I like the prophet, Isaiah! He is one of the Old Testament characters who God allows to do two things really well; Warn of judgment and proclaim the good news of a future hope! We all like the good news part! Jesus Christ has the best good news of all. The promise that we will find Him when we seek Him…
In previous chapters, Isaiah confronts his nation about their habitual sin and the irreversible imminent judgment headed their way. Then here, in a turn-a-bout, he gives his people the refreshing hope that when the ensuing troubles are over, God will still be faithful to lovingly fulfill his promise to them to restore their hope of being that luminary light to the gentile nations. Just one little catch though… they are to repent from their faithless ways and seek God’s face; Doesn’t sound so difficult, does it?
Have you ever been on a road trip and gotten lost? If you’re a guy like me, it happens all the time. Telling me how to get there, wherever ‘there’ is, can be sketchy…. Drawing me a map helps but is really 2nd best. What I really need is a guide – Someone who will get into the car with me and give me turn-by-turn instructions. Someone who knows the concrete jungle; where the road construction is, the ‘One Way’ streets, and the shortcuts to avoid backed-up traffic. Someone… who knows their way through this life! Sometimes, I won’t even stop to ask for help because, after all, I can do this myself. After wasted time & miles and miscued turns, I finally relinquish and… seek help – I beg the guide to get into the car with me! Why am I like this?
Sometimes, with self-righteous piety, I feel there is little time in his schedule for me. (That is code for ‘I believe He really doesn’t care about me’) Yet, the scriptures are clear that he takes joy in me seeking Him and He hears every word I utter. Every prayer lifted up. Along with being the commander of the universe, he really does care about every little thing in my life.
As the children’s song so clearly reminds us adults… ‘He gave his life, what more could he give… Oh, how he loves you, oh how he loves me. Oh, how he loves you and me. If all else fails, I can depend on his love for me!
Sometimes I too can be faithless and run to the world looking for solutions rather than running to God and, like Abraham of old, end up with an Ishmael – it is simply ‘unholy pride’ which says ‘I can fix this myself’… my sin, my bad habit, my addiction, my worrisome life, my spouse, my adult children, my finances, my…. forgetting that in seeking first my life, I lose it. But in losing my life for his sake and the gospel, I find it! And my loving God is only as far away as a bowed head, a prayer of repentance and a confession of faith in his love, his sovereignty, his impeccable perfect timing… and his peace which is mine when I am content simply being in his hand. Things begin to change when I seek him.
Now granted, we can feel quite small when we’re going through difficult times. It is a disquieting sense when we feel needy. It helps us realize our absolute need for God to help us. These are the times we find ourselves whispering panicky prayers as if our lives depended on them – because, in fact, they sometimes do. I love a comment by author Bob Goff: “It would be great if we could recognize how dependent we are on God when things are going great too, you know… when we’re healthy or have a little extra in our savings account maybe. But the discomfort brought by fear and uncertainty in our lives can become blessings. Here’s the reason why: comfortable people don’t need Jesus; desperate people do”. Desperate people will seek Him. We might think we’ve got everything in hand, but the reality is, we seldom do. Here’s the thing: we encounter God all over again every time we’re desperate enough to realize we’re not actually in charge. I’m convinced God uses uncertainty to chase us out into the open where we can find him all over again.
Fear and uncertainty catapult us toward God, and He’s always there when we land. When all signs tell us there is no way out, we find God in the uncertainty, and when we seek Him, He always makes a way. Take confidence in this. Sort of like being lost on your road trip…. realizing you’re terribly needy. It’s a good thing.