Monday, January 09, 2012
Today’s Topic: Inoculate Me!
Today’s Text: Isaiah 56:6-7 And foreigners who bind themselves to the LORD to serve him, to love the name of the LORD, and to worship him, all who keep the Sabbath without desecrating it and who hold fast to my covenant—7 these I will bring to my holy mountain and give them joy in my house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house will be called a house of prayer for all nations.
Prior to my trip to the Philippines in October I met twice with the travel nurse at my medical clinic. It was necessary to review my inoculation records so that I would be sufficiently protected from any potential tropical disease to which I might be exposed. We looked at maps that displayed the regional diseases and discussed the exact itinerary of my trip. After careful consideration of the risks, two vaccines were chosen of the possible four, and I was inoculated. One of them required a second dose, and I’m still waiting for the third dose in a few weeks. Not to worry, I was protected after two doses but the third dose makes it permanent.
There is much debate in our day about the value of vaccines, especially for children. Are the risks of inoculation worth the benefits? If I stretch my mind way out I can see where that same debate takes place in my spiritual life. Let me explain in just one area of our lives that is addressed in Isaiah 56:6-7.
In this encouraging chapter of hope, God is informing those who are on the outside that they will be fully accepted into the Kingdom of the Messiah with full benefits. Those who had been excluded will now be included. In the past they had felt like sub-standard people who weren’t good enough to be invited to an exclusive club. They saw the power and provision of the One True God, but had no access to Him. They had been left without hope and without joy.
Suddenly word comes down from the CEO that the membership policy has been revised so that now anyone was welcome. My mind is visualizing a scenario like this in America at the Augusta National Golf Club in Georgia. If you know anything about that place and its history, you know that if word got out that they were making the course public, there would be lines starting at every airport in America as men and women raced to get there to play just one round of golf. I would be in one of those lines.
I imagine that when God invited all the excluded to be included in His Kingdom with full benefits that there was an equal amount of enthusiasm. The house of God was being opened to everyone, regardless of race, creed, nationality, political preference, financial status, or physical disability. The weak, the hurting, the guilty, and the untouchable would have equal access to the altar of God. Their hopelessness would be replaced with joy.
Joy. In case you were wondering about the tangents I was taking, that’s where I was going. JOY! That inner peace and contentment of knowing that regardless of our circumstances or feelings, our Sovereign God is working out His eternal purpose independent of us, yet beneficial to us. JOY! That inexpressible quality that supersedes the feeling of happiness because it is not based on what is happening but rather on what has happened when we were welcomed into the House of God. JOY! It is “peace dancing in our lives.” (F.B. Meyer)
But here’s the hard part – at least it’s hard from the standpoint of maintaining the dedication needed to experiencing joy. God connects joy with prayer. Outsiders will be granted joy not just by having access to the House of God, but to the house of prayer. God declares that His house will be a house of prayer. That’s the vaccine. If we want to be inoculated against hopelessness and despair, we must be determined to pray. If we will avoid the downfalls of discouragement, we must pray. If we are to overcome the deepening feelings of fear based on the political and social condition of the world, we must pray. Prayer is the vaccine against all the diseases of the heart and mind that destroy joy.
But in our minds we debate the need for prayer. We turn to our own remedies first. We consider the risks of prayer and let them influence us: risks like time commitment that will affect our schedule of events, or the hurtful words of others who will accuse us of being overly spiritual when they see the power of God being lived out in our lives. So powerful are those arguments in the hands of our enemy that we dare to even consider not being inoculated. We even ask why joy is really all that big of a deal. Really?
Today, I cry out to my Lord – “Inoculate Me!” In response, God says “Come into my clinic. You will recognize it by the sign out front. It says, House of Prayer.”