Tuesday, 12 January 2010

This promise is for me

Yesterday I took the two boys (I have two boys!) for a walk in the rain. Luke slept soundly in a nice cozy wrap while Jacob ran ahead to try out his new rainboots in every puddle he could find. For two hours we wandered the green trails of the nearby park, relishing the opportunity to get out of the house despite the rain.

And once again I was reminded of just how much we need to get outside, rain or shine. Why do I always forget? It was wonderful to breath the fresh air, watch Jacob laugh as he jumped in the puddles, snuggle my sleeping baby, and marvel at the beauty of God's creation.

I often forget, too, how much I need the daily bread of God's Word. The three of us went to our weekly Bible study yesterday evening (hubby stayed home to study for his exams). Luke, bless his little heart, slept soundly against me in a sling the entire time, while Jacob played with his much-missed little friend (who turned one over the holidays!). Our group had taken a three week break for Christmas, and I do believe Jacob asked about her every single day. It will be so much fun when Luke is big enough to join them as they play.

Just as my body had found refreshment in the long walk and fresh air that afternoon, my soul now drank in the reading and study of Scripture. I was amazed at what I found there - how could I have missed it? It began with such an innocuous story, Philip and the Ethiopian eunuch (Acts 8:26-40), something I have read countless times. Last night, though, our group looked at the story from another point of view, that of the eunuch's, studying his character and background in order to get a new perspective on the passage.

Initially this took us to Isaiah 53:7-8, and from there a little further on to Isaiah 56:1-8. We were looking particularly at the verses that mentioned the subject of our study (3-5), promising the childless eunuch "a memorial and a name better than sons and daughters".

The rest of the verses in the passage (1-8) reveal an even greater promise, a promise for all who were not born Jewish. Here, and elsewhere in Isaiah, we see a prophetic promise that, through Christ, those who were not part of God's chosen people could still become part of God's family.

"And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD
to serve him,
to love the name of the LORD,
and to worship him,
all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it
and who hold fast to my covenant-

these I will bring to my holy mountain
and give them joy in my house of prayer.
Their burnt offerings and sacrifices
will be accepted on my altar;
for my house will be called
a house of prayer for all nations

- Isaiah 56:6-7

In all likelihood, I have read this passage of Scripture many times over the years. But while I was, of course, aware that the New Testament spoke of Gentiles being welcomed as children of God, was I also aware that the Old Testament prophesied this? Shamefully, I can't honestly say that I did.

What's more, last night, for perhaps the first time, I myself identified with the foreigner. Even reading, repeatedly, of salvation coming to the Gentiles in the New Testament, knowing this, understanding this, being fully able to explain this to others, I had somehow never placed myself as one of them, as one of those who has been "grafted in".

It is a habit I have long tried to break, this habit of reading something and thinking of it only as it relates to others instead of applying it to myself. How nice for the Gentiles that they could also become children of God... If only so-and-so would read this article... What a great point, I hope so-and-so heard that... How true, I wish so-and-so would realize that. What of myself? Have I nothing left to learn? No weaknesses or blind spots of my own? No need of application to my own life?

But there it was, there and elsewhere, a promise for me. Not just for nameless, faceless Gentiles - for me. I can't even begin to describe the depth of gratitude that overcame me as that realization and application sunk in.

Thank You, God, for this promise, and for the fruition and reality of this promise in Christ. Thank You that I have been grafted into Your family. Praise, glory, and honour be unto You, now and always.

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