“…the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness…” Isaiah 61:3
What a drudgery life can be when our wardrobe is nothing other than cloaks woven with the threads of a heavy spirit. Sunshine and blue skies seem hollow. The loud laughter of fretless children is irritating to our preoccupied minds. Under the spirit of heaviness, a banquet fit for a king is only to be pushed around on our plates by hands too weighted to lift our forks. Each of us has donned that gray, moldly spirit of heaviness before, and Isaiah is promising above that God intends to wrap us in a tailored garment of praise. This garment is made for you by His own hands, and it is to His own glory that it must be worn. Forgive me, but I am encouraging you to disrobe – to take off the garments of weightiness and slip on the garment of praise. It’s in your size and has already been paid for in full.
I love the 61st chapter of Isaiah. Truth be known, I preached it only once for the first decade of my calling, twice in the second ten years, and three times in three different places in the last two years. This chapter gives mouth-to-mouth resuscitation to my soul, breathing hope into my spiritual lungs whenever I find myself wearied. I’m relieved that in these words there is no heavy, intricate doctrine to wade through. These days, I need the simplicity in Christ more than anything else in my own journey with Him. There is today an ease in my approach to such simple verses, hoping only to encourage myself (and the people of God when I preach it), as we could all stand opportunity to take off the old and place the new upon ourselves. Isaiah 61 speaks precisely of God’s ability to work a mighty exchange on behalf of those who look to Him alone for hope. The prophet mentions the following in Isaiah 61:1-3:
Good news is offered to people who have been made low
Healing is extended for the brokenhearted
A message of freedom is decreed for those taken captive by the enemy
The release of those who have been shackled in prison is promised
Comfort for all who mourn is tenderly offered
A removal of humiliating ashes and an endowment of gladdening oil is prescribed
The aforementioned garment of praise is wrapped around those who have been living with heavy spirits
A planting of stability is given to those who have been uprooted
An invitation is given for us to join in a priceless part of bringing glory to God
Amazingly, I believe that all of these precious elements are ours in Christ today. May the merciful God of Heaven empower our feelings to align with our beliefs. This is a needful exchange in all of God’s children, that we might draw our senses from the well of our beliefs, instead of drawing our final conclusions from the well of our unreliable emotions. May the Holy Spirit bring to life the listless portions of our hearts which have too often bent under that smothering spirit of heaviness. May we stand upright today with arms spread toward Heaven’s throne and declare that we have confidence in the God of The Exchange; let us trust deeply that what He proclaimed to a rebellious Israel nearly 2,700 years ago, He will also apply to those of us in Christ right here and right now. Curse our fickle hearts for shifting when He has provided for them to stand! Great God of Heaven, cause in us a willingness to trust with tenacity, to wait with assurance, to march with joyful dependence.
Work your exchange of garments in me!
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