CGG Weekly, August 30, 2019

"Don't be afraid to take a big step. You can't cross a chasm in two small jumps."
David Lloyd George

Our daily lives are filled with struggle. Just in working at our jobs, paying bills, maintaining relationships, and putting out occasional "fires" that flare up, we are barraged with various trials. Peter tells us that this is no strange thing (I Peter 4:12). After all, we are physical, mortal beings, and just the effort to survive is a full-time task! If we imagine our area of responsibility in life as an expanding balloon, it is easy to see that we are not capable of handling much beyond the taut, thinning wall of the balloon. As responsibilities pile on, if we fail to delegate, manage, or solve them, our balloon may very well burst, taking the air out of our once well-contained life.

Though many of us realize that we indeed cannot "do it all," some in this world believe and preach the exact opposite. Slogans like "Just believe in yourself" and "Nothing is impossible" are peddled from every self-help book, motivational speech, and rah-rah blog. Although these phrases sound good and motivating, they often fail to inspire the desired change. Many trying to climb the ladder slowly lose confidence, even while achievers berate them for not trying hard enough, as though it were only a matter of effort. While elements of truth exist on both sides, the reality is that true, lasting accomplishment and satisfaction cannot be found in them (Ecclesiastes 1:2-14).

What if there were a resource to which we could turn endlessly to refresh us when facing times of opposition? What if it was timeless and alive, capable of rejuvenating the weary spirit inside us? What if it was easily accessible and authoritative, a tool that could provide us with both vision and skills to accomplish its lofty goals?

As Christians, we realize that this resource is the living, powerful Word of God. To some people, such idealistic beliefs can be off-putting, and to them, when the Bible is mentioned as a resource of strength and purpose, they meet it with everything from eye-rolls to bitterness and apathy. Those called of God should certainly not react this way. After all, if we are named "the children of God" and have this reaction, what does it say about our faith? We become angry when our earthly fathers are insulted. When our individual reputations are dragged through the mud, do we not feel it? What, then, ought we to feel for our generous Father in heaven when His name and wisdom are rejected and diminished in our presence? Do we feel offended when Scripture is derided—when we know the miracles it has worked in our lives?

What is our reaction to God's Word? Have we ever considered what God feels when we carelessly or thoughtlessly swat away His hand reaching out to help us? He says in Isaiah 65:2, "I have stretched out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in a way that is not good, according to their own thoughts." Toward us, God extends a helping hand, a strong arm of saving power. He is always willing to reach down and save us if we would only believe Him and repent. Indeed, He challenges us to believe Him in this matter:

"Come now, and let us reason together," says the LORD. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow: though they are red like crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword"; for the mouth of the LORD has spoken. (Isaiah 1:18-20)

God never tries to deceive us or lead us into a trap, and although we often ensnare ourselves in sin, He is still willing to pull us out again and make us clean. As a perfect Father, He does not do this to give us license to return to our ignorant or rebellious behavior, but to strengthen our trust in Him that He was right all along and that we can trust His teaching! If we will not believe His kind words of instruction, we will be forced to learn the hard way—through His thundering words of correction and the bitter effects of sin.

In this passage, He sets His seal upon it by stating, "For the mouth of the LORD has spoken." What He speaks does not return to Him empty; it will accomplish what He sends it out to do (Isaiah 55:11). His words are that powerful!

With such precious promises of deliverance and reward comes an understanding that translates into a feeling. This feeling is one we humans find difficult to deal with: fear. This fear, however, is a good fear. A fear of God and His willingness to help us becomes a fear of doing anything that may lose us His favor. Consider Hebrews 4:1, "Therefore, since a promise remains of entering His rest, let us fear, lest any of you seem to have come short of it."

Indeed, God has stretched out His offering of salvation to each of us. Do we believe that? Do we recoil at the idea because such a remarkable understanding may contain heavy responsibilities? Today, mainstream Christians do this as a matter of course, it seems, claiming Jesus as their Savior then doing their own thing, never thinking that they might actually have to change their ways, as Isaiah 1:16-17 demands:

Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil, learn to do good; seek justice, rebuke the oppressor; defend the fatherless, plead for the widow.

Every Christian must answer the question, "What do I fear more: losing my status, wealth, lifestyle, pleasures, friends, or whatever vice I may have—or God?"

Hebrews 4 recollects how the unfaithful Israelites were consumed by fear, but not the fear of God. They feared the might of the Canaanites so much that they allowed it to impede and ultimately arrest the exercise of faith. Only Caleb and Joshua believed God enough to know that, having said He would take care of their enemies in the land, God and His promises to them would not fail. Because of their faith, they were prepared—not to "do it all"—but to plunge into the Promised Land and make whatever sacrifices were required of them to do their part, knowing God was with them.

In the same way, God is ever willing to help us in this journey to His Kingdom. He is not only willing, but He is also worthy of our trust to the highest degree.