This morning I woke up early and left the coach to go downtown to the local coffee shop to do my morning devotions. It was too hot to do them outside and the 300 square feet inside Blaze (our motorhome) with three kids, makes quiet time…impossible.
I ordered a dry cappuccino, sat down in a comfortable leather chair and turned on a Jesus Culture playlist on my iPhone. I was immediately in heaven! Good coffee, quiet space and my beloved Bible.
Now I am ashamed to admit that my Bible has been a little dusty these past few days as we’ve traveled across South Dakota and into Iowa. I’ve been relying on podcasts and YouVersion to feed my spiritual fire. Great tools for sure, but that’s like feasting on a diet fast food. True nourishment for me is time alone with God and His Word, and nothing else.
I picked up my Bible and cracked it open. A smile immediately came across my face. It fell open to the same place it has for the last year—Isaiah 43.
Let me stop for a moment and share something.
For ten years there was one chapter in the Bible that I could not escape—Psalm 91. Specifically, the first verse. I would constantly be drawn to it on a weekly basis. I lost count how many times my Bible would fall open and my eyes immediately focus on that familiar, highlighted and underlined page. Every message, every thought I had always connected back to that verse. It was and has been my life scripture for over a decade.
I’m not claiming something supernatural was at play. It could very well be that I had worn my Bible in to the point that Psalm 91 was the most turned to page. That would certainly explain why it always opened to that spot. However, that would only further prove just how much that passage meant to me.
Then something happened.
I was sitting in my office in the fall of 2015 reading Isaiah 43. It was one of those times that a familiar passage suddenly felt like you were reading it for the first time. I wrote in my journal some thoughts and then in big huge letters I penned the word “SHIFT!” Under that I wrote, “This passage will guide the next ten years of our ministry.”
That day, Jenna called me up excited to share something the Lord clearly spoke to her as she was driving down the highway. She said the Lord was shouting the word, “SHIFT” to her.
The Lord was speaking the same thing to us at the same time. I love how clearly God speaks! We both knew He was directing us to shift everything and begin to perceive things differently concerning ministry. We began to dream beyond what we previously thought possible. It was that moment that cemented in our minds the journey in which we are currently engaged.
What has been unique is that ever since that day, Isaiah 43 has replaced Psalm 91 as the default starting point of my devotions. I had spent ten years meditating on Psalm 91 and found it fresh every time. It helped guide my own personal pursuit of God and was the conclusion for my first book, Receptivity. Now, as we’ve embarked on a new journey of faith towards seeing a national shift and the start of a spiritual reformation, Isaiah 43 has become the passage directing those steps. It’s the next decade!
Over the past week as I’ve missed that quiet time, I’ve found myself being confronted with my own doubts. Its my own fault. Time away from the word, always produces worry for me. The questions that flood my mind are… Are we doing the right thing? Is this truly worth it? Will we actually see what we’ve both dreamed about? Did we miss something along the journey? Is it time to stop?
I’m sure you know this scenario so well! You have a big idea, an amazing vision and feel the excitement of that initial spark. You hold your breath and you take the plunge. Then all hell breaks loose. You thought everyone would immediately buy into the vision and celebrate with you. You imagined that there would be a magic moment when everything would start coming together and it would work out beyond your wildest expectations. Then the storm came along with the relentless rain. The river began to rise around you and all your dreams were swept away. The fire followed and consumed what remained. You reached the point of giving up, doubting what you heard.
Maybe it’s just me. Maybe you’ve never been here, but I’ve found this place often.
Then this morning I sit down and I am immediately drawn back into Isaiah 43 which begins with this powerful, thus says the Lord:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.”
Oh how wonderful it is to hear the Lord say, “Fear not!”
Just like Peter, who walked away from a boat in the midst of a stormy sea. He didn’t do so until he heard the voice of the One who knew him by name say, “Come”. He was emboldened by that voice and took a step of faith that to this day has been unrivaled. Often that leap of faith looks foolish in the eyes of everyone else, but to One who called you, that step is perfect!
The Lord says, Fear Not and then offers the following reasons to trust Him. He says, “Don’t be afraid because I’ve already rescued you. Even if I falter in the step, He promises to be there to pull me up! He says, Don’t fear because I’ve call you by name. He didn’t just call out to anyone, but to someone. He called my name and gave a specific commission. He says, Don’t be afraid because you are mine!” I can trust my Father, just like a child in the arms of dad. Wow!
What has God called you to? What step of faith are you hesitating to take as it stands before you? Let Isaiah 43 encourage you as it does me. Don’t be afraid to move into it and in the process see something you’ve never seen before.
For my family, that is not only seeing the nation, but believing to see national awakening. I hear my Father saying, “Don’t be afraid, Daniel. I’m with you!”
Those three powerful declarations from the Lord are followed up with three sobering images.
He says when you pass through the waters, He is there with you. When you go through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. When walking through the fire and flame you will not be burned or consumed. Every step of faith that you take He is with you!
Here, the Lord is preparing the bold faith walkers to face the storm that is certain to come.
James 4:2-4 reaffirms this thought, it says, “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”
I love this. James says to throw a party in the face of your adversity. Celebrate the hardships, don’t run from them. Understand that they are necessary. In fact they are the very route to the thing you’ve been believing for.
Do you hear it yet? Fear not! God is with you! He is for you! When the storm comes and though the fire may burn it will not consume you. Don’t lose your faith and don’t give up.
I’ve learned that opposition is the surest indication that I’m moving in the right direction. So many are deterred by it, I’m encouraged by it.
Is the wind presently in your face? Do you feel like you’re in the middle of the storm? My friend, it’s a good place to be! Don’t be afraid. If you have followed His voice onto the waves, He is right there with you! And yes, you will see exactly what He promised.
Now you know why I smiled this morning when I opened my Bible. I needed to be reminded that no matter what I may be feeling or facing, I’m moving in the right direction. I trust you are too!