“But you did not depend on Him who made it, nor did you take into consideration Him who planned it long ago.” Isaiah 22:11
When I was young I often went to the beach in southern California. There I would spend the day enjoying the sunshine, the ocean, sand and beauty related to those things. During the day as a young boy I would invariably take a small bucket down to where the wet sand began, just beyond the surf, and spend time building my great sand castle. They were always an architectural masterpiece, at least in my mind. These castles had significant walls, spires and parapets. There were internal arches and external moats filled with water. I built the walls facing the ocean both high and thick, attempting to prepare for what eventually would come; the changing tide. It was the same every time. The tide would rise, the surf would pound closer and closer into the shoreline and my great edifice would slowly erode. For all my plans and efforts to build an impregnable structure, the power of the waves always won the battle. My energy to manage and control the situation could never match the onslaught of raw power in the shifting tide and raging water. But I came back time and time again and tried.
I find myself in a constant state of planning, management and control. It is my default mechanism in interfacing with life and alleviating my fear. The quality that I lack so often in my default response is faith. I tend to trust my own instincts, my abilities or my solutions more than I do most other people’s, especially God’s. Now that I have confessed this let me be clear. It is not an overt rejection of God or His power and provision. It is far more covert. I do what I have to do to insure the kind of life I would prefer to live. So I plan, manage and control to the best of my abilities. What I tend to forget along the way is that the whole of creation testifies to power greater and more awesome than mine. Whether it is a binding blizzard of snow on the Wyoming prairie, a tsunami wave off the coast of Japan, or a tiny virus unseen to the naked eye, I am surrounded by forces that I have no power to manage or control, much less plan effectively for.
The prophet Isaiah speaks to the people of Judah in the Old Testament Scriptures and describes their attempts to prepare, protect and provide for themselves while surrounded by danger and threat. And in those preparations they feel secure, so much so that they celebrate in the face of danger. Yet the reality is that their dependence on their own provision and protection lacks the stability and security they desire. It won’t ultimately save them.
The resources upon which they relied to guard their lives always originated with God and were to be a means to draw them into a more vital faith and dependence upon Him. It is similar to my efforts to plan, manage and control. I easily access the resources of God without considering their origin or intention. The blessings of God manifested in a home, job, relationships, insights, talents and skills all have become a false security rather than a means to lead me into further dependence upon the God who made these things.
Two practices I find helpful in turning me to the Lord in this matter of faith are gratefulness always for the various ordinary and extraordinary gifts He allows me to enjoy, and open handedness regarding those very same blessings. In these two practices, intentionally saying thank-you for all things, and intentionally opening my hands (so God can remove what is less helpful to my faith and give me what is more helpful to my faith), I am reminded of my dependence upon the grace, mercy and love of God sustaining me in all circumstances.
As you consider this day and your own faith, may you also practice those things that will further draw you into relationship with the God who loves you and sustains you by His power. He truly is our sure and secure refuge. Here is another song to further your reflection.