We are going to learn a lot as we journey through Isaiah together. These short verses today are sandwiched between the words of judgment proclaimed by the Lord. This image of being white as snow or wool has always been powerful for me. As I sit here, now living in Mexico, it strikes me it has been a long time since I have seen snow. Most of my Mexican friends have never even seen snow in person, so the power of this verse may not be fully grasped.
I can still vividly remember white knuckle driving on country roads in Iowa during my commute in the winter. This Iowa girl does not miss snow one little bit! But when it comes to this verse, I am taken back to a time when I could be nestled safely inside a warm house, looking out at the vast fields of white, glistening in the sun. That snow was so white it almost hurt your eyes to look at its gleaming. That is the image I think of when I imagine my sins being cleansed by a loving God.
Grace is that undeserved favor we receive from God. It’s all sufficient, and it’s all a gift. Moses wanted the people to understand that God wasn’t doing all of this for them because they were righteous. We read over and over again the Bible accounts that show the stubbornness and disobedience of God’s chosen people. He didn’t choose them because they were the best students in the class.
It would be easy to become over-confident and think we are better than we are, too. When we have success in our life, it would be all too easy to take the credit. We do need to realize who is in charge, who has made a way for us, who has gifted us with the skills and abilities we use to reach our level of success.
One of my favorite verses comes up in today’s reading. In recent days we’ve talked about boasting and struggles. While most of us don’t want to boast about the things that have caused us harm, sadness, misfortune, or weakness, Paul is giving us the nod to go ahead. It is especially powerful when we can see God working amidst our pain.
Have you ever cried out to God to take away a limitation, a struggle, a sickness, or some other challenge? Paul did, too. And here’s the promise from verse 9, “Each time he [God] said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.” God is speaking that into our hearts today as well.
We’ve all seen people who are so full of themselves and
their own agendas they are almost repelling. You are probably picturing someone
you know right now! Those people haven’t read this passage, or if they have,
they don’t see how it should be speaking to them. They are only comparing
themselves to each other. That is a limitation to be sure, and it doesn’t make
for an attractive character. Do you think?
We can boast all we want, so long as those boasts are about
God and how he is working in the world. Better yet, how he is working in our
own lives! His authority trumps all else. When we are fortunate enough to be
touched by God’s grace, we can’t help but want to share. Yet sometimes we don’t,
afraid of what people may say or think. It’s seems to be so much easier to
share about a good restaurant meal, a funny movie, a comfortable pair of shoes.
Why is that?
Do you prefer to receive gifts or give gifts? The older I get the more I enjoy giving. But aside from gifts, I love to give my time and experiences that will make a lasting memory. For gifts are often set aside and ignored. I can remember many a Christmas morning when the children would spend hours playing with new toys only to several days later see those same toys left abandoned in the corner.
Paul is warning us to be careful not to ignore God’s gift to us. God’s kindness, to me, is referring to his grace, mercy, and unfailing love for us. We don’t deserve such splendid gifts. We are sinners. We are selfish beings focused on instant gratification and being served. Many will take for granted this beautiful gift. Have we left it abandoned in the corner?