"I, the Lord, have called You to demonstrate My righteousness. I will take You by the hand and guard You, and I will give You to My people, Israel, as a symbol of My covenant with them. And You will be a light to guide the nations. You will open the eyes of the blind. You will free the captives from prison, releasing those who sit in dark dungeons." (Isaiah 42-6-7, NLT)
A few days ago, I came across this declaration from the Father to the Son. The words, "I will take you by the hand…" jumped out at me, and I instantly had a picture of a father and son walking together. We know that Jesus walked in perfect peace with His father so this picture isn’t of an ornery toddler fighting against the restraint of his protective parent. Instead it’s the submissive, trusting child walking in the comfort, love, and protection of his loving father. As I meditated on these verses, it gave me a new image of what Jesus’ ministry looked like. Walking hand-in-hand, the Father brought Jesus to humanity for Him to be a light, a guide, a healer, and a liberator through His life, death, and resurrection. Just as Isaac walked with Abraham to be sacrificed, Jesus walked with His Father toward His sacrifice, without kicking, screaming, resisting, or escaping that handhold. And in doing that, He went just where the Father wanted Him to go and He sacrificed just what the Father told Him to sacrifice.
When I think about my own walking with the Father, I realize that I manage to let go of His hand way too often. I wiggle and squirm, fighting against the restraint, to go my own way, do my own thing, follow my own ambitions. Instead of being lovingly restrained, guided, and guarded, I run down my own path which leads to being overwhelmed, fearful, anxious, and tired. I take on responsibility that He hasn’t led me to shoulder. I try to live up to expectations that He doesn’t have for me. Ultimately, I make sacrifices that He isn’t asking of me. I sacrifice His promised peace. I sacrifice His fruit—compassion, joy, love, kindness, gentleness—so that I can check all the boxes off my list of good deeds.
It’s ironic, I know. I have a deep passion to love Him and serve Him with my all, which is good, but do I really trust Him to know how to lead me to do that? There are so many images throughout the Bible of letting ourselves be led by the Lord. Most of the images are of a weak and simple creation, being cared for by a gentle and loving Lord. We are sheep and He is the Shepherd; we are children and He is the Father; we are like birds and He is our provider and protector…but to be led by Him, we have to be willing to submit to His leading and trust that His plan is good and fruitful—and better than what we can come up with on our own! Warmly in Christ, Joy McAuley
"What can we bring to the Lord? Should we bring Him burnt offerings? Should we bow before God Most High with offerings of yearling calves? Should we offer Him thousands of rams and ten thousand rivers of olive oil? Should we sacrifice our firstborn children to pay for our sins? No, O people, the Lord has told you what is good, and this is what He requires of you: to do what is right, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God." (Micah 6:6-8, NLT)
Imagine you and the Father walking together. Are you pulling against His hand? Are you even holding hands, or are you off doing your own thing? Do you peacefully have your hand in the Father’s trusting Him where He leads?
As you look at your life and ministry, are you making any sacrifices that He might not be asking you to make? Is He asking you to make some sacrifices that you are resisting?
Use any of these questions as a springboard to conversation with your loving Father. He wants us to experience His gentle and loving leading.