Who's Lighting the Fire?
We are having some friends over for a campfire tonight. Al will light the fire. He typically uses a little gasoline to help things along. Last time he singed a few hairs right off his arm...too much help!
Sometimes Scripture surprises me by flipping a phrase on its ear. We are all familiar with the phrase, "running around putting out fires." Relationships gone awry, projects more complicated that we expected, multiple generations needing our attention, jobs, so many needs, so much uncertainty! Angst can overwhelm!
Angst: a feeling of deep anxiety or dread, typically an unfocused one about the human condition or the state of the world in general. (Oxford Dictionary)
So when I read Isaiah 50 this week it caused me to take a deeper look. Verses 10-11 read:
Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him/her who walks in dark, who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.
But now, all you who light fires and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, and walk in the light of your fires and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.
Not only does God say, "Stop running around and trying to put out fires all the time." God also says, "Trust me! and stop trying to light your own fires, make your own light, your own way, your own solutions." God promises to walk with us through the darkness and bring the light in his way and time. Don't dig yourself a deeper hole! Trust God! As our Haitian friends continually remind us, "God knows!" Trust God!
A friend of mine who was stressing out about her financial future, walked into church one morning and literally got a message from God on the overhead screen which read, "TRUST ME WITH YOUR FUTURE!" Every time she starts to fear she returns to this message.
But it is so hard for us!! We are so sure we need to worry, fix things, be "responsible"! It is amazing to me how often people try to justify worrying by equating it with caring. How do we trust when we don't see the light? There is a lot of both/and in living this out. A life with God often sounds paradoxical (Seemingly absurd, self-contradictory). I need to care without thinking I need to be the answer, or at least figure out the answer.
It is pretty encouraging to do a Scripture study of the phrases Don't worry and Do not be afraid! God KNOWS we are prone to worrying. God wants to save us from ourselves.
So the next time you find yourself swimming in angst I encourage you to check yourself, as I will be checking myself, and repeat a mantra that helps you turn to trusting the name of the Lord and relying on your God. It might be repeating that verse, or even just saying the name of Jesus, or praying the prayer, "Lord, Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy upon me."
What helps you? I'd love to hear the spiritual disciplines you use.