“Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive Daughter of Zion”.
The prophet Isaiah scribed these words many moons ago, as the Spirit breathed them to pass. And that same Spirit sung them over me this morning.
This Sabbath morning.
The cool of the Sabbath dawn was soon swallowed up by a stifling and hot day.
Metaphorical, really, to the state of this mother’s heart.
For my heart has been dwelling in night’s shadows for a few days (hm, maybe weeks?) now.
Not wanting to hear His voice saying for ages past “let there be LIGHT”
Not wanting to feel, nor hear, the heat of conviction in His strong, but loving, voice.
For, though shadows and coolness are nice in seasons, when One Eternal, is calling you into the Light, hot though it is, shadows should not be hidden in.
But I was hiding.
For you see, I have been really struggling.
I have been harboring anger.
At peoples and cultures and the way they respond to my son.
Being a foreigner, I know to expect stares.
It once frazzled me but eventually became comical, then accepted.
But, when the stares are towards another whom I love so deeply…I don’t accept well.
And when they are not because he is a foreigner, for he is not…I don’t accept well.
When they are because he looks different and what they perceive as strange and distorted…I don’t accept well.
And when their looks are not then softened by words of gentleness or compassion…
I become enraged.
And when their lips utter words they think indecipherable to me, a foreigner, but I understand…
And when they come steps TOO close and start that “tisk, tisk, tisk” sound, as they shake their heads in disbelief.
I fire off.
I spitfire questions, unanswerable, and stare them down.
Mother bear arises from the shadows and bears her claws from her cave….
Yes, it is true.
For I cannot stand it and I feel as though these ignorant people need to be put in their place.
I cannot stand the thought of my son understanding the intention of their stares and sounds.
I imagine, prematurely, how he will perceive it in years to come and I weep.
And I borrow trouble.
And I create insecurities for him (as if anyone needs insecurities created for them…for don’t we all have a fine way of finding them ourselves in this harsh world and in our darkened hearts?)
So, over time, I have withdrawn.
Not just myself.
But him also.
I have made us a little island.
Our little family.
I imagine the looks that will come, so I choose to keep us inside.
We go on adventures, just not where people will come.
We ride bikes, but by the light of the moon.
And I have lived in shadows these past weeks.
And I have shackled our family…
And myself in the process.
I have walked, shackled, carrying his shame.
Carrying our shame.
Until last night.
I knew His Voice was trying to break thru.
Thru the darkness I was hiding in.
I could see His ray of Light impending…
And, though the shadows are cool and comfortable…
I longed for the warmth of His embrace.
I knew I had distanced myself from it.
And I called to Him.
Pleaded with Him to show me where I had gone wrong.
“Do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame. Do not fear disgrace; you will not be humiliated…the Holy One of Israel is your Redeemer; He is called the GOD OF ALL THE EARTH”.
“Do not be afraid” and “Do not fear”.
Fear had placed me in my cave.
Thoughts of shame had morphed me into a mother bear who had forgotten grace.
And I was worn down by attempting to bear another’s shame.
And thinking that is how it would always be.
Especially surrounded by this people.
But again, His voice, like fire, spoke
“Surely HE TOOK UP OUR INFIRMITIES AND CARRIED OUR SORROWS”
Why, on earth, am I trying or believing that my son’s burdens and sorrows are mine to bear?
Have I forgotten my Maker?
Yes, in those moments, I had.
In those moments walking thru crowded markets…my moments of laughter and joy with my son were interrupted when I would look up and see the crowd around, staring, heads shaking, and at times, even turning their heads, as they could not comprehend.
The face that I look at and only see beauty, redemption, miraculous healing, growth, and glory in…they see disfigurement and those who are not led to “tisking”, in disbelief turn away.
In those moments, I certainly forget my Maker and his Maker.
And I falsely believe, as He carried my burden, I must now carry Adam’s burden.
Not hearing the pride and self righteouness in those thoughts.
For really…the Truth is
JUST AS HE CARRIED MY BURDEN, HE NOW CARRIES ADAM’S BURDEN.
Who did I think that I was?
The God of all Creation became flesh and dwelt among us, so that our burdens would enslave us no longer.
And here I am, thousands of years later, and knowing of His salvation, still trying to bear its weight beneath my shoulders.
Thinking the shame and pain of another is my cross to bear.
Forgetting, He carried it.
On THE CROSS.
Where “it is finished”
And I forget WHO He was.
On that Cross.
I forget how Isaiah describes his appearance.
Who daily bears my burden and the burdens all my children will ever feel on this earth.
I forget that He, too, was not always a delight in other’s eyes.
“He had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not…” (prophet isaiah)
That is the One Who bears my son’s pain and the shame.
HE is the One who can relate to the pain of my son more than I could ever think of.
He is the One who bears my pain and burden as a mother when I feel the stares.
And He is the One who bears your pain and the burdens you bear, dear one.
And He is the One who will bear the shame and pain this life will ever place on you.
Weary mother, just come to Him.
“Come to me ALL YOU who are weary and heavy burdened and I WILL GIVE YOU REST” (matthew)
Rest for our weary souls that have dwelt in caves and shadows for too long.
He will give us something better.
Cool waters that will never run dry.
“Come, all you who are thirsty, come to the waters” (Isaiah)
And really, why am I surprised at the shame that I, my son, my husband, and our future children, will feel and bear at times in this life?
We are told to “Look to the ROCK from which you were cut”
Who did Paul say that Rock was in that Second Book of Corinthians?
In the tenth chapter.
The fourth verse?
Do look and see.
That same Rock that was struck so that Waters could nourish Israel’s people, thirsty and fearful in that arid desert.
Read and see who that Rock was.
And then, Isaiah tells us,
“Look to the ROCK from which you were cut”
And a few chapters later....
We see that this Rock “had no beauty or majesty to attract us to Him, nothing in His appearance that we should desire Him. He was despised and rejected by men, a Man of sorrows, and familiar with suffering. Like one from whom men hide their faces, He was despised, and we esteemed Him not…” (Isaiah)
Why am I surprised when physical bodies bear pain and don’t fit our mold of beautiful?
For, the Rock from which we were cut “had no beauty…to attract us to Him”
So when I am led to question why my son’s face came into the world incomplete…
And when I am led to question why people stare as they do and even hide their faces…
When I am led to question why mankind can so easily esteem people not…
People who physically appear different… we esteem them not and then hide our faces
Babies whose arrivals are not convenient to our schedules…we esteem them not, devise our own plans at permitting or not permitting their lives…and then hide our faces.
Statistics and stories of people still enslaved and suffering at the hands of mankind on this earth…they seem too far away, so we hide our faces…
When I question those things and I carry those weights heavy on my heart.
When I attempt to carry those burdens.
When I am led to endless questioning and anger, He tells me
“Look to the Rock from which you were cut”
He is the Rock from which we were cut.
He is surely familiar with suffering and acquainted with grief.
So, surely, He can relate to the depths of our pain and anger at the sufferings we see in this life.
“I, even I, am He who comforts you, WHO ARE YOU that you fear mortal men, the sons of men, who are but grass, that you forget the Lord your MAKER…that you live in constant terror every day…” (Isaiah)
He, the Rock from which we were cut, understands our pain and shame because HE first bore it, FOR US.
And He alone can comfort us.
And, there is more!
“He was pierced for OUR TRANSGRESSIONS, HE WAS CRUSHED for OUR INIQUITIES; the punishment that brought us peace was UPON HIM, and by His wounds, we are healed”
Is that not balm for the soul?
He did not deserve to be despised and rejected.
We actually are the ones deserving of it.
But, HE TOOK IT.
So now we do not have to.
And when I dwell in the cave’s shadows.
When I sit in that darkness, and EVEN WORSE, harbor my son there…away from HIS LIGHT…
I forget His Cross.
I forget the Freedom He bought ME
I forget that I deserved to be there…but He hung instead.
And I shackle myself again.
I tie chains around my neck
And the necks of those around me…
When He is there to say
“do not be afraid; you will not suffer shame”
BECAUSE HE SUFFERED IT IN OUR PLACE
“do not fear disgrace, you will not be humiliated”
BECAUSE HE WAS HUMILIATED IN OUR PLACE
“you will forget the shame of your youth”(54.4)
Because He took our shame.
It pierced His Heavenly, yet human, hands.
Heavenly blood ran, red and free
So that, His children, could one day run freely.
So that captive daughters could hear that still small voice saying
“Free yourself from the chains on your neck, O captive daughter of Zion…
“Shake off your dust; rise up, sit enthroned”… (52.2)
“Then you will know that I, the Lord, am your Savior,
The Mighty One of Jacob….” (60.19)
“The Lord will be your everlasting light,
And your days of sorrow WILL END” (60.20)
So, dear ones, your days of sorrow have ended.
In many ways.
Yes, pain still exists,
Until He “makes all things new”
But, if we fix our minds on what is eternal…sorrow ended on the Cross.
He took that shame and
It was said that
“IT IS FINISHED”.
Do not dwell in the shadows…as I was dwelling.
Come into the Light.
Let Him remove your chains
So you can dance in that FREEdom.
I am with you.
As is my little son.
And I will pray that these Truths will come to his mind at a young age
Despite what mortal man (who are “but grass”) may do or say.
I will stand up for him when it is my place.
But I will also pour these Truths from my mouth into his little ears.
At times, there is a place for “mother bears”
Even mother bears are called to extend grace.
For even mother bears should free themselves from the chains on their necks.