Many believers today are asking, “Why hasn’t God turned America over to judgment? Why hasn’t He dealt with us according to our sins? He gave Noah’s generation 120 years of warnings, but after that He said, ‘Enough,’ and brought a flood. God has suffered America’s sins for a long time now, so why haven’t we seen His righteous judgment on us?”
I love this country, and I for one don’t want to see God’s final judgment come upon America. Like many, I am completely amazed at why God’s judgment has been delayed.
I do believe we are seeing the beginnings of judgment. I see the terrible calamities taking place in the world as warnings. Yet, because America’s economy hasn’t collapsed, and our nation is still able to function as it has, we seem to stumble along from crisis to crisis, being given chance after chance.
I’m convinced there is only one answer to this perplexity: it’s all because of the tenderness and longsuffering of our Savior. We find the proof in Isaiah’s prophecy: “A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench” (Isaiah 42:3). America has become a nation of bruised reeds!
A reed is a tall stalk or plant with a hollow stem, usually found in marshy areas or near a supply of water. It’s a tender plant, so it bends easily when high winds or swift waters strike. Yet the reed can bend only so far before it finally breaks and is carried away with the flood.
Like a reed in calm weather, America once stood proud and tall, full of purpose and promise. Our entire society honored God, and the Bible was held up as the standard for our laws and judicial system. Even during my lifetime, school textbooks consisted of lessons and stories from the Bible. Jesus was acknowledged as the Son of God, the One who gives our country favor and untold blessings.
Yet, in our prosperity, we became like ancient Israel: proud and unthankful. And we’ve fallen a long way in a short time. God has been pushed out of our court systems, out of our schools, His name mocked and ridiculed.
Our society has totally lost its moral compass and as a result, the America that once stood tall is now crippled, like a bruised reed.
“Behold my servant, whom I uphold; mine elect, in whom my soul delighteth; I have put my spirit upon him: he shall bring forth judgment to the Gentiles. He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the smoking flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment unto truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged, till he have set judgment in the earth: and the isles shall wait for his law” (Isaiah 42:1–4).
This passage is all about Jesus. The Holy Spirit had moved upon the prophet Isaiah to bring forth a revelation of what Christ would be like when He comes. And Isaiah’s opening word here, “Behold,” signals to His listeners: “Prepare for a new revelation about the Messiah.”
The image that comes into focus from these four verses is clear: Christ wasn’t coming to force people to hear Him. He wouldn’t come with a loud clamor, He would come as a tender, loving Savior.
We find the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy in Matthew 12. The Pharisees had just held a council to plan how they might kill Jesus, all because He had healed a man with a withered hand on the Sabbath. Matthew tells us that “when Jesus knew [discovered] it, he withdrew” (12:15).
Christ didn’t retaliate in anger or rail against those who plotted His death. He wasn’t like the disciples, who wanted to call down fire on His opponents, even though Christ could have done that. Actually, He could have summoned a legion of angels to deal with His enemies but Jesus wasn’t out to take revenge.
It was this tender spirit, Matthew says, that reveals the fulfillment of Isaiah’s prophecy: “He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets” (Matthew 12:19).
Isaiah was saying, in essence, “The Savior isn’t coming to force anybody into His kingdom. He’s not coming as a loud, boisterous, overpowering personality. No, you’ll hear Him speak with a still, small voice in your inner man.”
Christ often begins His ministry to us as if we are children with needs to be met. This happened throughout the gospels as He restored the blind man’s sight, healed the bleeding woman, and fed the hungry crowds. He met suffering people right where they were and gave them just what they needed. This was reason enough for people to follow Him. Even some of the Pharisees followed Christ because of His miracles.
I personally was convinced to follow Jesus after He met my deepest need. As a teenager I became uncertain whether God was real. I had descended from a long line of ministers, so how could I be sure that my faith wasn’t just indoctrination from my parents? Jesus came to me in my hurting soul and showed me what I needed to know: that Buddha didn’t love me, nor did Mohammed or Confucius—but Jesus did. He revealed to me the pure truth of His love—and it turned my life around.
Jesus does bless us in our time of need. But, you see, that’s only His starting place in our lives. He takes us from blessedness to brokenness because it’s the only way to bring us to real maturity. The broken path is how we begin to take on His giving nature.
Let’s face it, our flesh hates the thought of a giving life because it requires brokenness. Think about all those bestsellers whose titles imply blessings. Now imagine a different title on the shelves, this one called The Giving Life. You think, “I want to be a giver,” so you flip through the pages. You read of Paul, who speaks of being shipwrecked, beaten and stoned because he was called to give. You read of the other apostles who were persecuted because Jesus called them to a giving life. As you read along you soon realize, “This is not going to be a bestseller.”
That much was proven in Jesus’ day. The crowds stopped following Him when He began preaching difficult truths (see John 6). When the people turned for the exits, “Jesus said to the Twelve, ‘Do you want to go away as well?’ Simon Peter answered him, ‘Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God’” (John 6:67-69).
Jesus’ question puts us in the same position as the disciples. We have to trust that He is good and faithful. You see, we don't get to choose the agenda for our lives. If we did, we would all be getters, not givers. That’s why Jesus sets the agenda. And when He leads us down a hard path, we can be sure He does so in love.
The revealed will of God is the practical part of His will, to which all of us are collectively called. You do not have to go searching all over the place for it—it is right there in the Bible. If you take a concordance and look under the word “will,” you will see that the will of God is clearly revealed throughout the Scriptures, particularly in the New Testament. Let’s look at some examples.
The apostle Paul says, “For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor” (1 Thessalonians 4:3-4). This is where we need to start, especially in this generation. We must turn away from sexual immorality in all of its forms. We must ask God for the strength to live a holy life, set apart for Him.
Continuing in First Thessalonians, we find another example of the revealed will of God: “In everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:18). In everything give thanks—which means you ought to give thanks for the home you are in, the marriage you are in, the job you have, the family you are a part of. Learn to be thankful instead of constantly praying, “Oh, God, get me out of here and I will serve You; get me out of here and I will love You! There will be no greater worshiper than me if You will just get me out of this place!”
But the Lord says, “No, that is not My will! My will is that you learn to give thanks where you are. You are going to learn to win the victory where I have placed you.”
As you continue to read through the Scriptures, you will find that it is also the will of God that we learn to speak the truth. After all, this is a kingdom of truth, and we represent the One who said, “I am the way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6). It is the will of God that we be loyal and dependable, and that we do not quit when things do not go right. Be loyal in the workplace as an employee who shows up on time and leaves at the proper time.
Don’t be a person who does the will of God only when it feels right or if it is convenient. Ask God for a heart to genuinely care about other people.
Carter Conlon joined the pastoral staff of Times Square Church in 1994 at the invitation of the founding pastor, David Wilkerson, and was appointed Senior Pastor in 2001.
Suppose that just before Jesus ascended—as He envisions His Church and the harvest prior to His return—He foresees a falling away. His soul is grieved, because He sees rampant backsliding. Instead of reaping a white harvest, His people spend their time and energy seeking worldly success and material things.
So Jesus says to the Father, “They won’t get the harvest in. All the white fields lie dormant. I’m going to send a host of angels to do the reaping.” The Father agrees, and suddenly thousands of celestial beings appear on the earth, glowing with supernatural radiance.
What a sight this would be: otherworldly beings, clothed in glory, speaking in churches and in public. They are interviewed by newspaper reporters, and on radio and TV. They talk of the cross, the resurrection, the ascension, Christ’s love, and a final judgment to come. And they speak with such eloquence and conviction that everyone is enthralled. They’re like so many Jonahs, wooing and warning the world.
Now suppose that after a short time, these same radiant angels become enthralled with the world around them. They are taken in by fine foods, material goods, wealth and security. And soon they start striving for success, fame and fortune. Before long, they become jealous of each other, showing anger, pride, envy and covetousness.
In other words, they become just like the Church today! I ask you, how much influence would they have on the world? How could they expect to bring in a harvest, being so caught up in worldliness? Their testimony would be discounted and they would be drained of all spiritual power, going about discouraged, fearful and doubting.
Tell me, why would anyone want my gospel if they saw me in this state, stressed out and joyless? Why would they believe my message, “Jesus is sufficient, my everything, my constant supply,” if I am always fearful and worried, with no peace?
No one would listen to a word I said. Instead, they would wonder, “What difference does your Christ make? He doesn’t seem to be much of a physician if you’re always in this condition.”
Beloved, our countenance counts. Listen to what Christ says of His Bride in the Song of Solomon: “O my dove . . . let me see thy countenance, let me hear thy voice; for sweet is thy voice, and thy countenance is comely” (Song of Solomon 2:14). Christ is saying to us, in essence, “I want to see your smile.” Does that describe your countenance?
Jesus declared, “The fields are ripe, and the harvest plentiful. It’s time to begin reaping” (see Matthew 9:37-38). At that moment, the great, final spiritual harvest began among the Jews and Gentiles of Jesus’ generation. And this same harvest is going to last until Christ returns.
As I read this passage, I wonder what Jesus saw in His time that caused Him to say, “The harvest is ready, so now is the time to reap.” Did He see a spiritual awakening in Israel? Was there revival in the synagogues? Were priests turning back to God? Were scribes and Pharisees being convicted? What evidence was there that the harvest was ripe?
The gospels don’t reveal much evidence of any spiritual move toward God. If anything, they show the opposite. Jesus was mocked in the synagogues. The nation’s spiritual leaders rejected Him, questioning His integrity and divinity. One religious crowd even tried to throw Him over a cliff. Christ Himself upbraided Israel’s cities for not repenting at His message: “Woe, Chorazin! Woe, Bethsaida! Woe, Tyre and Sidon! Woe, Capernaum!” (see Matthew 11:21-23).
As for the multitudes, they were embroiled in chaotic despair. Scripture tells us, “When he saw them they were like sheep without a shepherd” (see Matthew 9:36). Here was a society that was fearful, stressed out, depressed. The people ran about wildly, like scattered sheep, looking for help anywhere they could find it. Yet it was at this very point of great distress that Christ declared, “The fields are ripe, and the harvest is plentiful.”
Do you think Jesus’ words about a ripe harvest apply today? Where do we see evidence that the fields are white and ready to be reaped? Are nations repenting? Is there a great stirring in our society? And is the organized church waking up? Are religious leaders hungering for revival, seeking Christ anew? Is there a cry for holiness in this generation?
With few exceptions, I don’t see any such things happening. Yet, none of these is what moved Jesus in His time. Rather, He was moved by the sad conditions He saw on every side. Everywhere He looked, people were overwhelmed with distress and He said, “It’s time to begin reaping.”
“When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion on them, because they fainted, and were scattered abroad, as sheep having no shepherd. Then saith he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the labourers are few; pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth labourers into his harvest” (Matthew 9:36–38).
Jesus made it plain: “The harvest is ripe, but the laborers are few.” So, why are there so few laborers? Churches today are packed with believers who claim Christ is their very life. Millions of dollars are spent on erecting worship centers everywhere.
The truth is, if we’re not capable of reaping souls—if our lives don’t reflect the transforming power of the gospel we preach—then we have discounted ourselves as laborers. Our walk with Christ should offer proof to the world that God’s promises are true.
As laborers, we are the harvest instruments in the Lord’s hand. In the days of Christ, such an instrument was a scythe, a long, curved, single-edged blade with a long handle. It was forged by a blacksmith, who put it into a fire, then placed it on an anvil, where he pounded and bent it into shape. Then the whole process was repeated again and again, until the cutting edge was filed with a rough-edged surface.
The parallel is clear: God is forging laborers. He isn’t just pounding away at sin. And this forging process explains why the laborers are few. The majority of churchgoers are like the thousands who volunteered to go with Gideon in the Old Testament. God saw fear in many of them, knowing they wouldn’t endure the fire, the pounding, the hard times. And out of the thousands who followed Gideon, only three hundred were chosen.
The same thing happens today. Those who are truly called to harvest are called to endure the refining, shaping fires and the continual hammering. Yet, not many endure.
Scripture shows that David, Job and other Old Testament saints came out of their dark times by remembering God’s faithfulness to past generations. David writes that whenever his heart was desolate, “I remember the days of old; I meditate on all thy works; I muse on the work of thy hands” (Psalm 143:5). Asaph, who wrote twelve of the Psalms, did the same: “I will remember the works of the Lord: surely I will remember thy wonders of old” (77:11). Indeed, Asaph says that all of Israel “remembered that God was their rock” (78:35).
It’s a wonderful blessing to remember all our past deliverances. Deuteronomy tells us, “Thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee. . . . Beware that thou forget not” (Deuteronomy 8:2, 11).
Yet, remembering God’s deliverances was more than just a blessing to the Old Testament saints. It was a necessary discipline. The Israelites devised all sorts of rituals and observances to recall the Lord’s deliverances in their lives.
Likewise today, the Church of Jesus Christ is called to remember God’s past deliverances. We have been given a way to remember that is much better than in Old Testament times. You see, since the days of David and Asaph, God has poured out His Holy Spirit, and the Spirit now abides in our human bodies.
The Holy Spirit comforts us in our dark times and brings to our remembrance God’s past faithfulness. But He does more than that. The Spirit often gives us an understanding of the purpose behind our fiery trials so that our faith will not fail.
When we look at Asaph’s life we see that this devoted, godly man does not share any kind of understanding with us in Psalm 77. Simply put, we don’t know what his dark hour accomplished in his life. All he could tell us was, “Thy way [of God] is in the sea, and thy path in the great waters, and thy footsteps are not known” (Psalm 77:19). Asaph’s conclusion was, “God’s ways aren’t known. I don’t know why He allowed me to fall into such depression and discouragement. I only rejoice that He has made me free.”
It is the Father’s nature to give. A child who grows up in a giving home learns to share, and Jesus has His Father’s giving nature. Now Jesus is beckoning us to carry on the family name through a giving life.
To do this, Christ supplies us with a powerful image at the Last Supper. He lifts up the bread and wine and says, “This bread is my body, broken for you. And this cup is my blood, poured out for you” (see Mark 14:22-23). Note what Jesus then does with the bread: He blesses it, breaks it and gives it. In doing this, Christ demonstrates to us what a poured-out life looks like. It is blessed. It is broken. And it is given away. That’s what it looks like to be a son or daughter of the living God.
This is the central difference between the average human being, whose primary aim is to meet his own needs, and someone who has found out life’s purpose and pours himself out for others. In Christ, we are called to move from a “getting” life to a “giving” life. Jesus empowers this transition for us in the Spirit, replacing our worldly spirit with His own godly Spirit. He tells us, “You have been blessed by Me and now you are meant to give those blessings away.”
This is a glorious theology—but it’s the hardest transition we will ever make in life. Over the past few years the top-selling Christian books have focused on the “getting” side of life. Their central theme is how God longs to bless His children. We know that’s true of God because of His giving nature; He wants to open the windows of heaven to pour out His mighty resources on us. He does indeed want to bless our marriage, our health, our finances. So these best-selling books have their place, and I admit I’ve drawn help from some of them myself.
But there’s something missing in these books. There is something much better than a blessed life of getting—and that is a broken life of giving. A getting life is easy; a giving life is difficult—and rewarding.
Remember, He blessed. He broke. He gave away. Often in the church this process breaks down after the first step. Many Christians don’t get past the blessing part. They don’t allow their lives to be broken before God, so they never make it to the last step—giving. Thus they never see the fulfillment of God’s purpose in blessing us.
We live in a time when a worldwide threat of planned nuclear or chemical explosion looms. The hearts of millions of people are failing them for fear, and the Church of Jesus Christ is being challenged as never before in history. We are looking out at a world that is spinning into chaos.
As I survey all this, I ask: “Where is the voice of authority in Christ? Where are the shepherds, the congregations, the lay Christians who are thinking as Jesus does? Where are those who aren’t pursuing their own agendas, but are seeking the mind of the Lord in these times?”
Those focused only on bettering themselves are drifting away from intimacy with Christ. They may preach Christ, but they know Him less and less. And they’re opening themselves to great temptations.
I ask you: Is your church thriving, yet no one seems to be likeminded with Paul, setting their affections on Christ’s concerns? What about you? When you see someone who’s unemployed, do you pray for him? Do you seek ways to be of assistance, to serve?
Where are the young Timothys today? Where are the young men and women of God who will reject the siren call to success and recognition? Where are those who will set their hearts on fervent prayer, bringing everything in their lives under subjection to become true servants of Christ and His church?
Our prayer should be: “Lord, I don’t want to be focused only on myself in a world that’s spinning out of control. I don’t want to be concerned about my own future. I know You hold my path in Your hands. Please, Lord, give me Your mind, Your thinking, Your concerns. I want to have Your servant’s heart.”
“Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine (teaching); continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee” (1 Timothy 4:16).
It was from a jail cell in Rome that Paul wrote to the Philippian church and declared that he had the mind of Christ: “I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy shortly unto you, that I also may be of good comfort, when I know your state” (Philippians 2:19).
This is the thinking, the outworking, of the mind of Christ. Think about it. Here was a pastor sitting in jail, yet he wasn’t thinking of his own comfort, his own hard situation. He was concerned only about the spiritual and physical condition of his people. And he told his sheep, “My comfort will come only when I know you’re doing well, in spirit and body. So I’m sending Timothy to check up on you on my behalf.”
Then Paul makes this alarming statement: “For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state” (2:20). What a sad statement! As Paul wrote this, the church around him in Rome was growing and being blessed. Clearly, there were godly leaders in the Roman church. But Paul says, “I have no man who shares with me the mind of Christ.” Why was this so?
“For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (2:21). Evidently, there was no leader in Rome with a servant’s heart—no one who had cast aside reputation and become a living sacrifice. Instead, everyone was set on pursuing his own interests. None had the mind of Christ. Paul could trust no one to go to Philippi to be a true servant to that body of believers.
Paul’s words here cannot be softened: “Everybody is out for himself. These ministers seek only to benefit themselves. That’s why nobody here can be trusted to naturally care for your needs and hurts—except Timothy.”
As we look around the church today, we see the same thing going on in many congregations. Ministers and parishioners alike are going after the things of this world: money, reputation, materialism, success. They are called to serve the Church of Jesus Christ, but they don’t know the mind of Christ. And Jesus’ mind-set is one of sacrifice, love and concern for others.
If my heart is motivated by the approval of others—if that is my mindset, influencing the way I live—my loyalties will be divided. I’ll always be striving to please someone other than Jesus.
A few years after the apostle Paul was converted, he went to the church in Jerusalem to try to join the disciples there. “But they were all afraid of him, and believed not that he was a disciple” (Acts 9:26).
The apostles knew Paul’s reputation as a persecutor. “[I] was unknown by face unto the churches of Judea which were in Christ: but they had heard only, that he which persecuted us in times past now preacheth the faith which once he destroyed” (Galatians 1:22–23).
Barnabas helped the apostles get over their fear of Paul, and they offered him fellowship. But Paul decided to itinerate among the Gentiles. Indeed, Paul is careful to describe his calling very clearly. He states that it came “not of men, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Galatians 1:1).
He then adds emphatically: “I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. . . . I conferred not with flesh and blood” (1:11–12, 16).
What Paul is saying here applies to all who desire to have the mind of Christ: “I didn’t have to read books or borrow men’s methods to get what I have. I received my message, my ministry and my anointing on my knees. I tell you, these things came while I was shut in with the Lord, interceding and fasting. Any revelation of Christ I have comes from the Holy Spirit, who abides in me and leads my life. I cannot allow myself to follow the trends and devices of others.”
In fact, Paul points out that before he ever considered going back to Jerusalem, “I went into Arabia” (1:17). He’s saying, in other words: “I didn’t get my revelation of Christ from the saints in Jerusalem. Instead, I went to the desert to have Christ revealed to me. I spent precious time there, being emptied of self, hearing and being taught by the Holy Spirit.”
Please understand: Paul wasn’t some proud, arrogant preacher. He had a servant’s heart and had emptied himself of all ambition, finding total satisfaction in Christ. Paul wouldn’t need a single person to show him how to preach Christ, or how to win sinners to the gospel. The Holy Spirit was his teacher!
There are dire, awful consequences for neglecting prayer. “How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation” (Hebrews 2:3). How can any of us in Christ expect to avoid the consequences of prayerlessness?
I know what it’s like to have the highway of blessings in my life slowly become uncharted. I know what it’s like to have the well of living water choked at the spring and every blessing in my life dried up. That’s what happened during my periods of carelessness about prayer.
In those times, my prayer life consisted only of meditation and quiet times. I had no effectual fervency in prayer. Why? Because the cares of life robbed me of my time with the Lord.
So, what happened to me in those times? Servanthood turned to self-pity. Ministry seemed like a burden, not a blessing. And misery upon misery flooded my soul.
I battled loneliness, weariness, unbelief, a troubling sense of having accomplished little in life, even thoughts of quitting the ministry. And the blessings of God were hindered. My relationships soured, I lost discernment, and fresh revelations of Christ no longer came.
Yet I also knew the glory of returning to be with the Lord in prayer. As soon as I returned to my prayer closet, the blessings began flowing again. I had joy and peace, relationships were healed, and God’s Word came to life.
“[Uzziah] sought God in the days of Zechariah . . . and as long as he sought the Lord, God made him to prosper” (2 Chronicles 26:5). “[King Asa] sought the Lord . . . and he hath given us rest on every side” (14:7). “All Judah . . . sought him with their whole desire; and he was found of them: and the Lord gave them rest round about” (15:15).
Scripture makes it clear that praying servants find blessing and rest on every side.
“The righteous cry, and the Lord heareth, and delivereth them out of all their troubles. The Lord is nigh unto them that are of a broken heart; and saveth such as be of a contrite spirit” (Psalm 34:17-18).
It was the night of the Last Supper, and Jesus was winding down His final conversation with the disciples. Everything He said that evening was with the knowledge that He was about to leave them. He concluded the gathering with an encouraging prayer about things to come—a Church that would overcome and be triumphant; a people whose love for each other would be a testimony to the world; a divine power and authority flowing through His followers; and the glory of the Father resting on His people. These were all things Jesus would give to His Church through the Holy Spirit.
Think about what Jesus had already done. In three years of ministry He had healed the sick; restored eyesight to the blind; raised the dead; miraculously fed huge crowds; preached the good news to the poor; and taught the masses the truth about their heavenly Father. This is an amazing list of accomplishments by the Son through His obedience to the Father’s will.
Christ makes clear that all of this was a result of the Father’s giving nature. In His prayer in John 17, one word (give) comes up more than any other. “Father, you have given me . . . you have given them . . . I have given them.” In the space of 26 verses, Jesus uses some form of the word “give” seventeen times.
The first thing we notice in this amazing prayer is how often and generously the Father gives. It’s in His nature to give good gifts to His children. He listed all that He would give His Son when He sent Him: “I’ll give You the power and authority of My name. I’ll give You the people of the earth. I’ll give You words to speak and works to accomplish. And I will give You My glory.”
In turn, we see that Jesus has the same giving nature as His Father. In fact, His prayer recounts all the things Christ had already given His disciples—and the things He would continue to give! This passage powerfully spotlights the giving nature at the center of God’s heart.
In a sense, that evening Jesus gave the disciples His last will and testament. He was saying, “I established My kingdom by giving. And here’s how I want My kingdom to continue through you.” The last thing He gave His followers before leaving them was a particular calling—the calling to give.
I grew up in an environment where no one expressed emotion. It was simply a question of survival! When I came to know the Lord, so many things changed. I will be eternally grateful for my first years in the faith and for those who so patiently taught me and guided me in my first steps with God. They are my spiritual mothers and fathers and I love them. However, in the mentality of the evangelical church of that era, the same attitude existed: We don’t talk about problems and pain; lift up your head and walk strong; we can do it, go, go, go! And that attitude, now wrapped in Bible verses, persists: “We can do all things . . . rejoice always . . . in everything give thanks . . . lift your eyes . . . lift up your head . . . you’re a soldier! Up! Up! Up!”
Dear friend, when we stand with our head held high, shoulders straight, and eyes toward the sky, His arms are carrying us. Now don’t miss this. When our eyes stare downward and we are weary and beaten, in the desert, through famines and sorrow, despairing because of what has been lost or destroyed, it is written, “Underneath are the everlasting arms.” “A broken reed He will not throw away” (Isaiah 42:3).
The children who played all day on the banks of the lakes where Isaiah grew up (he is the one who gives us this incredible promise) knew this game. They would pick up a reed ever so cautiously, and as they blew into it, a high pitched, flute-like sound would fill the air as the kids laughed and screamed with delight. If the fragile reed broke, it would become useless, so they would throw it away and pick up another one. But God says, “I will not throw away what has been broken.” In essence, He is saying to you, “If your life has lost its melody, its song, if your prayer or praise is gone, if your silence screams for your altar at night, I will restore you. I will come and nurse the reed for as long as it takes, until you have recaptured your music and your joy before me.”
God says, “I don’t throw people away; I will not give up on you. Build your altar and I will rebuild you. I will not put out the flame that is still burning.”
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.