By Lori Beard
Recently I have been studying Isaiah. It has been revealing to say the least. It has also been very convicting. It appears to me that the overarching theme of Isaiah is our dependence on ourselves as opposed to God.
God tells us in so many places in the Bible to depend upon Him and not ourselves. Proverbs 3:5-6 says to lean not on your own understanding but to trust in the Lord. 2 Cor 1:9 says to trust in the Lord God and not ourselves. But as I read through Isaiah, I see that Israel did not trust God well. And often I do not trust God.
Isaiah 29 speaks of the Potter and the clay. Clearly God is the Potter. I am the clay. But I don’t always act like He’s the Potter. And I certainly don’t live like I am the clay. Often I live just the opposite.
In Isaiah, God uses practical examples to show how Israel is not trusting in Him. When they were being attacked, they trusted in swift horses and fleeing. In other words, they trusted strong horses and running instead of God. Good grief! This is so like me. I often look for my strength in things besides God. When a struggle comes, what I might do first is get a plan in my mind of how to fix it. The problem with that plan is that often I have not consulted God first, by prayer or time in the Word.
Isaiah 29-30 talks about this very thing. It says Israel’s hearts have been hardened and they don’t listen to God’s Word coming through His prophet anymore. They don’t read or heed His Word. This is what depending on your own strength and plans looks like. It is the result of a hardened heart.
God forgive me. I do not want to be a hard-hearted Christian. I often am so proud of my own strength and my own ideas and my own ways that I refuse to look to Jesus first. Somehow I think it makes me look weak. But the Bible says God is made strong in my weakness! So why do I fight dependence upon God so much? Why? I don’t really know why I fight it. But I guess the answer is sin. Specifically, the sin of pride.
I am so proud of myself and my strength. I am arrogant. Ugly sin. But I do know how to battle sin, thank God. 1 Cor 10:13 says no temptation will come to us that God has not provided a way of escape. So, I know that the answer to the sin of trusting in myself is just to trust in God. It is to cry out to Him to help me and humble me. So that’s what I intend to do. I imagine I’m not the only Christian struggling with this matter. I imagine there are people in our church family and in our circles of brothers and sisters who struggle with self-strength. I hope that we love each another enough to pray for each other and to call out pride when we see it. To speak to each other with love and gentleness – words of life and truth.
And those words would probably sounds something like:
You cannot do this by yourself. Have you prayed about this sister or brother? What does the Bible say? Have you studied the Word in this matter?
Self-strength is ugly. But it can be attractive even to the Christian. It causes us to believe that we are sufficient in a way the Bible says we are not. I love Isaiah. Because Isaiah does not let you believe that lie. It knocks down all those deceptions and defenses and speaks truth instead. And the truth is that God is the only sufficient One. He is the only One with all the answers. He is the Truth. He is the only Hope. I am absolutely nothing and incapable of living rightly or wisely without His help.
This is God’s truth. I am not strong. You are not strong. We are not strong unless and until we put our whole hope in God.