Busy, Busy, Busy…

We are busy people these days. Whenever we have issues we want to resolve or troubles that we’re facing, we begin actively looking for allies. We busy ourselves with finding the right solution, then we get to work laying out a plan, and finally, we run hard getting that plan implemented.

The problem with all this busy-ness is that we can fall into a habit of seeking solutions and help from everyone but God. We make plans that don’t include consulting his word, or seeking him in prayer. We get busy working a plan that takes us further away from God rather than closer to him.

Why would we do this? All kinds of reasons, really. Sometimes in our ignorance or arrogance, we think we have a clearer view of the situation than God does — and thus, a clearer view of the right path forward. Sometimes we are driven by fear to do things we wouldn’t normally do. We’re scared.

At other times, it’s selfishness and greed. We want what we want when we want it. Right now, if possible. Or a form of selfishness and greed — lust — drives us to chase things that make us feel good, no matter what it costs the other people affected. Often those solutions are very short-sighted, and later, the personal fall-out can be quite serious.

The Israelites were like this. They were busy, busy, busy. They had powerful friends, an active social life. And those friends — well, they were in all the right places. If hard work and great connections always brought success and salvation, they should have been prime candidates.

But instead, they were failing. And they were falling. Their relationship with God was a mess. So God — the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel — says to them through Isaiah the prophet: “Slow down. Stop talking. Quit thinking that the Egyptians are the answer to your problems.”

“Pharaoh is not the one to look to. I am! Turn back to me. Quietly examine your hearts. Rethink your beliefs — and the words and actions that flow from those beliefs. Stop all the activity, find a quiet place to sit down, and meditate on my forgiveness, power, love and faithful help.”

So, what’s your “Egypt”? Who’s your “Pharaoh”? What activity do you need to stop doing for a little while? What plans do you need to set aside for a moment?

And where is that “quiet place” in your home, or in your neighborhood, or somewhere within a few hours travel, where you can just go and think? Take your Bible. Prepare your heart for prayer. It may be time for a little repentance, a little rest, a little quietness and a little trust.

“This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: ‘In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength, but you would have none of it'” (Isaiah 30:15, NIV).

Lord, stop me from chasing constant activity, busy-ness and human allies. Help me to step aside from the rush, reconnect with you, and repent of my sins. Help me to remember that rest and quietness coupled with repentance and faith are my salvation. Remind me to find time to look to Jesus, listen to him, and be reminded he is the real Solution for all my problems.

Our Bible reading for Saturday, September 12, is Isaiah 29:1 – 30:18, 2 Corinthians 12:11-21 and Psalm 107:1-9.

Header image based on "busy schedule?" by flik, CC By 2.0

A Stronghold and a Shelter

When I visited Mozambique this past summer I got a chance to visit the Ilha de Mocambique, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The reason this small, seemingly insignificant island is so highly honored is its history. On the island itself is the Fort Sao Sabastio, the oldest fort still standing in sub-Saharan Africa. This massive fort’s construction began in 1558, and was not completed until fifty years later.

It was a true stronghold, evidenced by how solidly it still stands more than four hundred years later. With a little clean-up, it could still be a functioning fort. In fact, there’s a proposal on the books in Mozambique to turn it into a university.

This is now the place I think of when I read Psalm 27. God is like this solid stronghold, only far better. This stone fort is actually a mere shadow of the stronghold that our Lord is.

The promises of Psalm 27 are truly awe-inspiring. The Lord is our refuge. Our shelter. Our rock.

He will give us courage when we are afraid. He will give us confidence when we are shaky. He will give us calm when we are threatened.

The Lord is my light and my salvation—
    whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
    of whom shall I be afraid?

For in the day of trouble
    he will keep me safe in his dwelling;
he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent
    and set me high upon a rock” (Psalm 27:1, 5, NIV). 

So what’s your personal version of “the day of trouble” right now? What’s keeping you awake at night? What history is chasing you? What enemy is pursuing you? What situation is threatening you?

Here’s God’s promise to you: Jesus will guide you, and light the way forward with his word. Jesus will protect you behind the walls of his love. Jesus will hide you under the tent of his grace. Jesus will set you high on the rock of his righteousness.

Our Bible reading for Friday, February 27, is Leviticus 1:1 – 3:17, Mark 9:33 – 10:12, and Psalm 27:1-6.

Header image based on "Fortaleza de Sao Sebastao" by Aly, shared publicly on Google Plus