“A voice said, “Shout!” I asked, “What should I shout?” “Shout that people are like the grass. Their beauty fades as quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord. And so it is with people. The grass withers and the flowers fade, but the word of our God stands forever.” O Zion, messenger of good news, shout from the mountaintops! Shout it louder, O Jerusalem. Shout, and do not be afraid. Tell the towns of Judah, “Your God is coming!”” Isaiah 40:6-9 NLT
I don’t know why exactly, but this passage in Isaiah grabbed me when I read it again a few weeks ago. Isaiah is being told to go and deliver a specific message: we humans inhabit space and time for a moment, but God is forever. He is eternal and eternally true and faithful. I don’t know what your track record for faithfulness is, but mine is a little shoddy in some aspects. I have never been unfaithful to my husband – I guard my marriage and my heart to keep that from ever being an option. My record with healthy eating and exercise, on the other hand, is awful. (Maybe I need to apply the same fervor I have for protecting my marriage to protecting my body…) My discipline at writing is improving but clearly goes through spurts of faithfulness. Thank God, God isn’t like that at all, in any aspect. He is thoroughly faithful, so we can trust him.
Why is that important, you may ask? I mean, sure, we can trust God. Every kid who attends a single Sunday school class will hear that a gazillion times in an hour. It’s easy to accept that we can trust God, but what does it mean in real life outside of church? It means you can act on what you believe. You can shout! If God is faithful, and his word is true, then you have the most solid foundation on which to build your entire belief system. You have a standard for thought and behavior that applies to your entire life. And you can shout!
Why does the crazy lady keep saying, “You can shout,” you may ask? Because it’s true. YOU can shout. But I’m not a preacher, or a Sunday school teacher, or a worship music leader, or… Whatever you just threw up as a defense, can we agree to drop it and lower our guards for a moment? The beauty of trusting God’s word is that you can believe him when he tells us that each one of us is uniquely gifted and equipped to share his love.
You are uniquely gifted and equipped to create, and in so doing, share God’s character and his love. You. Can. Shout.
Go back and read the very first line of this Bible passage. “A voice said, ‘Shout!’ I asked, ‘What should I shout?’” I love this thought. The voice is God telling Isaiah to go out and yell something to his people. Go create. Go paint or write or bake or run or organize… But what should I create? The wonderful thing God does for Isaiah here is he gives him the message to share through his creativity. This probably won’t happen in such an obvious manner at the outset of your creative career; it may not happen so obviously even after you’ve been creating with God for years, but if you ask him to join you and guide you as you create, he’ll give you the message if you’ll listen.
Isaiah gives us a model of creating with God: first answer his calling on your life, then answer his call to be creative with the gifts he’s given you, and then express the message he’s given you to tell. Isaiah was a prophet who often relayed God’s messages to the people. Consistently, he’d been shouting a single message: “God is coming! Get ready!” It took on various forms, and up to this point in the narrative, many of those messages had included “Woe to those who…” You can browse the chapter headings and get a pretty good idea. Isaiah had practiced the habit of listening for God’s message and repeating it through his creative talents. Over and over and over – 39 chapter’s worth of practice is documented for us until we get to this point in Isaiah’s story.
So when God tells Isaiah to shout, he doesn’t hesitate; he just asks what he should shout. There was no question that Isaiah would practice his art. The only question was what the exact message should be.
That’s my goal in creating; I want the only question about my writing and drawing/painting to be, “What is the message supposed to be today?” And that’s what I want for you, too. I pray that will know what your gifts are and that you will practice your talent so much that it’s just like breathing. I pray that God will show himself to you in those times in such a way that you will recognize that this is your God-given gift, and he will meet you in it when you use it faithfully. And most of all, I pray that God will use you to shout his story of love and grace.
One more thing I love about this passage, this entire chapter and the ones that follow, is that this marks a shift in tone for Isaiah. There were a lot of “woes” before Chapter 40, but here the chapter opens with “Comfort…” Classical music fans may recognize this text from Handel’s “Messiah.” There is a beautiful piece that almost verbatim quotes the opening of this chapter. I highly recommend reading it if you want to feel like God is giving you a hug; it’s a wonderful reminder that he wants nothing more than to love us and to see us excel.
Maybe your gift isn’t public speaking like Isaiah’s was, but you do have a gift, and God wants you to use it. I will be sharing some posts over the next month to help you discover your talents if you’re not sure what they are (and affirm you if you’re sure you know what they are). If you want to join the conversation that’s already started in the Mabbat FB group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/773975689656609/?ref=bookmark), jump in there, and you’ll also be able to practice drawing and writing with the prompts in the Bible study posted each week. We’re currently in Colossians.
You can SHOUT! So what are you going to shout this week? You can do this; you don’t have to be afraid because God is with you. He is for you, and I am cheering for you, too. Get out there and get loud!