54:1 “Shout for joy, O barren one, you who have borne no child;
Break forth into joyful shouting and cry aloud, you who have not travailed;
For the sons of the desolate one will be more numerous
Than the sons of the married woman,” says the Lord.
Who gets the prizes in school? Is it not the student with the highest marks and the greatest achievements? Who gets the trophy at the end of the season? Is it not the team that wins? Who gets the bonus at work? The one with the highest sales right?
From the very beginning we are taught that winning and achieving matter. Nothing else matters. Then we bring that thinking into our religion. We must achieve. God sets the goal line and we must reach it to win heaven. Heaven becomes the trophy, God becomes the referee and rule maker, and we are the competitors. Like any race or challenge, some don't even bother to enter the competition, believing themselves hopeless from the start. Others feel they can't win with the goal line where it is, and the rules as they are so they set about to modify the course and bend the rules. Others attack the other competitors, thinking they will have a better chance of winning if they can eliminate other runners.
Abraham was of the group that changes the rules. He was told he and his wife Sarah would have a son but he felt Sarah was holding him back from gaining the prize so he switched partners. What he missed, and what we all miss is that heaven is not a trophy given to the winners. Heaven is our Home, given to us by Jesus, the Only One able to run the race. He is the Hero. He is the champion. We were never called to win, we were called to believe. Abraham turned God's promise into pressure. Instead of waiting and watching to see what God was going to do he looked inward and kept manipulating the situation trying to achieve instead of receive.
Isaiah talks about two women. One is unmarried and never had children. The other is married with children. The goal line of the race is motherhood. However the cheers are for the barren woman. She is the "winner"?!?! How is this possible?
When Jesus was hanging on the cross did anyone think He was a Hero? They did not because heroes win. Heroes don't die. They (including His own disciples) didn't understand the "race" He was in. Because they didn't understand the race they concluded He was a loser.
Do we understand the race we are in? It isn't a race to achieve. It is a race to believe.
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’
Many will present a résumé to God believing they were in a race of achievement. They mention nothing about Jesus other than using His Name for their own ends. Jesus rejects this. He doesn't know them. There is no relationship. They don't believe in Him. Jesus says they practiced lawlessness. They were outside the bounds of the "race". They turned a mission of believing into a mission of achieving and presented their accomplishments instead of the blood of the Lamb as their qualifications for Heaven.
Which "race" are you in?