Isaiah 35

I think I mentioned the Connect weekend earlier in June.

During the course of it, I attempted three pieces of artwork. Pictures of people are one of my weak points, so I abandoned my attempt to draw a man in armour (God’s armour) standing on top of a hill, holding a staff with what I call the Banner of the Lion and the Lamb – the banner itself is red, with a lamb and a lion either side of the cross.

Having abandoned that as a bad job (if anyone would like to draw it for me, please do), I did a smaller one of the banner itself and the words “I will stand under the banner of the Lion and the Lamb, the banner of truth and love” or something.

The other one I drew was a desert scene, with a river flowing right through it and green spreading either side, with trees and flowers. I tried looking for the Bible reference, and found one somewhere in Isaiah, but it was the wrong one.

The correct one is Isaiah 35:

ISA 35:1 The desert and the
parched land will be glad;
the wilderness will rejoice and blossom.
Like the crocus, 2 it will burst into bloom;
it will rejoice greatly and shout for joy.
The glory of Lebanon will be given to it,
the splendor of Carmel and Sharon;
they will see the glory of the LORD,
the splendor of our God.

ISA 35:3 Strengthen the feeble hands,
steady the knees that give way;

ISA 35:4 say to those with fearful hearts,
“Be strong, do not fear;
your God will come,
he will come with vengeance;
with divine retribution
he will come to save you.”

ISA 35:5 Then will the eyes of the blind be opened
and the ears of the deaf unstopped.

ISA 35:6 Then will the lame leap like a deer,
and the mute tongue shout for joy.
Water will gush forth in the wilderness
and streams in the desert.

ISA 35:7 The burning sand will become a pool,
the thirsty ground bubbling springs.
In the haunts where jackals once lay,
grass and reeds and papyrus will grow.

ISA 35:8 And a highway will be there;
it will be called the Way of Holiness.
The unclean will not journey on it;
it will be for those who walk in that Way;
wicked fools will not go about on it.

ISA 35:9 No lion will be there,
nor will any ferocious beast get up on it;
they will not be found there.
But only the redeemed will walk there,

ISA 35:10 and the ransomed of the LORD will return.
They will enter Zion with singing;
everlasting joy will crown their heads.
Gladness and joy will overtake them,
and sorrow and sighing will flee away.

Wow.

This was read a couple of times at Streetreach, and it is so full of hope for Belfast, which is probably best described as exactly that – a desert waiting for rivers to flow and bring life back to it.

We keep praying, waiting and watching. It’s going to happen.

(just don’t ask me when)

SRConfidential Days 3, 4, 5…

Sorry folks, but the SM broadband modem was taken away on Friday before I could do any further blogging.

Talking of which, Friday. I spent the day back at the King’s Hall. It turned out to be a fairly quiet day as far as I can remember – I was already getting really tired. Think it was the day I had long chats with Holly and Railto – it was also the day we were looking out for John to send him back home if he came on site.

John not having appeared, I faced a 24 hour day on Saturday, starting at 4am. I don’t do early mornings at all well, and late nights don’t help either… nor does some kind person moving all the toilet cleaning stuff into the middle of the Paddock subcamp so we can’t find them to make the toilets nice and clean for the Streetreachers… (they had to wait until this morning!)

Saturday afternoon a tired Andy hit the Woodvale area to do photography for the street carnival, which got moved into Springfield Road Methodist due to the rain. There was genuine excitement about the carnival amongst the kids, as I walked round with one of the teams – unfortunately, I missed seeing the kids coming through the infamous Workman Avenue gates. One day that peace wall will be torn down as totally unnecessary, we have to believe it.

Inevitably, a few of us found ourselves round the piano in Springfield Road Methodist, perhaps even more inevitably including myself. One of the Team Leaders, Philip was doing a three chord thing of ways to praise God, before moving into more secular stuff – I threw in a little Beatles and some worship songs.

Back on site, everyone arrived back early for the last night. Ryan Mitchell, who hosts Ignite (and Summer Madness and a lot of other sites) has become a fantastic worship leader, with great sensitivity and fine musical ability. A friend of Johnny Parks and fan of Tim Hughes, he kept some of the songs going from Summer Madness, including a very good one of Tim’s – “God of Justice (We must go)”, which is so appropriate to Streetreach, perhaps especially in the context of SBSUSM07 (oh ok, it’s Stand By or Stand Up – Summer Madness 07. They told us on Monday night) which was on wristbands and all Streetreach and Staff t-shirts this year, and has really already been launched.

People were feeding back about what was happening in their areas, and one team revealed that 17 kids were saved in one area alone. Wow!

The main thing that Linda Gordon said, imparting a vision for next year, was nothing to do with next year, but that we need to go into our communities and act now rather than wait.

I’m going to make one final observation on the day that I finally came home after 13 nights at Balmoral, and that is that as an observer, which in many ways I was this year (nearly all the Team Leaders and Delegates this year were under 30 – the over 30s mainly coordinated areas alongside other under-30s, or did homebase), I watch, listen, and take photographs of some incredible stuff being done by God through my friends in Belfast.

Where will it all lead to? Full-blown revival? We can only hope so, because seeds planted are beginning to ripen.

This blog will return to normal from the next entry!