This morning in my devotional time I was treated, courtesy of one of my iTunes playlists, to the song “I Love Your Presence” by Jenn Johnson/Bethel. The words called to mind a favorite Psalm: “You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore” (Psalm 16:11, NKJV).
This passage mentions place—the presence of the Lord—and a path. The way to get there.
I followed a cross-reference to Isaiah 30:15–18, which reads: “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. 16 You said, ‘No, we will flee on horses.’ Therefore you will flee! You said, ‘We will ride off on swift horses.’ Therefore your pursuers will be swift! 17 A thousand will flee at the threat of one; at the threat of five you will all flee away, till you are left like a flagstaff on a mountaintop, like a banner on a hill.” 18 Yet the LORD longs to be gracious to you; he rises to show you compassion. For the LORD is a God of justice. Blessed are all who wait for him!”
God’s plan for me is that I might be spared humiliation and defeat at the hands of my enemies, through a heart of repentance and willingness to trust in the Lord. But like the Israelites of old, I am often unwilling to repent, and when the chips are down, I often fail to keep my trust, my real confidence, in the Sovereign Lord (Adonai Yahweh). No, I most often would pick a speedy horse—which I think might equate to any contrivance, method or well-considered plan (or sometimes a hasty one)—to carry me away to some far-off hill or better yet, a good resort, with plenty of comfort and distractions aplenty. God was saying that whenever the Israelites decided to go that route, defeat would be frightening and fast. And now, can we not see that somehow it applies to each of us as well? No plan of mine, no idea or clever invention, can ever have success. In fact, those will only leave me tired and wrung-out, the kind of tired that makes people look at you and say things like “Are you okay? Dude. You should go find a couch and get some sleep.” But ultimately, for the person who chooses to avoid repentance, who elects to run instead of trust the Lord, no amount of sleep will help.
For the runner, the person who would create his own deliverance by fleeing, or scheming or planning, the only possible end is defeat. The “mountain tops and hills” are littered with the spiritual remains of those who thought their “horses” were fast; who, when they got to wherever they were going, made sure they got plenty of “rest;” who sooner or later watched in panic as their enemy swarmed around them; who had great intentions, but because they failed to do the simple things that matter, wound up defeated.
There is one path that leads to rest and victory. We find it in the presence of the Lord, the moment we begin to live in an attitude of constant repentance, trusting him completely. “Adonai Yahweh” is always looking to “strongly support those whose heart is completely his” (2 Chron. 16:9).
So: Let’s skip the horses and avoid becoming another statistic on the highways and mountains of life. Let’s take the right path instead, asking the Lord for a heart that repents easily, and trusts him always. Every day. No matter what.
Blessed are all who wait for him.