For most of my life, I’ve been afraid.
It’s taken me decades to admit this to myself, and months of arguing with God to admit it to you. But I confess that, for the past two years, He has been lovingly, painfully, mercifully dragging my faithlessness out of forgotten corners and into the light.
My oldest son’s graduation tossed me abruptly into a sea of crippling doubt. I’ve relived all my mothering choices — places I once stood in confidence — afraid I’d made the wrong decisions. I’m still not convinced I didn’t.
I’m an Olympic-level introvert; as a pastor’s wife, Sunday mornings have always been unsteady ground for me. But lately, most weeks are a heavy spiritual struggle — praying down my anxieties and pleading for the Spirit to help me press in to the people and community I love.
I have a daughter — she’s brave and joyful and lovely. I lie awake, begging God to keep me from laying down the worst of me over the best of her.
Our church is growing in scope and depth, an answer to prayer. But I hear God calling me to boldness and influence to speak of His glory in the process. I fight hard to hide quietly in my familiar and comfortable work.
I took my fears away for two days alone back in January, and we opened the Bible to the place we always end up: the book of Isaiah.
God met us there again.
Fear not, nor be afraid; have I not told you from of old and declared it? And you are my witnesses! Is there a God besides me? There is no Rock; I know not any (Isaiah 44:8).
(The idol-worshipper) feeds on ashes; a deluded heart has led him astray, and he cannot deliver himself or say, “Is there not a lie in my right hand?” (Isaiah 44:20).
Oh, the tiny rocks and ashes I lug around! The lies I hold in my right hand — fictions of discipline, perfection, productivity, safety.
They cannot deliver me. I cannot deliver myself.
I will never find courage in a life I’m afraid to lose.
I wrote all the way through Colossians because I need God’s Word to keep going, and because the book’s first chapter is my favorite part of the New Testament. When I don’t believe — when I forget the gospel — when I’m tired and I want to stop trying, I rest in its grand hymn of Christ’s magnificent work and its testimony of Paul’s endurance as a servant of the Church (Colossians 1:15-29).
But Isaiah — this is where I go when I’m scared.
I cannot count the times I have wept into its pages. Isaiah is teaching me how to be brave — that courage is not being more sure of yourself but more sure of your God.
I wish I could meet Isaiah and thank him.
We don’t know much about him. He was married, he was a dad, and he lived around 700-750 years before Christ was born (Isaiah 7:3; 8:3, 18). He was the son of Amoz (1:1), and tradition holds this lineage makes him a part of the royal family of Judah. Some scholars think he wrote only part of this book, with one or two others joining him later, but there is more than enough evidence to believe that it was just him, writing alone, a prophet faithful to record his vision from the Lord and call us to “hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth, for the LORD has spoken (1:2).”
Isaiah means Yahweh — the LORD — is salvation, and from this core essence of his name to all 66 chapters of the book that bears it, that is his sole and relentless message. God alone can save, God alone will save, and God Himself is the reason He saves (Isaiah 48:11).
There is no other point, and there is no other Rock.
The book is essentially divided into two big parts. In the first, God reveals our sin (chapters 1-39), and in the second, God deals with our sin (chapters 40-66). Writing through Isaiah verse by verse would take more lifetime than I have left, so we’ll be taking it in larger chunks, flying high for a bigger picture, but zooming in to dig through key verses and passages.
In the process, we’ll walk through the big questions this book answers:
- why it’s so hard to stop sinning
- what to do when the political system fails you
- how your daily planning (or lack of it) reveals your heart
- how to truly find comfort in God
- the real reason why bad things happen
- what God likes to hear you say most
and a whole lot more. It’s a practical, powerful book.
I have been fearful, but God has been faithful, using His ancient Word through Isaiah to speak to me more often lately than anything else. I’m hungry to hear more of what He is saying, and I’m glad you’re joining me to listen, too.
Pray for me, and I’ll pray for you. Together, let’s learn how to be brave.