Just How Willing...?
If you are willing and obedient, you shall eat the good of the land; but if you refuse and rebel, you shall be eaten by the sword; for the mouth of the Lord has spoken. Isaiah 1:18-19
Scripture brims with magnificent promises, faith-filled heroes, miracles, signs and wonders; also flameouts, failures, those who started well but ended badly. Among the lowlights of Scripture are four terrible words in Isaiah 30: "but you were unwilling."
The sordid story: in a military/economic crisis, Judah turned away from relying on God, and looked to the nation of Egypt for help and succor. God responded with challenges, warnings, and promises. He said their salvation and strength would come from returning, rest, quietness and trust (v 15). Then those words: but you were unwilling. One can almost see God sighing in grief over his people's flailing about, looking in all the wrong places. Then it gets worse (vs 16): and you said, “No! We will flee upon horses”; therefore you shall flee away; and, “We will ride upon swift steeds”; therefore your pursuers shall be swift. Go figure; it's never a good idea to say no to God, duh. Consequences of using our own resources? Bad becomes worse.
But wait, it gets even worse in verse 17: A thousand shall flee at the threat of one;
at the threat of five you shall flee, till you are left like a flagstaff on the top of a mountain, like a signal on a hill. Ouch! The picture painted is a monument displayed for all to see, "Here's what happens to those who are unwilling..." God told his people in so many words, "I know what I'm doing, I've got your future in my hands--but your cooperation, your obedience, your willingness to walk with me-- is a crucial factor. Look to me and say, "yes, Lord."
The adventure of following Jesus includes fearful days, terrible prospects, opportunities to turn tail and run. We're consistently asked by God, our enemy, and circumstances, "are you willing still?" He is sovereign, can do whatever He chooses...and He chooses to work in partnership with willing sons and daughters. Thus the adventure (someone could die).
Asaph the psalmist nailed it, recording God's anguish in Psalm 81: I am the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. Open your mouth wide, and I will fill it. “But my people did not listen to my voice; Israel would not submit to me. So I gave them over to their stubborn hearts, to follow their own counsels. Oh, that my people would listen to me, that Israel would walk in my ways! I would soon subdue their enemies and turn my hand against their foes. Those who hate the Lord would cringe toward him, and their fate would last forever. But he would feed you with the finest of the wheat, and with honey from the rock I would satisfy you.”
I tend to learn the most important lessons over and over. Giving my will to God, saying a constant, "yes, Lord" is a tough assignment. But that's where the good life is found, no matter what others, even my own heart, says. Flagstaff on a hill, or eating the finest from the land. Hear me Lord, I am willing. How bout you?
Getting off my horse, trusting the One, Perry Floyd