A Voice Said “Shout!”: on wrenching our attention toward what is lasting

A voice said, “Shout!”

I asked, “What should I shout?”

“Shout that people are like grass. Their beauty fades quickly as the flowers in a field. The grass withers and the flowers fade beneath the breath of the Lord, and so it is with people…But the Word of our God stands forever.”

Isaiah 40:6-8

When I was growing up, my dad had a rule: If there was screaming, there had better be blood.

He didn’t want us shouting about just anything. He wanted to know when he really needed to pay attention, when we were in trouble, when he should come running.

Part of growing up is learning to weigh our reactions to things, learning what is worthy of raising our voice; what things can we handle quietly and what are the things to which we must draw the attention of others?

So as I read this verse about the fading beauty of plants and people and the permanence of the Word of God, I knew it was true, but it raised the question: Why is this something to shout about?

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I think it’s because otherwise, it eludes our attention.

We fix our eyes on the here and now and the people around us. We become obsessed with our appearance and our status and obtaining the respect of all who look upon us and we forget how quickly all that we’re striving for fades.

We need it shouted in our faces: All that beauty? All the achievement? All that we have built? Gone. As quick as a withering plant. Impossible to hold onto. Dying. Fading. Passing. Like annuals, they flower and die within one season. Appreciate them, but don’t make them your end-all.

Shout it.

Shout it until it sinks into your brain and you are breathless and finally asking the million-dollar question: If not this, then what?

What lasts? What stands? What holds its beauty season after season?

The Word of God. 

So cherish it, pursue understanding it, fix your attention on it, live your life following it.

If not me, then who?

Who lasts? Who stands? Who holds their beauty season after season?

The Word of God.

Who took on a human body and lived among us, who defeated death and has become our cornerstone. There is rescue and hope and lasting honor in no other name.

So cherish him, pursue understanding him, fix your attention on him, and live your life following him.

People are like grass, but the Word of God stands. May we learn to build on what is lasting. May we hold on tight to what does not fade away.

Lord,

In all that I chase after and all that I build, may I not be the one who ignores you for the sake of chasing after the withering, fading treasures that the world holds up as worthy.

May I learn to shout to my own soul until it shakes off its distracted gaze, fixes its eyes on you alone and runs hard in the race you have set before me. You are the prize my heart must learn to treasure. 

You alone are worthy.

“All the nations of the world are but a drop in the bucket. They are nothing more than dust on the scales…All the wood in Lebanon’s forests and all Lebanon’s animals would not be enough to make a burnt offering worthy of our God.”

Isaiah 40:15-16

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