A friend called me the other day, “just to hear my voice”. She wanted to know I was there at the other end of the line. She didn’t need a favor, or advice, she had no reason to seek a shoulder to cry on, nor did she have earth shattering, clapping hand for joy news. She just wanted to say “Hi- glad you are my friend and still answer my calls.”
It was wonderful to hear her voice as well, but I still questioned why she had called. To be honest, I felt it wasted my time just a bit. She didn’t need me for anything. Then, in Isaiah I read this passage as part of my daily readings –
The LORD called me from the womb, from the body of my mother he named my name. He made my mouth like a sharp sword; in the shadow of his hand he hid me; he made me a polished arrow; in his quiver he hid me away. And he said to me, “You are my servant, Israel, in whom I will be glorified.” But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.” (Isaiah 49:1b-4 ESV)
Okay- maybe you don’t get the connection, so let me string the pearls. Then you will see why it stabbed my heart.
For over four years I have been a freelance writer and a Christian writer. Two years and four months ago, I was widowed with very little economic cushion to bolster me. Yet every time I tried to find a job, the doors whammed shut. Since I have been self- employed I do not qualify for unemployment. I am too young to receive widow benefits. I have beat my head against so many walls trying to get noticed in the Christian publishing world and actually make a living writing for God. I have marketed myself, done workshops and speaking engagements, spent money on writing conferences, on advertising, and even pens and mints to give away. I have had a few amazing monetary gifts from friends to tide me over, yet medical bills and other bills have chomped up a lot of it.
I was ready to give it up. I will pound pavements and take any job that comes along – wait – really? How can I do that in an economy where jobs are scarce as hen’s teeth? I felt like those wind up toys that knock into furniture legs and then change direction just to knock into another one.
Still not seeing it? The passage in Isaiah says God has molded him into what He needs Isaiah to be and then has quivered him- put him back in the sheave, hid him in His hand. God say Isaiah is the one He will use- not is using. . The prophet’s response pierced me – But I said, “I have labored in vain; I have spent my strength for nothing and vanity; yet surely my right is with the LORD, and my recompense with my God.” That was me in a nutshell. I felt I had spent it all for nothing- with little to how for it. That was vanity pure and simple. The same was true for the call from my friend. I felt as if she had not needed me. That is vanity as well.
Is God molding you, yet not using you as you wish He would? Do you feel like a sharpened arrow ready to soar but are still in the quiver, dependent upon Him to put you to work? Are you still there waiting to be purposeful? Have you given up hope?
Are you content to hide in the quiver until He is ready to use you for His glory? I am in here as well- waiting to be used. I will no longer spend my strength on nothing and my vanity assuming that it if for Him and not myself. As long as I am in the quiver, I am protected and safe.
That quiver is a life cocooned in prayer – which means listening instead of just talking, and being on the other end just in case He calls. It also means being content that He may be calling just to know I’m still at the other end…waiting.