December 5, 2020 • Life for Leaders
Scripture – Isaiah 29:17-19 (NRSV)
Shall not Lebanon in a very little while
become a fruitful field,
and the fruitful field be regarded as a forest?
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a scroll,
and out of their gloom and darkness
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The meek shall obtain fresh joy in the Lord,
and the neediest people shall exult in the Holy One of Israel.
A Note from Michaela
In Tuesday’s devotion, Mark included a short note, explaining how Life for Leaders readers can support the work of Fuller’s De Pree Center. If you’ve made a gift, thanks very much. If this is something you’re interested in, please click here to read Mark’s note. We are grateful for your support. – Michaela
In this season of Advent, there’s no need to hold back. We can be as honest as we need to be with God about all the tough stuff because we have assurance that God has and will intervene for the sake of the world through Christ.
Though God always invites us to be honest, it’s sometimes easier said than done. It’s sometimes hard to get to what lies beneath. I find Advent a particularly natural time to get in touch with the deeper stuff, the longings that sometimes feel hard to access. After all, it’s the season of longing and hoping in the Church.
If you’re anything like me, this year feels like a particularly good year to admit to myself and cry out to God that I am—so many of us are exhausted! With the pandemic spiking again in the US and hovering over any visions of a normal holiday we might have had, it just feels like one last blow to an already tough year. If ever there were a year to call out to God to intervene! And as we call out for God’s intervention we are buoyed by the hope of knowing that God has already made good on the promise of Jesus. God has already intervened in the grandest way possible. So we exhale worry and breathe in peace, knowing that the weary world will indeed have reason to rejoice soon enough. For even though the coming of Christ was so long ago, each year gives us new opportunity to unpack the wonder that comes with waiting on Jesus.
And, like a small child who feels safe in her mother’s arms, we know that while we wait for Jesus, we can be fully ourselves. Including getting really honest about whatever it is we long for. Worried about your work? Wish you could be with family you haven’t seen in a while? Longing to see a friend get better or a marriage recover? Feeling over this pandemic? Each of our longings—even the deeply personal ones—acts as a signpost of our yearning and anticipation of God’s intervention in this world.
These few verses from Isaiah paint quite the image of the Holy One as Intervener, an Intervener who makes wastelands fruitful and fruit fields uninhabitable and who demonstratively turns the world upside down in pursuit of justice. In this passage, we see that God is once again steadfastly committed to the rescue and restoration of marginalized people. We see God who enters confidently into the chaos knowing just how to make things right.
It’s also God as Intervener who gives us Jesus, though this intervention is a much more tender tone than the patient but also wrathful and ready to intervene God we see in Isaiah. John 3:16 says that “for God so loved the world that he gave his only son…” The same God who made wastelands fruitful and fruit fields uninhabitable gave us salvation through a child, a son named Jesus because of love.
It’s God’s tenderness that helps us to know that we can be as honest as we need to be this Advent season while we wait and hope for what’s coming. May you know that the Intervener loves you deeply and tenderly and wants you to come close. So, as you consider your own honest waiting, may it be guided by God’s intervening love. May that love give you hope this week and enable you to open your hearts in this season of waiting for the Lord to come.
What are you longing for in this season of your life and leadership? What do you feel like you’re really waiting for? How might these feelings help you get in touch with this season of Advent in which we wait on the coming of our Lord?
Do one intentional thing today that’s motivated by love. Reach out to a neighbor. Do the dishes for your spouse. Tell someone in your family that you’re grateful for them. Reflect on what happened when you did this, and what that might help you notice about God’s gift of love that comes through Jesus.
God, I trust that you’re an intervener. I come to you today just wanting to be honest about my own longings and pain. Help me to hope in you and be anchored by your love today as I wait for the coming of your son Jesus. Amen.
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Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Worship and Work (Isaiah 1ff.)
Dr. Michaela O’Donnell is the Executive Director of the Max De Pree Center for Leadership where she oversees the center’s vision, strategy, program, and team, all with the goal of helping leaders like you respond faithfully to God in all seasons of your life and leadership.
Michaela’s first book, Make Work Matter: Your Guide to Meaningful Work in a Changing World is due out in October with Baker Books. It’s already getting rave reviews from folks such as Dave Evans, Mark Labberton, Missy Wallace, Luke Bobo, Dee Ann Tuner, Kara Powell, and more. This book is a reflection of Michaela’s heart as both an entrepreneur and a practical theologian. Drawn to the real life working out of big issues, it is a how to for anyone walking the road of calling in a changing world.