A devotion shared at my college’s Chapel service today…
“In that day,” declares the Lord,
“I will gather the lame;
I will assemble the exiles
and those I have brought to grief.
I will make the lame my remnant,
those driven away a strong nation.
The Lord will rule over them in Mount Zion
from that day and forever.
This reading that I chose for today, from Micah 4, is from a series of readings titled the Lenten cross, that I’ve been following on and off through the season of Lent. This set of readings is similar to the idea of the Jesse tree, but follows the Messianic prophecies through the Old Testament and matches each with its fulfillment in the Crucifixion narrative. The reading for today, for this 25th day of Lent, is a prophecy about the new order, the new way of things that would begin with Jesus on the cross.
I was particularly struck by these verses, which the NIV translation subtitles “The Lord’s Plan”. In these verses is a declaration about who will be involved in God’s plan. To paraphrase, God says, “I will gather together the lame, the exiles, those who have been grieved. I will rule over them from that day til forevermore.” That was what struck me. God wasn’t saying that the plan was for the strong, or for the popular, or for those who’ve only ever experienced good in life. God’s plan was, and I suppose still is, for the weak and the outcast and those who have experienced pain.
Back at the beginning of Lent, before the busyness of semester got the better of me, I was writing (almost) daily devotionals based on each of the readings in the Lenten cross. And back on day 1, Ash Wednesday, was a passage from Joel 2 that read, “Even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning.”
And I wrote the following reflection –
How often do we feel that something is beyond us? We might feel like we’ve stuffed up too badly, or that we’re a disappointment, or that we’re not good enough, or we’ve let someone down, or it just all seems too hard, or…?
And yet, God will still always say “Even now”. ‘“Even now” return to me. “Even now” you are still my child. “Even now” you are loved. “Even now” there is nothing you can do to separate yourself from me.’
Even now, even when we feel weak or less than or worn out, or feel like things just aren’t fair, God’s plan is still for us. A plan where God is going to gather us in – maybe like a mother hen and we’re each one of her beloved chicks – and still be our God.
In a minute we’ll be singing, or you may prefer to just listen, to a song that starts with the words
Let the weak say, “I am strong”
Let the poor say, “I am rich”
Let the blind say, “I can see”
“It’s what the Lord has done in me”
That first line is reminiscent of a verse in Joel 3 – ‘let the weakling say, “I am a warrior”’. The book of Joel itself paints a picture of the new order, the new way of things that is coming, when God’s Spirit would be poured out, when God will confront the evil among the nations, and when all of creation will be renewed. And, it will be when God gathers together the lame, the exiles, those who have been grieved, for God’s plan is for the weak, the poor and the blind, for the less than and the worn out, for those who are tired of feeling like things just aren’t fair. That’s who God’s plan is for.