Flaming Out

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It is written:

Isaiah 42:3-A bruised reed He will not break, And smoking flax He will not quench; He will bring forth justice for truth.

Recently, I made the decision to resign as the minister for the church I have worked with for nearly ten years. This decision had nothing to do with the members of that church: they are all fantastic brothers and sisters in Christ, great friends, and wonderful servants of the Lord. The decision is one I have wrestled with for the last couple of years, because I have realized for some time that I am quite exhausted. I told my wife that I feel like for the last twenty years, I have been on the “front lines.” The area of Eastern Kentucky we have labored in has been filled with challenging situations that often turned into blessings regarding Satanists, pagans, Wiccans, Druids, and substance abuse issues. We have worked with women and children who have been abused, stood in the gap for numerous individuals, and seen God work amazing and incredible works through everything.

And, I am exhausted.

I didn’t realize how spent I was until recently. Thankfully, my family got me help, and I was diagnosed with bipolar disorder (an issue involving especially racing thoughts and anxiety). Today, I have been thinking about this passage of Scripture from Isaiah, regarding the work of the Messiah in the world. A family member explained it to me in a new way by visualizing it.

When a candle is burning, it can get to a point where it has so much soot collected that the flame may be put out. At that point, a person can cut the wick at the point where it is weakest.

This passage is reminding us that God will not do that to us.

He will not allow the flame to be totally put out.

He will nurture us, and help u s, and work with us.

Barnes has this:

A bruised reed – The word ‘reed’ means the cane or calamus which grows up in marshy or wet places (Isa 36:6; see the note at Isa 43:24). The word, therefore, literally denotes that which is fragile, weak, easily waved by the wind, or broken down; and stands in contrast with a lofty and firm tree (compare Mat 11:7): ‘What went ye out into the wilderness to see? A reed shaken with the wind?’ The word here, therefore, may be applied to people who are conscious of feebleness and sin; that are moved and broken by calamity; that feel that they have no strength to bear up against the ills of life. The word ‘bruised’ (רצוּץ râtsûts) means that which is broken or crushed, but not entirely broken off. As used here, it may denote those who are in themselves naturally feeble, and who have been crushed or broken down by a sense of sin, by calamity, or by affliction. We speak familiarly of crushing or breaking down by trials; and the phrase here is intensive and emphatic, denoting those who are at best like a reed – feeble and fragile; and who, in addition to that, have been broken and oppressed by a sense of their sins, or by calamity. Shall he not break – Shall he not break off. He will not carry on the work of destruction, and entirely crush or break it. And the idea is, that he will not make those already broken down with a sense of sin and with calamity, more wretched. He will not deepen their afflictions, or augment their trials, or multiply their sorrows. The sense is, that he will have an affectionate regard for the broken-hearted, the humble, the penitent, and the afflicted. Luther has well expressed this: ‘He does not cast away, nor crush, nor condemn the wounded in conscience, those who are terrified in view of their sins; the weak in faith and practice, but watches over and cherishes them, makes them whole, and affectionately embraces them.’ The expression is parallel to that which occurs in Isa 61:1, where it is said of the Messiah, ‘He hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted;’ and to the declaration in Isa 50:4, where it is said, ‘that I should know how to speak a word in season to him that is weary.’ The smoking flax – The word used here denotes flax, and then a wick that is made of it. The word rendered ‘smoking’ (כהה kēhâh) means that which is weak, small, thin, feeble; then that which is just ready to go out, or to be extinguished; and the phrase refers literally to the expiring wick of a lamp, when the oil is almost consumed, and when it shines with a feeble and dying luster. It may denote here the condition of one who is feeble and disheartened, and whose love to God seems almost ready to expire. And the promise that he will not extinguish or quench that, means that he would cherish, feed, and cultivate it; he would supply it with grace, as with oil to cherish the dying flame, and cause it to be enkindled, and to rise with a high and steady brilliancy. The whole passage is descriptive of the Redeemer, who nourishes the most feeble piety in the hearts of his people, and who will not suffer true religion in the soul ever to become wholly extinct. It may seem as if the slightest breath of misfortune or opposition would extinguish it forever; it may be like the dying flame that hangs on the point of the wick, but if there be true religion it will not be extinguished, but will be enkindled to a pure and glowing flame, and it will yet rise high, and burn brightly.” (Albert Barnes, Commentary E-Sword Edition)

There may be times where God finds it necessary to change our position, or our circumstances.

There are times when we have to make decisions for our well-being, and there is no guilt or shame in that. Jesus often took time to remove Himself from various situations if He needed to:

Mark 6:30-32-Then the apostles gathered to Jesus and told Him all things, both what they had done and what they had taught. 31  And He said to them, “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while.” For there were many coming and going, and they did not even have time to eat. 32  So they departed to a deserted place in the boat by themselves.

Here, John the Baptist had died, and Christ needed to change His location for a time. There were other times that He needed to do this as well:

Matthew 14:23-And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.

Mark 6:46-And when He had sent them away, He departed to the mountain to pray.

John. 6:15-17-Therefore when Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone. 16  Now when evening came, His disciples went down to the sea, 17  got into the boat, and went over the sea toward Capernaum. And it was already dark, and Jesus had not come to them.

Jesus will give help for His people.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the communion of the Holy Spirit, be with you all. Amen.

3 thoughts on “Flaming Out

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    1. Thank you for reading and sharing that encouragement. I am still trying to find balance with these things. Prayers are requested and appreciated.

  1. Hey bro I just seen this. I’ve known a lot and I mean a lot of bipolar people and I promise you that you are not one of them. This situation has been enough to drive anyone to a bad state of mind. If they said you’re bipolar I don’t want to know what they would say I am. I’m not joking when I say this you are the best person, friend, and brother in Christ that I’ve ever met, you’ve been really hurt by this and God will help you get back to yourself. I love you and I’m sorry. You do need a break you’ve been the back bone shouldering all the weight for so long and everyone you’ve helped come to Christ the devil don’t like it and he’s working hard because he don’t want you to do your work he wants this area but Gods not done he’s just starting and I know he loves you and will be with you. Praying for you bro we Love you

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