The kids and I have been nibbling our way through the book of Isaiah for months. It's our first venture as a family into the prophets. We wrestle with the message. It's a book for our times.
Isaiah wrote to his people, the people of Judah, at the dawn of a long season of international turmoil. Assyria ran rough shod over the Middle East, followed in quick succession by Babylon, Persia and Greece. According to Isaiah, each empire was brought down because of they were quick to gloat over their achievements but failed to give God the time of day. The sin of haughty eyes he calls it.
I brown the meat and simmer the stew and slice a crusty loaf of Italian bread but do not bow my head before I eat. It's the little red hen complex. I ground the wheat and kneaded the dough and sliced the carrots. I don't take into account that I didn't make the carrots or the wheat grow. I forget to be thankful that there are groceries in the pantry and healthy children around the table. These things are not a right but a blessing. Surely the One who blesses deserves my recognition.
I'm not the only one. We toss groceries into our carts and pump gas into our cars and expect this system to continue without a hitch. When we show up at the gas station and the lines are long and the fuel is limited we duke it out. After all, it's our right to have a full tank. It's our right to drive to work, millions of us, each in our own vehicle.
It's been a long time since things have been difficult for this nation. And when we have it easy, we lean hard on the work of our hands. Our banks, our jobs, our government. They are coated with a thin veneer of stability. We fool ourselves into thinking these things are a sure foundation. We build our towers of Babel and tell ourselves that the bricks of morality are expendable. A little debt, a little gambling, a little greed, a little selfishness. What does it matter? And we push the boundaries, further and further, until the whole house of cards comes crumbling down.
Crumbling is a good thing. It makes us realize that we aren't gods. God is. He will be the sure foundation for our times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure. Isaiah 33:6
In church, our worship leader laid down his guitar right in the middle of a song he was singing and knelt on the floor and wept. "Change me! God, change me! I'm sick of playing church. I'm sick of walking into this building on Sunday mornings and leaving again exactly the way I walked in." This is how I feel about the message in Isaiah. I do not want to get to the end of the sixty-sixth chapter and be the same complacent person that I was when we started chapter one. I do not want to have large sections of my life where I don't see the need for God to tread because I've got it covered. I'm learning that my frantic efforts are temporary and ineffective. When I acknowledge that all that I have and all that I am comes from Him, that is the fear of the Lord and it is the key to unlock the door to the sure foundation. I've had plenty of opportunity to test this foundation and have found Him to be rock solid. Trusting God is a whole lot better than depending on the government, the bank, or myself.