to be 90 years old... I'm almost 1/3 of the way there, Jack IS 1/3 of the way there. 1/3 of the way through this life. This life IS but a vapor... it is so short and is over before we even know what's happening. So for this small moment in our lives He has forsaken us with barrenness. And hidden His face (and this blessing) from us for this moment. How long will this moment last? Well even if it lasted our whole 90 years on this Earth... this moment is an inconceivably small amount of time in comparison with eternity. Everlasting kindness and mercy He promises He will have for us. For eternity.
It was just unbelievable that through what we thought was a mistake of even coming to church... Here God was speaking to us about our very situation... yet again. God is always speaking to us about Foster Parenting. Here we go again, God is saying and commanding us to MOVE in our lives. Better it is for us to not mope around and sulk and suffer through this, He has great things planned for our life. Great blessings will come to us if we follow in His will for our lives. If only we would stop dragging our feet even for a moment and pay attention as He speaks to us.
So SING, this barren woman will SING about the JOY of the Lord. I will SING of His amazing blessings He has given to Jack and I in our marriage and even our marriage itself. I will SING about what an amazing God we serve and love who loves us enough to send a Savior to die for our sins so that we will know and have an eternity with Him in Heaven. I will SING His praises and SING for His glory! We will SING our testimony through this situation and praise His name through it all!