By Tamra Dalbey
“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? 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 them, and not to turn away from your own flesh and blood?
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. Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I.” (Isaiah 58:6-9)
God is urging Israel to leave behind the kind of fasting they had grown accustomed to and pick up a fast that actually moves His heart. In the verses just before these, God states that their religiously performed fasts were not acceptable. He wants more than an outward show, He wants an inward change that overflows into obedience.
This type of fast has nothing to do with food… it has everything to do with a lifestyle that chronically chooses righteousness. These verses really showcase what’s important to God: people; souls. He wants to see them freed and taken care of.
Check out what happens when we fast His way:
“And your ancient ruins shall be rebuilt; you shall raise up the foundations of many generations; you shall be called the repairer of the breach, the restorer of streets to dwell in.” (Isaiah 58:12)
He wants to move through us in the same way. That you and I might be called “the repairer of the breach,” and “the restorer of the streets”.
He has called us into a beautiful partnership: to be co-laborers of the gospel with Him. It’s hard to believe that God would yoke Himself to humanity, and enlist our help for the harvest—but He does. He doesn’t need us for any of it, but He does want us to be involved in the process.
The great commission is truly a co-mission: Him with us; Him in us.
We aren’t going to move the needle in our community if the needle hasn’t first been moved privately, in us. We are incapable of loving people in a way that would bring an Isaiah 58:12 level of impact. It’s Christ in us that people need.
The more we seek Him, the more we’ll find Him… the more we’ll find this thing beating right along with our heartbeat: The lost need salvation. The sheep need a shepherd.
But what we don’t want is for this God-given mission to be buried by fears and intimidations. The doubts often go something like this: “Oh, that’s too big for me… maybe for someone else. I’d ruin that.”
But still He calls.
God has given each of His children a calling and a measure of gifting. I don’t know specifically what it is for you, but I know it’s there. For some of us, it’s more buried and forgotten than others… but it’s still there. Fears and distractions all too often drown out His constant call. Unaware of our lack of faith, we turn down His volume. But, just like any good dad, He patiently refuses to be turned off. Deep cries out to deep… in you . If you can’t hear it anymore, wait on the Lord. He will make Himself known.
He wants to do the unthinkable and unimaginable through us, in our neighborhoods. Same weak people, same strong God— the equation doesn’t change, no matter how much doubt or fear we throw at it. He moves mightily, He works through even our small faith.
Look at what He’s done with a mustard seed of faith…
The woman could only dream of being well, so she reached for the hem of His garment as He walked by.
Peter couldn’t even dream up walking on water, but he took that fateful step out of the boat.
Moses, the man who couldn’t speak well, would have never thought that a sea would split before him.
If He’s called you to something, then nothing can stand in your way. Let us be those who reach out, scared—but Spirit empowered. With great trust. Terrifyingly aware of our limitations and inabilities, yet choosing to believe that He’ll come through and move on our behalf.
There is a certain confidence that exists for the children of God. He wants us to possess the assurance that He goes with us. Not wishing or hoping He’ll come with us, but knowing and believing He will.
This is not confidence in ourselves, it’s belief that He will keep His word, His promises.
As we go into the community around us, let us bring this confidence with us. That even though we are sheep, we wouldn’t act “sheepish”. That boldness would come as we witness Him time and time again faithfully coming through. In situations we thought we were ill prepared for… watch Him manifest in a “that was not me, that was all Him” supernatural kind of way.
Can’t you feel Him shaking us out of our comfort zone? I love it. It takes such a caring Vinedresser to prune the vine so it can grow its best.
It’s called sanctification. And it was never meant to be comfortable.
I ask, Father, that we would carry the same urgency that You have for people. Give us Your very heart that sacrifices for the lost and also encourages the believer. That as we prioritize and adopt Your desire for salvation and discipleship as our own, it would be to You a sweet, fragrant fast from empty religion. I pray we wouldn’t waste any more time or opportunities. Give us wisdom and discernment to know how to reach each individual You send us in an impactful way.
I really believe ours is a time of great awakening and revival. He’s asking us to move out from the riverbank into the water, to be a people saturated with His life-giving Spirit. Not just for our sakes… but for theirs.
Jesus, we give You permission to lead us. Awaken us for the dawn that is coming and is here. Break forth Light within us!