Do you have a favorite Bible? What makes it special to you? I know it’s “in” today to use phone Bible apps, but I am “old school” and love the feel of a Bible in my hands. In the back of my favorite Bible, I have documented Bible verses with significant dates. This is one of my highlighted inscriptions:
“Isaiah 58:11 – Promise from God 1996
Fulfilled 2011. Thank you, Lord!”
“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.”
These words became my heartrending prayer for many, many years.
In this chapter, Isaiah confronts the Israelites about their attitudes during fasts. He exhorts them to not only abide by the external rules of fasting but in humility to help others less fortunate. God wanted heart transformation to result from their fasts.
Verse 11 jumped off the page when I read it in 1996. I was living in a “sun-scorched land.” My life being a well-watered garden seemed like a mirage. In my desperation I was seeking God; I had nowhere else to turn. I remember asking God to guide me, to satisfy my needs, to strengthen me. I had no idea how God would fulfill these promises, but they became my sustenance.
My husband had just moved into a skilled nursing facility leaving me to parent our two young children. Needless to say, I was physically exhausted most of the time. Praying through the Bible kept me anchored during those tumultuous years. Through the years I constantly returned to this chapter wondering when that well-watered garden would become reality.
We all know that time is in God’s hands. Isn’t it true that we blink and say, “Where did time go?” I dutifully cared for the kids, and Jim until his death in 2007. When I read Isaiah 58 again in 2011, I realized that God had been true to His word. He had heard and answered my prayers! “Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and He will say: here I am” (verse 9).
As I had “poured myself out” for Jim and my children, God was changing me. I didn’t recognize the transformation as it was happening. In 2011 God showed me how my healing had come by fasting my time, my needs, my desires. In the process, He drew me near to Himself in prayer as my dependence on Him increased. God had been my Guide and He had met all of my needs. What a praise session I had when I realized my life now resembled a well-watered garden! Those sun-scorched days were behind me, but I had a deep assurance that if a similar season were to come again, “the glory of the Lord would be my rear guard” (verse 8b).