Text: Isaiah 30:1-33, Jeremiah 31:31-34, Romans 8:14
Driving at night in Colorado can be a hazardous adventure. Deer, antelope, and even mountain lions have been known to scurry onto the road at the most inconvenient times. You know that terrifying moment when you lock eyes with the poor creature over your steering wheel and just pray they will move? If only the animal would keep moving forward—then they’d be safe. But it seems that nine times out of ten, they have the worst instincts and either freeze or run back into traffic.
Sometime we have a similar response to danger.
It’s easy to become immobilized by fear or anxiety in the midst of a big decision or overwhelming circumstances. The stress of a crisis can send us to running back to old, unhealthy habits and vices. In those moments of panic, I can all too easily forget that my God is bigger than all the worries of this world—that I can trust Him to lead me.
The prophet Isaiah rebuked the people of Judah for turning to their own devices of self-saving. In Isaiah’s time, God’s people in Judah were terrified of Assyrian armies amassing on their border. They sensed a very imminent danger. Instead of trusting in God and seeking His power and plan, Judah turned back to Egypt for safety in an alliance.
Let’s pause here, just for moment…
They turned back to the very Egypt that had previously enslaved them?
These descendants of Abraham and David had inherited great promises and seen great wonders of the Lord’s blessing and salvation. Yet in crisis they turned to what they could see and remember, rather than seeking God’s merciful path forward.
Why is it so easy to look for help everywhere but the feet of Jesus? Perhaps because we are prone to self-focus. Theologians such as St. Augustine of Hippo, Martin Luther, and Karl Barth all described our sin nature as incurvatus in se; Latin for “curved inward on oneself.” Because we are imperfect people, we tend to focus inward instead of outward, if we’re not relying on the Spirit to lead us.
When Judah trembled with fear at a crossroads, the people turned inward and backward instead of upward and forward. They turned inward by serving pagan gods of the culture around them and turned backward toward the familiar power of Egypt. But their faithful God longed for them to turn upward toward His mercy, and forward on the path He made for them.
When we are fearful about the circumstances in our lives, it’s easy to turn toward our generations’ idols of success and security, or backward to old habits of self-reliance like control, apathy, or anxiety. But the Lord longs to bring our focus upward and forward just as He did with Judah.
It’s convicting to think of the ways we fall short, but there is good news: we love a God of incomprehensible mercy. He relentlessly called—and calls—His people back to Him. The Holy Spirit guides us in the way to go: the way of Jesus, our Savior.
Kaitie Stoddard is a professional counselor who recently relocated from Chicago to Colorado with her husband. She has her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology and is passionate about helping couples and families find healing in their relationships. On any given weekend you’re likely to find Katie snowboarding in the Rocky Mountains, checking out new restaurants with friends, or catching up on her favorite Netflix and podcast series.