Light in the Darkness

Isaiah 58

1Shout it aloud, do not hold back.
Raise your voice like a trumpet.
Declare to my people their rebellion
and to the house of Jacob their sins.

2 For day after day they seek me out;
they seem eager to know my ways,
as if they were a nation that does what is right
and has not forsaken the commands of its God.
They ask me for just decisions
and seem eager for God to come near them.

3 ‘Why have we fasted,’ they say,
‘and you have not seen it?
Why have we humbled ourselves,
and you have not noticed?’
“Yet on the day of your fasting, you do as you please
and exploit all your workers.

4 Your fasting ends in quarreling and strife,
and in striking each other with wicked fists.
You cannot fast as you do today
and expect your voice to be heard on high.

5 Is this the kind of fast I have chosen,
only a day for a man to humble himself?
Is it only for bowing one’s head like a reed
and for lying on sackcloth and ashes?
Is that what you call a fast,
a day acceptable to the LORD ?

6 “Is not this the kind of fasting I have chosen:
to loose the chains of injustice
and untie the cords of the yoke,
to set the oppressed free
and break every yoke?

7 Is it not to share your food with the hungry
and to provide the poor wanderer with shelter
when you see the naked, to clothe him,
and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?

8 Then your light will break forth like the dawn,
and your healing will quickly appear;
then your righteousness will go before you,
and the glory of the LORD will be your rear guard.

9 Then you will call, and the LORD will answer;
you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.
“If you do away with the yoke of oppression,
with the pointing finger and malicious talk,

10 and if you spend yourselves in behalf of the hungry
and satisfy the needs of the oppressed,
then your light will rise in the darkness,
and your night will become like the noonday.

11 The LORD will guide you always;
he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
and will strengthen your frame
You will be like a well-watered garden,
like a spring whose waters never fail.

12 Your people will rebuild the ancient ruins
and will raise up the age-old foundations;
you will be called Repairer of Broken Walls,
Restorer of Streets with Dwellings.

13 “If you keep your feet from breaking the Sabbath
and from doing as you please on my holy day,
if you call the Sabbath a delight
and the LORD’s holy day honorable,
and if you honor it by not going your own way
and not doing as you please or speaking idle words,

14 then you will find your joy in the LORD,
and I will cause you to ride on the heights of the land

and to feast on the inheritance of your father Jacob.”
The mouth of the LORD has spoken.

I was doing my bsf lesson (on Matthew, Chapter 12) and a question referenced Isaiah 58.  So, I flipped back in my Bible to Isaiah and there were these words.

They are old, familiar friends. I wasn’t even thinking about it as I turned the pages to find them, but these are words that have deeply impacted me. and reading them yesterday brought back many emotions to my heart, as well as new encouragements because they apply so deeply to what my parents are currently doing in Kenya.

Our move back to Arkansas several years ago rocked me in a way I can’t really explain, but after about three months of being here, we were heading into the Christmas season and I was in one of the darkest places I can ever remember being, either before or since. That Christmas is a complete blur, but I vividly remember hearing about a suicide happening on Christmas eve and feeling jealous of that man, because he didn’t have to get up on Christmas morning and I did.  I was in a bad place.

A few days after Christmas, I was in our house, one into which we had not yet moved.  I was painting and trying to get it ready. It was late at night and for some reason, I was listening to a sermon on a cd that Taido had burned for me. I can’t even remember the miracle of how it got into the cd player or how I managed to decide to listen to it but the words were the first truth that had broken through to me in weeks.

When I am in the darkness, I have usually let my mind feed on all kinds of lies for weeks and weeks and the truth is no longer accessible in my heart. Lies about who I am and my worth and about the people in my life who actually love me. So it doesn’t matter what anyone says to me because I can’t hear it. It’s strange how this has occurred a number of times in my life, and I can see that pattern in my rear view mirror. But for the life of me it is hard to see it coming.

Anyway, for some reason this sermon just shattered my lies.  All of sudden it was like a wall came down, and I fell down on the floor crying and crying, for who knows how long. When I finally got up, I knew that the clouds had parted. The world was not going to end this Christmas season.

I began a very slow uphill battle back to being normal (whatever that is) with these sweet verses as my arsenal. I had been given back a little fighting power against all the lies. the verse that stayed with me was also the title of the sermon,

Your light will break forth like the dawn. 

I come back to those words a lot. Because I want to be in the light, not the darkness. and I don’t want to hold all of the light to myself, but I want it to somehow shine out of me. I want it to pour forth like the sun. but it doesn’t always seem possible.

Over the next few months I probably listened to that sermon 20 times and I started memorizing Isaiah 58. I wanted to have it memorized by my 30th birthday the following September, when I would gather with many women I love dearly and we would walk through Isaiah together over a long weekend. That weekend is an event I hold so tightly in my heart that I still haven’t been able to really write about it, but I know that I would never have had that weekend if these verses had not broken through to me one cold winter night.

So how precious to see them again this week.

And to know they are still true. This winter. This dreary day. Light will come.

And as I read them, I prayed them for my parents and many others in Kenya whose frames must need to be strengthened after days of grueling medical clinics in the hot Kenyan sun. I feel confident that they are being like springs. Waters that never fail.

And that I too can be a part of that same well-watered garden.

I want these verse to be true of me. Even when they are not true, when I am sapped, dry and broken, I still have within me, however faint, the desire that they would be true. I continue to ask that they would be more true of me tomorrow than they are today.


  1. what a powerfully personal moment you have shared- yet it inspires me to also live by isaiah 58 when i am blue- to break free and walk with HIM.

  2. i have always loved verse 11: The LORD will guide you always;
    he will satisfy your needs in a sun-scorched land
    and will strengthen your frame.
    You will be like a well-watered garden,
    like a spring whose waters never fail.

    sometimes the world we live in feels so dry and sunscorched. God is the only one who can truly refresh.

  3. does taido realize how blessed he is to have you? i hope so.

  4. How amazing you are my friend. As you began writing, I thought that it was that passage we studied at Castle Bluff for your b-day. I was fighting my own demons at that time in my life. God also used the passage and the weekend to begin a renewing of my spirit and my life. I was so thankful you had followed the Lords leading to have all those wonderful ladies gather together. Not to mention the incredible food (Go Anna!)

  5. […] i put it on everything from my 30th birthday contemplative retreat, an event i have mentioned before on this blog.  i was studying isaiah when i moved to arkansas and this verse served as the […]

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