When it's said that the Word of God is alive and breathing, it's true. I've always believed it, but this week, I witnessed it first-hand...the words in scripture playing out in a physical way in my life. This is the story of how God whispered to my heart, using Isaiah 30...
When we moved to Georgia almost 7 years ago I was excited to give our new house a fresh and updated look, different from the home in Texas we lived in for over 10 years. A desire to design rose up inside of me, stemming from 12 years as an interior decorator and fashion consultant. It was something that largely drove my world. At the time, I owned my own business, Bellarue, decorating homes and corporations and acting as a personal stylist. Home parties, Dallas markets, antique shops, fashion shows, handmade scarves and custom-made price tags - I was in my element. And let’s just say there was an innate desire in me to decorate any space I was in. This move was no exception and in fact, it was the epitome of a decorator's dream...a brand new blank palate. Except one thing, well, maybe two...one, moves aren’t cheap and two, we weren’t exactly the clients who had a budget in-place to design the entirety of a new home. I quickly realized that there wasn't any extra money to support my design desires - a really sad and big problem in my book at the time.
In an effort to "do the best we could with what we had" (make note, that is not a quote that came from my mouth) we took all the lovely things we brought with us and rearranged them in different layouts. Just so there’s not a pity party - well, really because Garth is my editor and he would probably like me to admit this - we were certainly not lacking the “stuff” to decorate with. Our poundage in moving was an embarrassing amount (known to us because it was a government move and they only allow a set amount of pounds to be covered.) There's a chance we exceeded it. Okay, I exceeded it. So let's just say we had stuff to work with. It just wasn’t up to date and new, you know? The good news, however, was that working with what we had to create a new "space" wasn’t something new to me. In the middle of those decorating years, I worked with a designer in her business, where that’s exactly what we did - taking what people currently owned, rearranging it and redesigning it - giving a complete makeover to a room using their existing pieces, adding only a few new items to give it that designer “pop.” I had to believe I could enjoy doing this to my own house, right?
Putting my previous knowledge to work, Garth and I got creative with our “stuff” and when everything was in place, I really did like it. It just lacked that "pop." So I went on a search for some small accents that would fix the lack of impact. For some reason, in that season in life, mercury glass was what really grabbed my attention - I guess it still kind of does. There's just something about the shimmer of silver in unexpected places and I found myself purchasing a couple lamps and a candle holder with a lid - all in mercury glass. As silly as it seems, of all the things I got, I really loved the candle holder. I put it on the sofa table, in a place where it could be seen from the kitchen as well as the family room. And it didn’t move for seven years. Have I ever mentioned I don’t love change? I’m working on that.
Fast forward to this week...I was reading a book in the family room, deep in the words of the pages, when all of a sudden my dog Oliver, a small dog who may or may not think he’s a cat, got up from his perch on top of the sofa. As he was walking the length of the couch, which he’s been doing skillfully for seven years without a hitch, he suddenly slipped, lost his footing, and managed to sideswipe my mercury glass candle holder. I've been known to be a bit dramatic a time or two, but the sound was truly epic. Enough so that it brought kids running from all rooms to find out what exploded and made me wonder if something did, in fact, explode! Living in an area surrounded by quarries, the sound landed on what I'd call the "quarry scale"...a scale where blowing up rocks travels through the ground and rattles our house each day. Okay, that might be a bit dramatic. But you get the idea.
It still baffles me, how it broke. It landed fully on carpet, safely away from the hardwood floor. There are two scenarios I came up with. Either our carpet is so thin it ultimately ended up hitting the hard ground beneath, or it broke by hitting itself - lid on base. Either way - there were silver slivers of glass everywhere. It's always amazed me how far broken glass can fly and this didn’t disappoint. I’m also amazed at how truly shattered this particular glass was. Sometimes when things break, hot glue fixes the problem, a skill I've acquired from earlier years of raising toddlers. This, however - not a chance. Shards in a pile, it was completely done for. I grabbed a broom and began to sweep up the mess, sad that I had lost my favorite glass bowl. Not an heirloom, but just a really pretty something I liked a whole lot.
I need to take you into Isaiah 30 with me to get the full picture of where the Lord took me that night as I cleaned up the pieces on the floor in front of me. It starts in verse nine with rebellious people unwilling to hear instruction from the Lord, asking for only smooth words - the things they wanted to see and hear. Because if we're being honest, who doesn't like the feeling of smooth words over words that hit deep? Further into the chapter, the Lord responds to those rebellious people saying “because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse; whose breaking comes suddenly in an instant; and it’s breaking is like that of a potter's vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found." Pause. So, because the people were rebellious and didn't want to hear from the Lord what needed to happen, a breaking was going to suddenly come...smashed so that not a shard is found? That's certainly tough to hear. But suddenly I saw it in the pieces of glass in a pile in front of me...the "thing" that represented an idol in this whisper from the Lord. It was in that candleholder that fell to the ground, that I realized the Lord was showing me a picture of what was actually playing out in my life...
I had been so enamored by the beauty of the outside of the mercury glass, that I honestly had forgotten it held a candle. That is, until I got to the bottom of the pile of glass and saw the white candle, now uncovered and somehow totally untouched. As I looked at the candle, something hit my spirit and I was taken back in my memory to six years ago, while in Seattle for reviveSEATTLE, when a pastor's wife came up to me and called me a Roman Candle. I didn't fully understand at the time what she meant, but I do know two things that have happened since she spoke those words to me - one, I've held onto what she said because I knew God was and is still telling me something through it and two, the song, Go Light Your World by Chris Rice suddenly began playing that week, at the most unusual times in my day, and consistently still does.
Isaiah 30 goes on to say..."For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hears it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying, "This is the way, walk in it," when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, "Be gone!" And he will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous..."
There's so much in those verses that spoke to me as I looked at the "overlaid with silver" pieces lying on the floor of my living room. The Lord says there will be no more weeping. That He will be gracious to us at the sound of our cry and will answer us. That we will see Him and hear Him and He will guide our path. And when all of that happens - then we "defile our carved idols overlaid with silver and gold-plated metal images." We will actually be the ones to say to them "Be gone!"
I realize that my mercury glass candleholder itself wasn't necessarily an idol, but I do believe the Lord used it's shattering to bring focus to things I may have allowed in my life that look a whole lot more like idols than I'd prefer. Mercury, after all, is double walled glass, inlaid with silver, not so unlike the idols in scripture. I'm also aware, however, that the enemy can’t do anything without permission, so one would have to believe that if idols are set up in our lives, then perhaps we are, in fact, the ones who have allowed them. I think we tend to equate an "idol" to a gold statue of sorts when, in fact, an idol is anything that pulls our gaze away from the Lord. It’s when we’ve found ourselves spending more time or effort on the “thing” rather than on the Lord...more time in a building and not in the presence of the Lord. More time being enamored by the glitz and glamor of the world and not by our all-powerful God.
Garth and I have been entertained by something that's been happening in our house over the last few months that I believe the Lord has used to emphasize this message to me. I'd been trying to point out to my family how much time we all spend looking at our phones and have made attempts to limit the usage, myself included. I even made a cute little box with a label that said "Werner family phones." Most of my attempts failed and each night we'd find ourselves gazing once again at our tiny little screens. One night, Garth set his phone down on the arm of the sofa and it promptly slid to the floor. Not so unusual the first time, especially since it had a new screen on it. But when it happened time after time, continuing for weeks, it seemed a little more unusual, at least to me. The message came loud and clear to me one night when we were watching the movie Samson and Garth's phone fell to the floor at the exact moment a voice declared loudly from our tv "Thus says the Lord!" The timing was impeccable. I can't help but wonder if God was trying to make a point by sliding the phone to the ground. A little like my candle holder that fell to the floor. No matter the size, idols won't last and "there are two scenarios I came up with"...the ground beneath them is weak or they end up destroying themselves.
I don't know if it was the glass shattering, "idols falling", or being inspired to take on the dark evils of this world by having recently re-watched Wonder Woman, but my prayer lately has been, Lord, what do I need to stop the enemy? I was thinking along the lines of a superhero kind of answer, but it turns out the Lord had something else in mind when one morning He answered my prayer with a simple vision. And while there wasn't a whole lot to the image, it was one of the most beautiful and powerful pictures I’ve seen...a girl walking forward holding a single, lit, white taper candle shining brightly. The message that came with it was as simple as the picture - Go Light Your World.
Revelation 2:4-5 says "Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love. Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent."
I really don’t want my candlestick removed. I don't want the idols of this life that I've allowed to be put in place to cause me to lose sight of the love of Christ - my first love. I don’t believe we need fancy buildings, years of book knowledge, degrees or programs to eradicate evil. We need to shatter the idols we've put in place that have caused us to lose our focus. We need to abide in our first love and absorb every page of the Word of God. We need the power of the Holy Spirit, obedience, a broken heart for others and a fire that burns bright within us. The most powerful force against evil is when we walk into a dark room with our candle lit, the flame burning deep within, shining bright for the Lord.
It took breaking the candleholder to pieces for me to remember that there was even a candle inside that needed to be lit. The Lord reminding me what He asked of me so many years ago in Seattle and in writing my story...be a light to the one. Be a roman candle - go light your world.
The place where my candleholder used to be still sits empty. Years ago, I would have run out immediately to replace it, an urgency to compete the "look" I worked so hard to achieve in my house. Today, I appreciate the things the Lord removes from my life that are not the things He put in place.
And then, when the idols are gone - "He will give rain for the seed with which you sow the ground, and bread, the produce of the ground, which will be rich and plenteous..."
Shattered glass, fallen idols, candles lit and in place...
“The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” - John 1:5