STRONG AND SILENT
While I do not celebrate the New Year, I typically use this as time to start a new daily devotional book and a new prayer journal. And, for the last couple of years, I have selected one particular thing to work on for the coming year.
This past year, it was my mouth (recall my blog about this time last year, titled “The Year of the Rooster.”). The year before it was pride. I asked God to guide and grow me in these areas and He did. It was both tough and personally revealing to focus on a characteristic or behavior that I wanted to improve upon. I would not say I am done working on either one. However, it is time to pick the 2018 focus.
I got my new devotional and journal about a month ago and have had the hardest time not cracking them open early. It was so tempting to have them right there, smelling crisp and new. However, what to choose as my one thing to focus on for the year ahead eluded me until this morning, when I finally got to crack open my new devotional and read the following:
Isaiah 30:15 [NIV] 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. [Emphasis mine]
Quietness and trust? As a strength? Does that make any sense to you?
It reminds me of the Kevin Hart character in the latest Jumanji film. Hart, as Jumanji game piece Moose Finbar, is looking at his character’s list of strengths and weaknesses. On the list of “weaknesses” is strength. Finbar is incredulous that “strength” is listed as his weakness.
I felt the same way, reading God’s words to His people - that their strength would be in “quietness and trust.” It makes no sense, from a human standpoint. But this prescription to be quiet, which can mean to be at peace, rest, or be still, isn’t unique to Isaiah 30:15.
Psalm 46:10 tells us: "Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!" [ESV]
It seems to me that this verse is saying that to be still and to wait for the Lord to act in His own time, allows God to be exalted. It makes sense that not acting on an issue, when everything in me is screaming to take control, would give a place for God’s glory to be known as He acts on our behalf. And, of course, there are some things that only God can fix – like a broken character, a hurting heart or a sinful soul.
For me, there have been several moments in 2017 when all I could do is cry out to God and ask, “Why, Lord?” because my strength was spent and my efforts to no avail and my prayers seemingly unanswered. Many times there were additional questions, like: “What are you doing with this?” “Where are You in this situation?” “Why haven’t you intervened, despite our passionate cries?”
In video games, like the one depicted in Jumanji, while each character comes with a set of strengths and weaknesses, the players can gain powers, can work together toward a common goal, can earn badges, find new weapons, heal wounds and move to the next level as they seek to complete the challenge and win the game.
This Christian life is no game, but we win at it in similar ways – by moving to the next level of spiritual growth day-by-day and year-by-year. We complete the challenge by gaining power over our human flaws, faults and sins, working together with fellow Christians toward a common goal, and focusing on the ultimate prize.
Quietness and trust are not my spiritual “super powers.” I am not the strong and silent type. In fact, I said, “weak and vocal” is more like it. And, so, on the first day of 2018, I found my one thing to focus on for the year ahead: developing the strength that is inherent within quietness and trust – beginning with trusting God to unlock this next level of growth as, in the coming year, I continue to strive toward the ultimate prize of eternal life.
If you have had any “Why Lord?” moments this year, or if you are dedicating 2018 to a particular item of spiritual growth, please share those with me.
I welcome your thoughts, comments and questions. You can write me at Nancy@DynamicChristianMinistries.org.