Bitter for Sweet . . .

While we were between trips and waiting to bring Anna home from Bulgaria, I don’t think a single night went by that I slept all night through. During those months between meeting her and picking her up, I struggled hugely with anxiety and fear about the future. Meeting Anna . . . seeing her needs, her huge delays and possible medical needs, how malnourished and neglected she was . . . it was all disconcerting to say the least. And so I would fall asleep each night completely exhausted and wake in the very early morning hours with all the “what ifs???” running marathons through my mind. To stay sane, I started praying through those wakeful hours. And in that I found myself asking God to give me a scripture for Anna. I thought we were bringing home a docile, meek, tiny princess so I fully expected a poetic, soft verse from the Psalms. What I didn’t know was we were bringing home a warrior princess . . . strong willed and a fighter through and through . . . and one morning, as I was somewhere between sleep and wakefulness, God gave me a warrior’s scripture for her . . . ” ‘No weapon formed against you shall prosper, and every tongue that rises against you in judgment You shall condemn. This is the heritage of the servants of the LORD, And their righteousness is from Me,’ says the Lord.” (Isaiah 54:17) And while I will never say that it has been easy, God has shown Himself faithful through these words time and again.

All that to say, God speaks to me deeply and intimately through His word. I will read a scripture a thousand times and then, suddenly, it will jump out at me in a whole new and fresh way. So each year, instead of coming up with resolutions, goals, or a word of the year (all of which are fantastic but not my thing right now), I’ve started asking God to give me a scripture(s) for the year. Last year, He really used Psalm 19 to speak to me, and Psalm 19:14, “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord, My strength and my Redeemer,” in particular, spoke to me. And seeing as how I didn’t exactly master this in 2019 (because I’m a type A, Enneagram 1 perfectionist and need to get it right all. the. time.), I just assumed I’d carry that straight into 2020. Learning to be a work in progress is a work in progress . . . mull on that for a minute.

But the first couple weeks of this year God (again with the “but God”) dropped two scriptures in my heart, and I just couldn’t get them out of my mind. “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter! Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!” Isaiah 5:20-21

And I thought about these scriptures for a long time. Because, honestly, they seemed so obscure to me. So strange and not terribly inspiring at first glance. And then I thought, “What a reflection on our current society and culture?” We live in such a twisted world that takes the truth of God’s word and either disregards it completely or changes it to fit its own agenda. Definitely a scripture for our times. But, while that’s true, that wasn’t exactly it either. At least not fully. As I reflected on these words . . . “call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!” I thought about my own personal life. It is so easy in the monotony of the everyday . . . the cooking and cleaning . . . the shuttling of kids to school and games . . . the homework and laundry . . . the raising of my kids (one of whom has hit puberty and whose mouth runs before his brain thinks . . . Jesus take the wheel . . . ) . . . the ins and outs of a very good but often (maybe too) comfortable marriage . . . it’s often so easy to think “this is boring . . . I’m tired . . . I deserve more . . . ” and I took these scriptures as a pre-emptive strike, if you will, against all those things. To never look at all I have and call evil good, and good evil. To never replace light with darkness or call darkness light. To never put bitter where what I have is very very sweet or to call those very bitter things of the world “sweet”. To carefully nuture and guard and tend what I’ve been given. To pray more diligently for my family. To not take for granted ALL the good I have. And to marry it to the scripture God gave me last year to “Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart” be pleasing to God.

I know I’m not the only one to which this speaks. Which is why, after a couple weeks of mulling it over, I decided to share. I’ll also add this before I sign off for the weekend, God is no respecter of persons, and I’m not unique. If He’ll speak to my heart, He’ll speak to yours. Read His word. Devotionals are great. Biblically sound teaching is wonderful. But open up the bible and read His word for yourself. I promise He will meet you there.

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