Do you ever play the ‘what would I save in a fire’ game?
It’s closely related to the ‘what would I want with me on a desert island’ game.
If disaster was all around me, if I had to rely on what I could carry, what would I bring? Is there room for sentimentality or just practicality? (I’m going under the assumption here that you don’t need to carry your spouse or your children. Just stuff, no people. Does that help?)
Books? Jewelry? Equipment?
Letters? Love notes? Baby handprints?
What would you need to get you through a time when everything around you seems to be crashing and burning.
I think of this mainly between 2-5am when sleep alludes me. I wonder, ‘what do I really need and what could I do without?’ And I come to some conclusions and scenarios and generally work myself into a plan that hopefully never have to see come to fruition.
But what about when things spiritually start crashing and burning around us? What’s our plan? What will we rely on, what will we save, where will we go?
What will you do on the day of reckoning,
when disaster comes from afar?
To whom will you run for help?
Where will you leave your riches?
4 Nothing will remain but to cringe among the captives
or fall among the slain. Isaiah 10:3-4
God’s been leading me to read through the book of Isaiah. It’s probably my favourite book in the entire Bible. (Yes, I’m allowed to have a favourite. Lightning hasn’t struck me yet.) But even I can’t admit that the first part of Isaiah is totally encouraging.
I imagine myself in the position of the Israelites. Knowing that disaster is coming, seeing the armies in the distance, making escape plans, bargains, bribes and safeguards.
In the midst of the turmoil and fear, God asks the people ‘where will you go? What can you possibly bring that you think will be of any use to you.’
I’m like that in a crisis. My knee jerk reaction is to plan and scheme and gather resources around me to get me through. But the voice of God asks me ‘why these things? What do you think they will do for you that I can’t?’
The Israelites turned to stuff and powerful people and last resources but didn’t turn to the one thing that could help them.
They left God out of the equation.
Just like sometimes I leave God out of the equation.
What they missed in the thread of what God spoke through Isaiah is hope. They saw nothing but advancing armies and missed the word of God saying ‘you will have to live through this, but I will bring you through’.
In that day the remnant of Israel,
the survivors of Jacob,
will no longer rely on him
who struck them down
but will truly rely on the Lord,
the Holy One of Israel.
A remnant will return, a remnant of Jacob
will return to the Mighty God. Isaiah 10:21-22
In the midst of the turmoil of advancing armies, there is the promise of return.
In the midst of the turmoil of our sickness, our brokenness, our tarnished relationships, there is the promise of hope to those who rely on the Lord.
The Holy One of Israel looks at us and asks “what do you think you need that’s more important than the one who is going to bring you through?”.
As my mind is churning in the middle of my struggles, I need Him. I need to cling so tightly that there’s no room in my arms for anything else.
I’m not the one who’s going to do the saving. I’m going to be the saved.