Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Such Intimacy

No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. Isaiah 53:8NLT

One of the hardest aspects of losing Peter is the end of our family line, our legacy. Having Peter still with us brought huge comfort when we lost Andrew. But this time, round two, completes the loss. My husband struggled with it intensely standing over the graves on Father’s Day. I struggled with it near Mother’s Day when reading a fictional account of the book of Ruth. I related so well to Naomi’s lament over her legacy lost.

Last week, today’s scripture jumped off the page to me. I hadn’t asked Jesus to show me specifically where he dealt with this. Hebrews points out how Jesus has experienced everything we do so I often do ask him to show me. It helps to see in the black and white of scripture that he relates to my pain. But I hadn’t thought to ask this time.

Yet, he graciously answered my unspoken need. I love the book of Isaiah and had read today’s verse many times as Isaiah 53 is quite a famous passage. But I had never read it in the New Living Translation. That’s what made the difference.

Isaiah 53:8 in the NIV says: “By oppression and judgment he was taken away. Yet who of his generation protested? For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was punished.”

I’d always interpreted “cut off from the land of the living” as a referent to his death. But look at the verse in the NLT.

“Unjustly condemned, he was led away. No one cared that he died without descendants, that his life was cut short in midstream. But he was struck down for the rebellion of my people.”

Do you see it? “That he died without descendants.” Jesus likewise had no physical legacy. He never married, never had children. He understands the physical loss of having your name end.

But the chapter doesn’t end there. It continues with the explanation of how Jesus endured that pain. Verses 10-11 state, “Yet when his life is made an offering for sin, he will have many descendants. He will enjoy a long life, and the LORD’s good plan will prosper in his hands. When he sees all that is accomplished by his anguish, he will be satisfied. And because of his experience, my righteous servant will make it possible for many to be counted righteous, for he will bear all their sins.”

Jesus endured the pain of the physical because he understood the reward in the spirit. He willingly forsook physical descendants because his spiritual family mattered more.

Isaiah continued this theme in chapter 54, but now sharing this same opportunity with people. Even those who have no husband and/or children have hope because the spiritual is what matters. Chapter 54 declares of the childless woman, “For you will soon be bursting at the seams. Your descendants will occupy the other nations and resettle the ruined cities… For your Creator will be your husband.”

We too have the opportunity to create a spiritual legacy regardless of the physical circumstances in our lives. Hopefully it includes your children. But in no way is it limited to that.

I’ve known all of this.

I’ve told myself all of this.

But seeing in black and white that Jesus too died without descendants brought such comfort to my heart. Then reading of God’s larger plan of a spiritual legacy even for us his people, it refocused my perspective.

We have such an amazing God. As a friend described this weekend, “God is so big. Yet God is so small.” He is big enough to create the world and hold it all together. He is big enough to save us from ourselves and provide for our eternal destiny. And yet he is so small to care about the pain in this mother’s heart, so intimate to tenderly offer the comfort that he knows exactly how I feel.

I praise you God for all you are, willing to be more than a concept, a religion, a routine – instead an intimate, personal, relatable God. Thank you for loving me in such amazing ways!

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