This morning, I was reading the first part of a Lenten Bible study (isn’t it crazy that we’re already approaching the Lent season this week?). As we look at our need for a Savior and the significance of Easter, part of the reading was Isaiah 30:15-18:
“For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel, in returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and trust shall be your strength. But you were unwilling, and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses; and therefore you will flee away;” and, “We will ride upon swift steeds;” therefore your pursuers shall be swift. A thousand shall flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you shall flee, til you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. 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 for him.”
This passage stuck out to me as illustrating so clearly several seasons in my life where I have seen the vivid love of Christ after a season of “trying to sail my own course” (to put it lightly).
In my own nature, I’m an “achiever.” I thrive on doing it all, and I like to do it by my own choice, in my own time, and in my own way. This leads to a plethora of other sinful side effects, like impatience and selfishness. I do not like for my own plans to be thwarted, and I’m angry at those who stand in my way.
When I was 31 weeks pregnant with my son, I went into pre-term labor. Thankfully, he was not born until almost 37 weeks, but I was on bed rest in the hospital for a very long time. When the initial scare was over, anyone who knew me well began to joke with me that “of course my child would try to be born 9 weeks early.” My kid would naturally be ready to get out of there and not be patient enough to wait until full term to be born!
I completely relate to the soldiers in Isaiah 30. “Returning? Rest? Um, that’s crazy! And this stuff about quietness and trust being my strength? Yeah…do you know me at all, God? You know what I think we should do? Get some super fast horses and get the heck out of dodge. That seems way more logical than this quietness and trust business.”
Of course, the plans of the soldiers were thwarted, just like mine have always been when I try to chart my own course. Your sins catch up with you and overtake you. You find yourself with a cold and lonely heart, unhappy, trying desperately to push forward of your own merit. You find yourself as a beacon on the top of a mountain, waiting alone for the army of sin and death to encircle you.
But then, the Lord is there with his marvelous grace. “[He] waits to be gracious to you, and therefore exalts himself to show mercy to you.” God waits to be gracious until we return from our silly escapade of selfish ambition. Then, when we once again realize that all our hope for anything in life or death is in him, he exalts himself by showing us such great mercy. He blesses us beyond anything we could have ever asked for; sometimes not by fulfilling materialistic needs, but with water for our souls that gives us the refreshment to keep walking with our hope steadfast in him.
There is such a difference in how you go about your day when you wake up in the morning with the mindset that this day and every day is the Lord’s, you’re going to walk in faithfulness to him, and he will provide for your needs. If you wake up in the morning at the mercy of your to-do list or are buried under the weightiness of your job, you will be weary and feel as if you’re running from the pursuit of faster horses. If you wake up and rest in God’s great mercy, and seek to filter every single aspect of your day through his will for us given in the scriptures, you will find rest for your soul in the peace of living with your identity in Christ.
This is so hard for me! My life is a constant cycle of trying to go my own way, the Lord making me wait and trust in him in some circumstance, finally surrendering to him after a long fight against my own will, and then being richly blessed by the goodness and graciousness of my patient Savior. I long for the day when I can stay consistently in the last part of that saga! I pray that the Lord will continue to sanctify me, and that throughout my life, I will see continued sanctification as I grow towards that. I know that when I am united with Christ in heaven, I will finally rest in every moment and circumstance. For now, I pray that the Lord will show me his grace by helping me to rest in all things.