There have been a lot of decisions to be made these last few weeks in my life, and in many of my friend's lives. The new year brings a sweet and challenging season of reflection on the past and planning for the future, and we're all going through it in our own ways. Last night, as I headed to bed, I decided on a whim to ring in the new year with the Word. So, I pulled a "flip the Bible open to a random spot and see what the Spirit shows you", and I ended up reading Isaiah 30-32. The opening words hit me like a train, " 'Ah stubborn children', declares the Lord, 'who carry out a plan, but not mine, and who make an alliance, but not of my spirit..."(30:1). Have we been seeking God in our planning, or have we just been making our lists, weighing our pros and cons and forgetting to live life in light of the reality of eternity? Are we leaning on Him to provide for our needs, or are we proud, trusting in our skills or strength to bring us through? As westerners, especially Americans, we're so prone to believe that if we just work hard enough, everything will work out. Isaiah goes on to say, "Because you despise this word, and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out, and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; it's breaking is like that of a potter's vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is to be found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern...'In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength'" (30:12-15). I need constant reminders that I can't do it on my own, and God has done a wonderful job this year of exposing my own dependence and daily need for mercy (not that he's ever not done a wonderful job). The lie that I can do things on my own is oppressive and burdensome. Finding out that it's a lie is painful, and requires a breaking of my prideful will; a smashing of what I think is my identity until it's so minute I realize I can't even use the shards to "dip up water" from those broken cisterns that I think will satisfy the longings of my heart. It's then, and only then, that I can turn to Christ. We talk a lot about how Christ heals our brokenness; Praise God, He does! But I think we forget the beauty of brokenness. We need the pain that the truth brings. If we spend our lives praying that God will make us comfortable and keep us safe, we'll be devastated and confused to find out that our God is not just some benevolent grandfather that gives us everything we desire and glosses over the reality that we're sinful and fallen. I thank God that he's gracious enough not to let me continue in my stubborn independence. But he doesn't just break us to show us that we're sinful and leave us there to wallow in our nothingness! I love the beauty of that promise, "in returning and rest you shall be saved". What's easier than resting? Seriously. It's such a sweet image of a simple kind of faith. Children have to rest all the time, they trust without foolish anxieties about what exactly their next year will look like, what they'll do for the rest of their lives. We have a sovereign and loving Father in heaven, let's rest in the knowledge that he has a plan. Let's be still and know that He is God.
"Therefore, the Lord waits to be gracious to you, and therefore he exalts himself to show mercy to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait on him" (30:18). Friends, what better thing can we know that all it takes for God's blessing in our lives is to wait on and follow him?