Over the next couple of weeks, I will have the privilege of sharing what God is speaking to me through His Word as my aunt, Pastor Sharon, continues her post-surgery healing. She is grateful for the tremendous outpouring of prayer from our church family and I would ask that you continue to pray for miraculous and speedy recovery! Isaiah 48:17-19
17 This is what the Lord says— your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. 18 If only you had paid attention to my commands, your peace would have been like a river, your well-being like the waves of the sea. 19 Your descendants would have been like the sand, your children like its numberless grains; their name would never be blotted out nor destroyed from before me.”
Verse 18 is such a haunting verse because it contains one of the most terrifying two word combinations in the English language – “If Only”. Now, I’m not one for regrets (because it means I’m looking backwards and that’s not where I’m going!), but the message of this passage is clear – there is a right way to live and a wrong way to live, and how we ought to is clearly outlined in God’s Holy Word.
“If only you had paid attention to my commands…” These aren’t the words of an angry or capricious God. This isn’t a condescending Lord telling us “I told you so”, wagging his finger in our face as he rolls his eyes. This is a broken hearted Father telling his much beloved child that there was a better way. That they could’ve been spared so much heartache, granted so much more peace and lived life abundantly “if only”.
As a parent, I feel like I “get it” even more. In shepherding and training up my children, I am trying to lead them and point them in a direction that will keep them from harm and best promote their physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well being. I’m trying to frame their lives in a Biblical world view, embracing that His ways are higher than ours.
All too often, we are the ones heaping struggle, pain and turmoil into our ives. I can just picture our Heavenly Father, heart heavy, sadly saying “If Only”. He wants to bring peace. He wants to bring joy. He wants to bring wholeness and healing, but all too often we are the ones setting up obstacles that keep us in basking in what God has for us.
So the question that I have for you today is, in what areas of your life are you robbing yourself? Taking a painfully honest inventory, in what areas have you strayed from the commands that are so clearly defined in the Bible? God isn’t trying to make things complicated, he just wants obedience, knowing that in our obedience, we will find fullness of joy and his caring hand of protection.