For how long, Lord?

On Sunday we had our first preview service. After spending time praying over the teaching, we decided to focus on our three goals as a church: dynamic worship, intentional relationships, and risk-taking mission. 

You can listen to it here:


On Sunday, we looked at Isaiah 6 and how heavenly worship spelled out in this passage pushed Isaiah to go on a mission with God. We ended with the classic line in Isaiah 6:8

Then I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?

And I said, “Here am I. Send me!”

I told everyone that if our worship didn’t drive us to join God on a mission, then we need to close up shop. Worship should drive us to follow God on mission. Period. 

That’s where the teaching ended on Sunday, but that’s not where the passage ends. I thought I’d share what happens next here.

Remember, Isaiah’s world was falling apart. Enemies were advancing. Life was hard. So Isaiah inevitably asks the question we’ve all asked: “For how long, Lord?” (verse 11). How long should I keep doing this? When’s the end date for this mission trip? Is it a week long trip? Two weeks? A whole summer?

You see, he was eager to go on a mission with God, he just wanted to know how long it would take. How much time would he need to give up? When would it be over? When could he get back to his regular life?

How long, Lord?

Have you ever asked that question? I sure have. 

I’ve asked it every time God gives me something hard to do. “How long will I have to keep doing this?”

I love God’s response. 

He says this: 

“Until the cities lie ruined

   and without inhabitant,
until the houses are left deserted
   and the fields ruined and ravaged,
until the Lord has sent everyone far away
   and the land is utterly forsaken.”

God tells him what’s about to happen. He tells him about the coming pain and suffering. He tells him about the success of their enemies, and how they will overthrow their cities and take people as prisoners of war. And he says: keep doing what you’re doing through it all. Don’t stop, just because the world seems to.

There’s a profound lesson here. God’s mission doesn’t stop just because bad things happen. God’s mission advances through it.

In fact, the harder the world becomes, the more we need God’s mission. We don’t stop when things get hard, we keep moving forward, trusting in the mission we’re sent on. 

Asking how long is the wrong question anyway. It assumes there’s an end in sight. It assumes that this mission is an addition to your already good life, instead of the new pattern for a life you now have with God. 

God’s invited us to change the world, and that doesn’t happen over night. And even if things get worst before they get better, we have been invited on a mission because there’s a need. When the need increases, it only confirms the mission we’ve been sent on. 

So sure, we take seasons of rest. We take days of rest. We embrace our human limitations. But we keep pressing on through it all. 

This can seem scary. Impossible. And maybe that’s the point. 

People often say “If I had known what it would have taken, I would have never done it!”

Isaiah asks what it will take, and God’s honest with him. Maybe it would have been better if he had not asked at all. Maybe it’s better if we don’t either. Either way, we are on a mission with God that is impossible without God—whether we know it or not. So we don’t need to set our eyes on the mission at all, but on the God who is sending us, and everything else will take care of itself. 

What do you think? Do you worry God asks too much? Have you ever asked “how long?”

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