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  • Eric Marshburn

February 2023 - Eric's Ethereal Cereal

“Look, I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?” (Isaiah 43:19).

I read these ancient words, again, and I must admit that sometimes I feel like crying out: “So, God… when are you going to do this new thing? When is it coming? What if I honestly cannot see any sign of what you are doing, Lord?” Sometimes it seems like the signs in our world aren’t pointing to God at all. Or, could it be that sometimes I’m not looking in the right direction? Could it be that in order for us to see this “new thing” God promises, we have to stop our do-ing and embrace be-ing?

Singer/songwriter Sandra McCracken reminds us that sometimes God’s work in this world can seem invisible. That also applies to our shared-experiences of God in the church. McCracken says she was reminded of this several years ago while visiting with friends at their farm in Vermont. While rocking and talking with her friends, they marveled at some of the visitors who joined them on the front porch that day: in particular the hummingbirds buzzing at a nearby feeder. McCracken writes:

“Hummingbird wings move at about 50 beats per second. But, when they (hover) hummingbirds can appear completely motionless. A miracle of fitness and form, God made these creatures to be a delicate display of paradox: they are still and active at the same time. These birds are a moving metaphor for the kind of trust that God outlines in Isaiah 30:15‘you will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence.’(CSB) When I think of God’s grace in play in my own life, my most successful moments happen when I hold steady at the center. Confidence is not found in productivity, but in quietness of heart. Our plans are not like His plans. As the hummingbird moves, their wings are invisible to us. So too the work of God is often hard to see in the moment, but nevertheless something remarkable is happening. This is what the Lord says, ‘Look I am about to do something new; even now it is coming. Do you not see it?’” (Isaiah 43:19)

Eugene Peterson teaches us that, “The impressive art of Isaiah involves taking the stuff of our ordinary and often disappointing human experience and showing us how it is the very stuff that God uses to create and save and give hope. As it turns out nothing is unusable by God. (God) uses everything and everybody as material for his work, which is the remaking of the mess we have made of our lives.”

“You will be delivered by returning and resting; your strength will lie in quiet confidence,” says the prophet.

When the situations we face seem too much to bear, and the way before us seems long, and everything feels as if it is crumbling beneath our feet, the prophet’s words remind us that God calls us to: (1) return (to God ); and (2) rest. It’s a stark reminder that our salvation is a gift – NOT an achievement. It’s not something we DO. As Bishop Will Willimon reminds us, “Salvation is allowing Jesus to intrude among us, as he is, rather than as we would have him to be.”

In these present days of change and transition, my hope for each of us is that we will learn to embrace the gift of resting in God; that we will cease trying to be delivered from our current messes by our own plans and our own doing, but begin (through our being) waiting in quiet confidence upon The ONE who is our salvation. Isaiah reminds us that we cannot fashion salvation for ourselves, or plan and think our way to NEW LIFE. This comes to those who choose to rest (wait) in quiet confidence upon God— who is our salvation.

Grace & Peace!

Pastor Eric

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