Jackhammer

Isa. 7:9(b) “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

Observation: Ahaz was king of Judah at a time when Jerusalem was under severe attack, such that “…the hearts of Ahaz and his people were shaken” (v. 2(b)). So the Lord sent Isaiah to warn the king to “Be careful, keep calm, don’t be afraid, do not lose heart” (v.4). The Lord further acknowledged what they were up against by telling Ahaz that opposing kings are plotting his ruin, but “this is what I say: it’ll never happen!” All these opponents, God said, will soon be in ruin themselves. Then comes the admonition: “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

Application: The first thing to notice in the story is how willing God is to meet His beloved in our shaky moments. He comes to Ahaz when his world seems to be crumbling. Under attack on all fronts, Ahaz had grown faint-hearted and fearful, so God sent encouragement through the prophet Isaiah. Isaiah assures Ahaz of his enemies’ destruction and points him toward rescue by saying, “If you do not stand firm in your faith, you will not stand at all.”

How is that to be done? How exactly can I stand firm while my heart is shaking? Ahaz is like a man operating a jackhammer. The constant rat-a-tat tat of the hammer on concrete reverberates throughout the street, breaking the peace of all within earshot, while the vibrations of the machine possess every fiber of the one wielding it. Until the disturbance stops there can be no relief. Yet God says to stand firm. How do I do that?

Here is where I can so easily miss God’s guidance and protection. It is easy to think He is encouraging me to stand firm in “my” faith, but the problem is, my faith might be built on all sorts of shibboleths…widely held beliefs that can miss God’s standards by a mile. Dorothy might have been able to squeeze her eyes tightly and click her heels to wish herself back to Kansas, but if my faith differs from His teaching, His clear principles, then the foundation crumbles and all is lost. I can never find my way back home by depending upon my faith. There are culturally accepted norms today that will lead me far from His design, and these norms impact every area of life: money, work ethic, sexuality, forgiveness, even the treasuring of life itself.

So the firm foundation He calls me to is not my own firmly held beliefs, but His. It falls to me to discern the difference…to drill down deep into His heart, His Word, to so immerse myself in Him that He and I become as indistinguishable as dye on a cloth. Or is it the the cloth that is in the dye? Only when I am thus immersed can I then be sure that the faith I stand on is a firm faith, one that is able to steady me in life’s shakiest moments. Until then the jackhammer pounds away, and I am hopelessly separated from His peace.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, thank You for Your promise to deliver me through life’s toughest trials. Thank You for steadying my quivering heart, for calming my fears, and for leading me into a place of peace…into You…as storms rage around me. In Your Name, Amen.

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