Sunday, March 3, 2013

Scratching the Surface of Isaiah


Kopp Disclosure
(John 3:19-21)

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Scratching the Surface of Isaiah

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    Only now am I older than most of the elders on the board that I moderate as undershepherd.

    I haven't decided if that's a relief or reality.

    But I know being a rookie pastor is like being a buck on the first day of hunting season.

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    While everybody makes mistakes and everybody really learns how to do the job only after being on it no matter how long they read books and take tests that allow 'em to start, I'm old enough to know churches can be very, very, very unkind to cruel to rookies.

    I'm not sure I know why that is - some suggest it's because lots of people are mad at God for something and transfer it to their pastors or because pastors are paid to be abused or something else equally dim to diabolical - but it is and God knows America knows all about people who try to define what is is.

    So I'll let God handle that; which He does sooner or later and usually sooner than later and definitely in the end when some dimwitted to diabolical religious poser picks on someone drafted by Him into service.

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    I'd rather talk about folks like Alma and Fred Roll who were elders in the church that called me to be their pastor while I was still green and only 27.

    They're both in heaven now; but they kept my life as well as ministry from turning into hell back then by protecting me from the wolves while trying to align my heart which was O.K. with my head that could be very short-circuited to stiff-necked at times.

    Isn't it strange how young folks think they know it all but older folks know they don't even if they pretend sometimes?

    Fred was a commercial artist who illustrated my doctoral dissertation and sang the Lord's Prayer with persuasive passion over professional precision which is always a better formula for convincing people about the content.

    Alma was my "mom away from home" and proved there are women who are called to be elders; and back in those days, that meant she was head and, uh, heels above most.

    But her most stirring, challenging, convicting, and even bewildering assessment of my call was this: "You're a little Isaiah.  They break your heart because you know they're breaking His.  You keep urging and warning and even begging; and you don't know why people flirt with the consequences of denying the truth.'

    I've always shied away from any comparison to any of the good guys in the Bible; except for Paul: "I am the chief among sinners...I don't do the good that I want to do...I do the bad that I don't want to do...I am always reminded of my need for Jesus as my Savior and Lord."

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    Buuuuuuut with those rookie years long behind me, I'm learning to step up to the plate for Jesus no matter who's pitching; for it's finally hit me, as He said, paraphrasing a bit here, "Whoever saves his life by trying to get along with everyone at the expense of getting along with God is gonna lose it in the end; and whoever loses his life by getting along with God at the expense of getting along with people who don't especially pay attention to Him is gonna gain it in the end.  Why sacrifice God's eternal banquet for a few crumbs that go in one end and out the other?"

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    Getting back to Isaiah, there's not too much about him in the book; which is God's way of saying it's more about Him than him.

    What we do know is kinda cool.  He lived in Jerusalem, was married, and had at least two sons; who he named with strange names in a prophetic kinda way: Shear-jashub which means "a remnant shall return" because there's always a remnant of faithful upon which the Church can rebuild and Maher-shalal-hash-baz which means "speed the spoil" because God planned a "speedy doom for Judah's enemies."

    He had three big messages: (1) God will allow the bad guys (in this case, Babylon) to destroy the good guys (in this case, Judah) for not loving God by loving like God and take away their homeland; (2) God will allow them to return because He always does that; and (3) the future with Him will be greater as long as fidelity goes both ways.

    He was stern in warning and saving in general; for God had revealed the Messianic plan to him in the clearest and most compelling way ever as a quick reading of Isaiah 7, 9, 11, and 40 confirm.

    God breathed through Isaiah with a saving sigh; knowing it would take more than Isaiah to convince people that life without God isn't homeward bound.

    That's why there were/remain so many prophets; or faithful folks telling people that it's truth or consequences sooner or later, usually sooner than later, and definitely in the end.

    Of course, God knew even the Messiah Himself would be disrespected; as the agonizing to read chapter 53 so graphically predicted what Jesus incarnated.

    So while I still have a hard time with Alma's assertion about the Isaiah in me, she understood any prophet's dilemma as defined by Frederick Buechner: "A prophet's quarrel with the world is deep-down a lover's quarrel.  If they didn't love the world, they probably wouldn't bother to tell it that it's going to hell.  They'd just let it go."

    Despite the foul balls, balks, and errors, even rookies can relate to that.

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    ...to be continued...

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Blessings and Love!

2 comments:

Dennis Evans said...

I was deeply loved by half the people in my first church, and nearly destroyed by the others (or at least the ring leaders who had half the church cowed). And it was years before another church would touch me except as an interim or stated supply temp. I have been in my little pair of churches (Presbyterian and Methodist) for about 20 years. I am blessed where I am, but the past has taught me to never take anything for granted in this world. It is one of my great quests in life to just be thankful, and often I am. Thank you for sharing your story.

Dr. Robert R. Kopp said...

Dennis,

I praise the Lord that you have survived, my brother; and we have a responsibility to intercede for others anointed for such service! To borrow a line, "As we do it for..."
Watch for the next KD!
I praise the Lord for your continuing witness!