Single in the Eyes of the Government
Updated: Dec 13, 2020
Reflections and rambles on identity, purpose, and the Lord's goodness from Isaiah chapter twelve.
The boxes for selection sit there, comfortably, immovable, while your eyes scan the options sincerely. Single, married, widowed. You place your 'x' neatly inside the square emphasizing the word 'single.'
Ding. A text from Babe. *Insert yellow heart emoji here.*
Maybe the reality unsettles you momentarily or maybe the moment vanishes like the mist that is our lives, escaping you unnoticeably.
Your stance there inside the doctor's office, your shoulders slouched over, reading the words that mock with aggression - that's the scene the pops into your head when considering the short six verses encapsulated amongst the words in Scripture, found in Isaiah 12.
On that day you will say: “I will give thanks to you, Lord, although you were angry with me. Your anger has turned away, and you have comforted me." Isaiah 12:1
There is a bigger picture to your life than the box you check on government papers. The truth of this statement is lost on you frequently. Verse one exclaims with fierceness the picture of where believers in Christ walk now, with wrath from God turned away from us, because the blood of Jesus now covers us.
Now, in Christ, you can say with boldness that the Lord comforts you. But can you? Stripped of dignity inside the doctor's office, you were left uncomfortable if the box-checking distressed you. What's your identity then? You're not single in your eyes. You're not married or engaged, you don't feel worth that. Maybe the weight of your past feels like your discrediting factor. Perhaps it's your anxiety that makes you sweat even in instances that are supremely overlooked by others, is that the factor that deems you unqualified in your own eyes?
Your identity, as a child of a King, is an identity of access to comfort, the one true Comforter is your Father. Not a misguided or hurtful Father, but a Father who loves you and knows your needs. There was a time you were not allowed at the table. You were a rebel of grace but now by the kindness of a loving Savior, Ruler, and Father, there is a place for you at His table. Comfort to be found and there's a spot to be known. Known for who you truly are, not for what governmental paperwork claims about you or what your wishful thinking clings too.
Indeed, God is my salvation; I will trust him and not be afraid, for the Lord, the Lord himself, is my strength and my song. He has become my salvation. Isaiah 12:2
You will trust Him and not be afraid. You will not be afraid of those words on the documents. You won't be afraid of the eternality that may attach themselves to those words. You won't be afraid of how those words may define you. You will trust Him and not be afraid. Why can you trust Him? How? He has proven Himself faithful.
The Lord, the Lord Himself, the sovereign Ruler and King, He doesn't just lavish and gift salvation, He is salvation. Do you know how badly you need this salvation? The words of the paper, they frighten. Your identity has been placed in titles, achievements, status, approval, vision, motivation, habits, relationships. Your misplaced identity is the neon sign of the need for this salvation.
There are songs you sing in the car with your windows cranked down. Country love songs with little music notes that fill the void in the air. Worship songs that direct your heart back to the truth of Scripture, and then back again to songs that sweep you up into a daydream about all that could be. The Lord is not this type of song. The Lord is a song of full worth that never leads astray. The Lord is the song that is filled of hope with future promises that are sure to come true. The song that Ray Ortlund explains will have you singing and dancing in the rain with unbridled joy.
The text of Isaiah 12 hinges on verse three. Verses one and two are about you. You singular. The you that was standing in the doctor's office, scorned by the boxes to be checked. Verse three brings perspective.
You will joyfully draw water from the springs of salvation Isaiah 12:3
You will joyfully draw water. Joyfully. Your terror, your box checking, you wouldn't call that joyful. Would you? What does Scripture call you to? To rejoice! Again Scriptures tells you, rejoice! There's a personal testimony and experience of Jesus that happens in verses one and two. And now, here you are, joyfully pulling up buckets of life-giving water from a well or a rushing stream. Praying this would be the reality for us. Joyfully approaching the Living water and drinking from it eternally.
And on that day you will say, “Give thanks to the Lord; proclaim his name! Make his works known among the peoples. Declare that his name is exalted." Isaiah 12:4
If life is something more than the boxes of identity, what is it about? You experience the personal salvation of the Lord, comforting you and offering you a seat at His table because His wrath, through Christ, has now been turned away from you. You joyfully draw from the springs of Living water. You don't draw water from the springs of marriage, climbing the corporate ladder, engagement, crushing your sales goals, or motherhood. No, the Lord makes it clear. He is Living water. Church history also makes it clear, "Let living water satisfy, the thirsty without price. We’ll take a cup of kindness yet, all glory be to Christ."
Personal salvation from the Lord. Holy delight in the Lord. Infinite enjoyment of Living water even in the confines of a body contained in the moment by space and time. What does that lead to? Purpose. The purpose for which you were created, to know God and then go and make Him known. Despite the box you check, this is your real purpose. God created you with a God-sized hole in your heart, not to be filled with being called 'mama' or 'mam' or drinking hot coffee out of a "wifey" or "girl boss" mug, but to be filled by His presence, His goodness, His faithfulness.
Declare His name as exalted. Glorify Him with your life by the power of His spirit no matter what boxes you're marking on those papers. Make His works known among the peoples. Turn from the counter in the office and the papers glaring at you and make disciples. Give thanks for breath, life, knowledge of Him, ability to hold Scripture in your hands and in your heart, and the list rolls on endlessly.
Sing to the Lord, for he has done glorious things. Let this be known throughout the earth. Isaiah 12:5
"Have you transitioned from being frustrated with a reluctant God who isn't cooperating with your agenda to being comforted by a God who is lavishing you with grace upon grace?" Ray Ortlund.
Do you describe what the Lord is doing in your life, the lives of the people around you, the lives of those amongst the nations spreading His Good News by His spirit, do you describe those as glorious? Or is your box checking your supreme agenda, so instead you're self consumed and largely engrossed in your to-do list, frustrated by a God who won't follow through on promises He never made.
Sing to the Lord. Direct your heart to Him. He has done glorious things. He made a way for enemies to become friends. Go make it known to those who do not know. Turn from the paperwork. Be consumed with making it known throughout the earth. Living water will satisfy the thirty without price.
Cry out and sing, citizen of Zion, for the Holy One of Israel is among you in his greatness. Isaiah 12:6
Citizen of Zion. Your real identity. Why is this identity to be of full concern, rather than the identities of the seemingly immovable paper boxes? Because the Holy One of Israel is among you. In His greatness, He calls you friend. In His greatness, He has given you a mission. In His greatness, He comforts with a comfort that won't be found in a title in space and time.
Cry out and sing, daughter of Zion. There is joy unspeakable. There is a title that cannot be stripped from you. There is a God who delights to know you. There is a God who presents to you a seat at the table. But enough about you. Focus your eyes on His greatness. Focus your eyes on the glorious things He has done. Focus your eyes on His faithfulness to you. Focus your heart on the promises He did make to you that He will keep.
The 'x' for those paper boxes at the doctor's office were not promised. But by faith in Christ, your identity as a child of God, that's the box you check. Actually, it's the box that was checked for you when Jesus rose from the grave in complete victory over sin and death. Joyfully draw from the springs of Living water. All glory be to Christ.
There's a surreal feeling that unravels me as these words spin off my fingertips. Words of vulnerability and from processing life in an abstract way. Isaiah 12 has been refreshing to my bones. I overlooked verse three when studying this verse in 2017 and again in 2020. Soaking in the reality of not having my dreams promised and the fear of rejection points me to the rejection that was experienced by Jesus on my behalf. He is the only one that can satisfy. He satisfies the thirsty without price and that today is my hope. Today, by the grace of God and His power at work in my life, the boxes to be checked for me are daughter, servant, friend. The rest? I pray to live out the reality of verses four through six, joyfully.