Text: Isaiah 26:1-21, Isaiah 27:1-13, Psalm 74:12-17, Philippians 4:4-7
I am writing this on Inauguration Day, the culmination of one of the most polarizing election years our country has ever seen. Even before my feet touched the floor this morning, I remembered the tension of our divided country and felt the fragility of my own heart. My mind was caught up in contemplating our limited human condition. I felt my earthiness and all the limitations of being human. Another way of saying this is that I felt temporal, the opposite of everlasting.
I write today of Isaiah chapter 26, which begins, “We have a strong city, he sets up salvation as walls and bulwarks” (v.1). Yet our country feels weak today, utterly broken. Weak not because of who our president is or was or will someday be, but because the transfer of power from one mere human being to another betrays our weakness in its very act of impermanence.
We cannot do any work eternally; we can only do eternal work. That is, our abilities are temporary and limited, but our work can be done for the “strong city” Isaiah speaks of—the city that is eternal. Today is constantly passing away, and our contributions here are, too. But Isaiah’s words cause me to remember what is true of our eternal God:
You will keep the mind that is dependent on you
in perfect peace,
for it is trusting in you.
- Isaiah 26:3
It is easy to look at the terra, the earth, and think our trust is born of blood, sweat, tears, dirt—the rise and fall of ideas and businesses and churches and politics. Each of us inhabits a kingdom, whether it be our home, our job, our family, or our community, and we are tempted to believe in its permanence. But we must be careful to remember that the King of our hearts is not our pastor, our president, our husband, our friend, or even ourselves.
The King of our hearts is made not from dust; He is not coming to ashes at the end. The King of our hearts is forever and ever and ever, without end.
Isaiah continues, “Trust in the Lord forever for the Lord God is an everlasting rock” (Isaiah 26:4). God, who made everything and will make it over again, will lose not a bit of Himself in the process.
The day is Yours, also the night;
You established the moon and the sun.
You set all the boundaries of the earth;
You made summer and winter.
- Psalm 74:16-17
There are moments of pure elation and joy when we forget what earthlings we are, made from dust to dust, ashes to ashes—we feel invincible. And then, in another moment, this world is just too much with us and we with it. The Lenten season reminds us of our fragility, our humanity, our humility, our humus, the Latin word for “earth.” From dust we have come and to dust we will return.
But Jesus is an everlasting rock. The King of our hearts, of this world and of the world to come, is our never-ending, all-knowing, all-seeing, and eternal God. The Kingdom belongs to Him alone, as does the power and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.
Lore Ferguson Wilbert is a writer, thinker, and learner. She blogs at Sayable, tweets @lorewilbert, and posts photos @loreferguson. She has a husband named Nate, a puppy named Harper Nelle, and too many books to read in one lifetime.