This week, David Sons came and spoke with us. Through David being vulnerable with our body of students about something he has been working through lately, it paved a way for the Spirit to work and move, speaking to us in a real and relatable way that was transformational.
No one really acknowledges how incredibly difficult it is to walk as a Christian in college.
College is an insanely selfish time where the confusion of finding our “identity” in things other than who we are in Christ is HUGE –things like a potential career, relationship status, friend group, grades, or extracurricular activities captivate our thoughts and take them hostage. We need to recognize that all of these external things don’t make us who we are or give us value at all–they are merely expressions of the roles He calls us into in a life of growing closer to Him and doing the work He calls us to through seeking Him.
There’s even the argument that we make following Christ more difficult than God really intended it to be. We often face “dry seasons” of not really feeling delighted in the Lord and His Word. This leaves us feeling spiritually exhausted or joyless with seemingly no root cause. We may even begin to doubt and ask many, many questions deep inside–maybe, if we’re being real…even questioning the justification of our salvation.
David’s argument is that this emotionless, dry season may come from two causes:
- unconfessed, unrepented sin
- disconnect between our head and our heart (what we know and what we feel)
Symptoms of these deeper causes could be resulting in feeling not good enough, feeling like you need works to prove your worth to God, underlying sin of comparison, or feeling the need to overcompensate through trusting in your own works rather than in the Lord.
These underlying sins are manifestations of doubting God’s promises, whether we’re aware of it or not. In the book Everyday Church by Steve Timmis and Tim Chester, they lay out these promises:
- God is so great; I don’t have to be in control.
- God is so glorious; I don’t have to fear others.
- God is so good; I don’t have to look elsewhere.
- God is so gracious; I don’t have to prove myself.
Doubt can be a healthy thing that grows you in your search to know God more fully and completely through questioning, but it can also sprout weeds of sin like pride, self-righteousness, fear, comparison, and insecurity depending on what we do with that skepticism.
One thing we can do when we are curious about the true character and will of God is to read His Word He has so graciously gifted us. He’s willing and able to use the Word and movement of the Spirit to show us the Son to work in our hearts –but this comes through daily, consistent hunger for this God-breathed masterpiece…whether we are in the mood or not.
In Isaiah 30, the story of the destruction of Judah continues, as God is about to allow the country of Assyria to wipe them out for means of refining and purification. So as Judah is faced with imminent invasion, they have the choice to either trust the Lord wholly for miraculous deliverance or to seek their own salvation through other sources –in this case, making an alliance with Egypt for protection. Their decision to ally with Egypt shows a total lack of mistrust in their Lord and validates their need for redirecting their eyes back onto God.
This story may seem not relatable at all to you in that context, but think about it this way –is there any place in your life where you could wholly trust the Lord, but instead of fully turning it over to Him, you feel the need to make some sort of back up plan? What alliances have you made? Saying God I believe you, but just in case… Where are you trying to take control of a battle on the Lord can deliver you from?
Judah thinks they may be able to take matters into their own hands through this ally, but will never be able to thwart God’s plan of reformation for their people no matter how hard they may try. Assyria will be swifter than them and conquer them. The character of God is to protect and provide, but we have to accept that from Him and fully believe He will do it, rather than try to take matters into our own hands so foolishly.
The mission of God in the World is that He is zealous for His glory. A common misconception of this truth is that by our effort and level of how much kingdom work we can do is the level at which God is then glorified. This is not reality. God’s glory is not dependent on what level or amount of ministry you are involved in. In fact, that makes God sound super small if you ask me. God’s glory isn’t dependent on you and it doesn’t need your effort at all. It’s actually us just you manipulating God’s favor for self-righteousness in feeling as though our works are enough to bring Him glory. God’s glory is revealed through Him showing mercy to people who truly don’t deserve one ounce of it –His mercy and what He does inside of us, not through us, is what shows the immeasurable glory of God. Not by what you do for Him, but what He does for you.
Therefore, the Lord calls on them in v.15 and says, “In returning and rest you shall be saved; in quietness and in trust shall be your strength. But you were unwilling…”
In returning and rest, He will deliver you. All Judah had to do was rest and return to the Lord and He would deliver them, despite their sinfulness. Returning, turning away from what we are chasing in the opposite direction of God and coming back to Him (repentance) and resting, being unbelievably secure that He’s got it covered (you can’t rest at night if you don’t believe you are safe and secure in your surroundings). Jesus preaches this same thing in Mark 1:14-15, repent and believe the gospel.
…BUT THE PEOPLE WERE UNWILLING. WHAT THE HECK. WHY?! It seems so unbelievable reading that Judah would refuse to let God deliver them, but we literally do this everyday. Anxiety? Grades? Insecurity? He wants us to give that to Him. Parent’s approval? Comparison? Your future? Lay that down on His shoulders. What other’s think? Pride? Not feeling as though you matter? Drop it at the feet of the cross. We are unwilling to walk in the freedom that His mercy, grace, and forgiveness totally and completely gives us every. single. day.
v.18 “Therefore the Lord waits to be gracious to you. For the Lord is a God of justice; blessed are all those who wait for him.”
HE WAITS TO SHOW MERCY. UNTIL IT MEANS SOMETHING. UNTIL WE GET IT.
God loves us enough to let us walk through the wilderness to extract sinfulness and distraction in our hearts and focus on Him wholly.
We can’t outrun the collapse of our idols, the destruction that our sinful, wandering hearts leads us to. But we can turn around and realize that Jesus is the only thing that will EVER satisfy and run after Him as hard as we can.
Receiving and accepting a grace and forgiveness that doesn’t make sense is one of the biggest battles. You’re not alone in that. We need to learn to walk in the freedom that God calls us into when He defeated death and sin once and for all on that cross. He doesn’t even remember the sin that you’re still so wound up about. He forgets it the moment that you give that over to Him in confession and repentance. Don’t let Satan convince you that you’re not worthy or capable to do God’s work for a sin that has already been redeemed.
Just like in the story of the prodigal’s son, after so much time running away from what the Father has for us, when our idols outrun us and drag us into an unsatisfying pit of unhappiness –we run back to Him. Though we aren’t worthy and don’t feel worthy –He doesn’t accept us back as a servant, He says YOU’RE MY SON. I don’t need works from you; I just want you exactly as you are. Works are just an outward expression of the change in our hearts and love for God in obedience to Him –they aren’t a litmus test of what level Christian you are. He’s looking and searching for you to run back to Him waiting with open arms. He knows where you’ve been, what you’ve done. He’s not looking for an explanation. He just wants you. He thinks you’re so worth the cross.
“ For a people shall dwell in Zion, in Jerusalem; you shall weep no more. He will surely be gracious to you at the sound of your cry. As soon as he hearts it, he answers you. And though the Lord give you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, yet your Teacher will not hide himself anymore, but your eyes shall see your Teacher. And your ear shall hear a word behind you, saying, ‘This is way, walk in it,’ when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left. Then you will defile your carved idols overlaid with silver and your gold-plated metal images. You will scatter them as unclean things. You will say to them, ‘Be Gone!’”
Meditate on this word.
See if God is trying to expose an area in your life you have not surrendered fully to Him that is keeping you from walking in the freedom He has for you.