The Overcomer's Path - Pt. 2
We are to live, move, and have our being in God's peace
Re-Created in His Image
Behold, My servant will succeed; he will be exalted and become high and exceedingly lofty. Just as multitudes were astonished over you, saying, 'His appearance is too marred to be a man's, and his visage to be human,' so will the many nations exclaim about him, and kings will shut their mouths in amazement, for they will see that which had never been told to them, and will perceive things they had never heard. Isaiah 52:13-151
We are to live, move, and have our being in God's peace. We are meant to live in and even be an expression of His mercy and peace to the world around us. The world knows us as we were, marred by our sin with warts and all, but now ... now we are changed.
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Redeemed overcomers are a work in progress. Make no mistake about it, it is a process. Confession. Repentance. Judgement. Forgiveness. Restoration. Renewal. Those are the steps of this process we are engaged in. There are no shortcuts. Through it all, God's peace is there for us to live and walk in, to breathe. It is to be our place of habitation, the place where we exist and move.
Through the outworking of God's mercy and grace in our lives, the world will see a new person, one it hardly recognizes. Go back to the process for a moment. After forgiveness comes restoration, which we may think of as a reset that puts us on level ground as we marvel at God's mercy and begin to live each moment in faith. That is restoration. Renewal is something different. Renewal is a kind of re-creation as God forms us into what could not have been while we were lost in our false worlds and identities, but which is now possible. It turns out that our Creator is also our Re-Creator, the One who loves us so much He would do this for us. Our future is remade as we, through His provision and our righteous choices, are remade in His image.
Eternal Mercy and Kindness
Fear not, for you will not be shamed; do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth and you will no longer recall the disgrace of your widowhood. For your Master is your Maker, HASHEM, Master of Legions, is His Name; your Redeemer is the Holy One of Israel; God of all the world will He be called. For like a wife who had been forsaken and melancholy has HASHEM called you, and like a wife of one's youth who had become despised, said your God. For but a brief moment have I forsaken you, and with abundant mercy will I gather you in. With a slight wrath have I concealed My countenance from you for a moment, but with eternal kindness shall I shou you mercy, said your Redeemer, HASHEM. Isaiah 54:4-8
In this analogy, God refers to the nation as a wife who has been disgraced by the absence of her husband, intimating that the separation between them is charged to her account. In the overcomer's case, this is a description of the separation between us and God caused by our sin. God has withdrawn himself from the intimacy of our relationship because our life dishonors Him. He is still present (assuming one is a believer) but distant.
This passage begins with words every redeemed overcomer needs to take to heart: "Fear not, for you will not be shamed; do not feel humiliated, for you will not be disgraced; for you will forget the shame of your youth and you will no longer recall the disgrace of your widowhood (sin)."
Fear, guilt, and shame are killers of restoration and renewal. It is possible to be redeemed but so afflicted by these that completion of the restoration and renewal processes cannot succeed. We must learn how to overcome them. It is good then that we have a Helper.
God tells us next that His absence has been temporary. When we turn back into Him, He is quick to meet us and shower us with "abundant mercy" as He draws us in with "eternal kindness." God is no longer distant in our lives. He is alive in us, and we in Him (John 17:21-23). Our relationship with Him is not only restored, but also renewed by His mercy and kindness. The overcomer has a helpmate whose kindness "shall not be removed" and whose peace "shall not falter." (v10)
God is not going to do all the work, however. We must be active in our own renewal. He tells us that we are to establish ourselves through righteousness (v14). Once again, He tells us that righteousness is in our choices. Making right choices is the work of establishing righteousness in our lives. We will be happier living in His presence as a result and the world around us will take note. After all, abundant mercy and eternal kindness are hard to miss when you see them on display.
He Is Our Sustenance
Why do you weigh out money without getting bread and exert your efforts for that which does not satisfy? Listen well to Me and you will eat well, and your soul will delight in rich food. Incline your ear and comet to Me; listen, and your soul will be rejuvenated; I will make an eternal covenant with you, the enduring kindnesses promised to David. Isaiah 55:2-3
All of our struggles and efforts to succeed in life are as weighing ourselves out for things that cannot satisfy or complete us. We exchange so much for so little when God's Word is the true source of our sustenance. We are to dine at His table, drink His wine, and take into ourselves the perfection of the life He has re-created us for. Everything else is spoiled fare. Everything we need in and from life is His to bestow upon us. Our part? To be worthy of His abundance, not by our works as the first order of life, but by the longing in our heart to honor, please, and serve Him which motivates us to seek out His heart's desires for us and to pursue them out of our own heart's desire. Then we can rest in the peace and confidence of knowing we are on the right pathway.
Seek HASHEM when He can be found, call upon Him when He is near. Let the wicked one forsake his way and the iniquitous man his thoughts; let him return to HASHEM and He will show him mercy; to our God, for He is abundantly forgiving. For my thoughts are not your thoughts and your ways are not My ways - the word of HASHEM. Isaiah 55:6-8