These are confusing days. The politics of the second Cold War. An election cycle beginning. The price of oil. Human rights issues. Religious wars. The economy. Globalization. Which direction should you look for guidance?
You presume my counsel is that you should look to God…but not so fast. There is merit in considering your options, especially when there is a great deal at stake. Looking to God may seem right, but it may not be sensible.
Personally, I’m in a pinch. I’m fighting battles on multiple fronts: professional, physical, economic, family…now that I start listing them, I’m surrounded. I suspect your report from the battle front is similar.
But I have some options. My history, training, resume, and abilities confirm that I have resources at my disposal. I have the force of my personality to be persuasive and engaging. I have reasonable intelligence. I have learned that I can think my way out of most any situation. Like a cat, I always land on my feet.
Perhaps most compelling is that I can determine a course of action toward resolution and relief today. Even a cursory assessment of my options declare the plans I should adopt. Right away.
I can do this….
And in so doing, declare with William Ernest Henley that “I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.”
The troubling thing about personal resources is that they can be independently engaged instead of first being empowered by God. Stress is a powerful motivator to act quickly; to determine the expedient route; to do what seems rational and escape the heat of the battle. Sensibility, expedience, and rationality are not necessarily indicators of God’s will.
All of the personal options I listed earlier are God-given abilities, but please note: God is not mentioned in my listing of personal resources. Therein is the problem and my point.
The prophet Isaiah lived in tumultuous times. We know from history and his book that the political, economic, spiritual, and physical climates of his day were unstable, even dangerous. The nation of Israel was in a pinch. The people were assessing their options and Isaiah was providing perspective.
God brought Israel out of Egyptian captivity and escorted them to the Promised Land. But Israel had a propensity to look backward—toward the resource of Egypt—rather than forward with faith in God.
Before them lay uncertainty, difficulty, and disconcerting problems. Behind them lay the riches and refuge of Egypt. Looking forward they gazed through the fog of faith with only the promise of God’s pledged faithfulness. Behind them they saw a certain path to perceived security. God’s promise was open-ended. Egypt afforded a quick resolution to their overwhelming stress. God’s timing seemed uncertain.
Isaiah writes to his countrymen, “Woe to those who go down to Egypt for help, / And rely on horses, / And trust in chariots because they are many / And in horsemen because they are very strong, / But they do not look to the Holy One of Israel, nor seek the LORD” (31:1).
The rational, expedient decision for Israel was to take matters into their own hands, call upon their resources—their network—and return to Egypt. To leave the Promised Land was the only sensible thing to do. Their demise was imminent. An ally of Egypt’s clout seemed reasonable. The only problem was, returning to Egypt meant turning away from God.
Friend, God is not rational, expedient, or sensible. If He were, you could figure Him out. He seems elusive because He is faithful, loving, honest, and eternal. You can’t understand God with intellect and analysis. You know God by faith, belief, and determined trust.
God does not demand that we depend on Him. He offers us the option of faith. We are free to choose Him or opt for our plan.
I can create a pretty good plan, and therein is the rub. The outcome is either un-faith or confident trust.
Always look to God. He may choose to utilize your options, but He may choose to work through another venue. Let it be His call—by faith—versus your insistence that He endorse your plan. He is a safe bet, regardless of the circumstantial evidence to the contrary.