Isaiah 29

Set Me Free

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Thus says the Lord GOD:
But a very little while,
and Lebanon shall be changed into an orchard,
and the orchard be regarded as a forest!
On that day the deaf shall hear
the words of a book;
And out of gloom and darkness,
the eyes of the blind shall see.
The lowly will ever find joy in the LORD,
and the poor rejoice in the Holy One of Israel.
For the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone;   ~  Isaiah 29:17 – 20

          Oh dear Lord, I pray almost incessantly these days, Let that come to pass. That the tyrants and the arrogant at work be gone. Twenty years and counting, I cannot go on anymore. So many times, I imagined leaving this place. There were opportunities – but I turned away from each one for they would have taken me away from my husband and children. Any move would have entailed a long commute. With my husband already working away from home, my long hours would have broken and splintered this life we worked so hard to build. And each time I turned away from the hope of freedom to return to my prison cell of work, I knew this was the price of putting family first. Yet, it was also a price I would willingly pay over and over for choosing family.

         …the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone

          Today though, a deep weariness overwhelms me. It contrasts sharply with my happiness and the heightening inner skip of my spirit as Advent deepens towards Christmas. This tells me how wrong it is to feel so afraid of work – simply because of those in charge – not work itself. If there’s anything I’ve learned this difficult year it is that I have an enormous capacity for work even if I often don’t realise it, and that I can adapt and succeed, despite being rather slow in understanding so many things.

          Yet, what blights my day and wounds me continuously is the arrogance of my superiors in the way they force us to bend to their whim. There are no productive discussions, little respect for genuine effort but plenty of meddling and interference. Today, it is very clear that what I am struggling with is not my inability to work nor is it my inability to be obedient to authority. We welcomed a new boss early this year, and like most new leaders, he had his own ideas of what he wanted implemented in our organization. This otherwise gentle and likable guy didn’t really take the time to understand what we were already doing and if anything needed change. Yet, I didn’t have a problem adapting to his vision and direction. For a while that puzzled me. What this new boss was asking had put me under extra pressure but I seemed able to comply and cope – cheerily too. By contrast, I was in a constant state of tension, fear and anger when working under my other superiors.

… the tyrant

          Today, I understand why: I am struggling under tyrannical authority. That, for me, is the mark of the beast that differentiates those others from my new boss – tyranny.

For tyranny is born of narcissism and narcissism is the plague that has taken so much away from me.

          God has told us to love one another, to love our enemies, to love those who do us harm. But is there a demarcation between this love and subjection to tyranny? Jesus loved in every instance of His life, right to His death on the Cross – but He never allowed Himself to be subject to the tyrannical authority of the Pharisees. He didn’t bend to their vision of God and of life. He didn’t walk the paths they set out.

          How do I do as Jesus did?

          I think I have tried to love, albeit imperfectly. This mottled love I’ve mustered under the pain of sacrifice for those who do me harm has not been a tale spanning a mere few years. It’s been twenty years. But there’s no escaping the fact that my twenty years wilts in comparison to the Israelites’ suffering of forty years in the desert. Held up against that gold standard of what suffering truly is, mine sure seems like a petulant whine.

          And still I cannot rise to my feet, suitably shamed to contrition. Please GodI can’t go on anymore, for today, I know my enemy’s name. Having lived in the chokehold of fear for most of my life, I don’t want to be a prisoner to tyranny any longer.

          Yet, with eight long years left to retirement and no other work options, I have nowhere to go.

…the tyrant will be no more
and the arrogant will have gone…

          Please, Lord. Please, take them away.

          Set me free.