In Eat this Book, Eugene Peterson teaches us to chew on a passage of scripture, digest it, and put it to use in practical ways. Our Christian fathers and mothers called this process Lectio Divina. In this verse, we see the benefits of living in a posture of surrender and allowing God to be our guide.
ISAIAH 42: 16 (MSG) – STAYING OUT OF THE DITCH
“I’ll take the hand of those who don’t know the way,
who can’t see where they’re going.
I’ll be a personal guide to them,
directing them through unknown country
I’ll be right there to show them what roads to take,
make sure they don’t fall into the ditch.
These are the things I’ll be doing for them—
sticking with them, not leaving them for a minute.”
Imagine driving in a blinding blizzard or a hurricane-force thunderstorm. You can’t see ahead or behind or sideways. You can’t hear anything but ferocious winds. You don’t know where the road is. Your memory tells you that there are ditches on both sides. You are worried that you might drive into a snow bank or unexpected high water. Even though you have traveled this road before it feels like unknown territory. You are terrified. You are hoping beyond hope that someone will come to direct you through this unknown country.
The writer of this Scripture passage knows the God who saved his people from their enemies despite their repeated waywardness. He knows the God who gave them all the commandments they needed for emotional and spiritual health, but realized that they had broken every one of them. He knows the God who suffered as his people chose the wrong roads in the furies of life. Most of all he knows that his God is the One who will stick with his people and not leave them for a moment, no matter how far off track they had gone. He wants us to know that when we are hoping beyond hope, God has already been/is here /will be ready to direct you.
What difference would it make in our lives if we could just trust in a God who loves us that much, who is waiting for us to take his proffered hand and walk with him, instead of into the ditch?
♥ Memorize Matt. 6: 34, Jesus antidote to worry and anxiety – something you will find heaps of when you are in unknown territory. Each morning remind yourself that if you respond to life based only on your own experience or wisdom, you will be in trouble. Say this verse every evening. When you wake up in the morning, make a conscious decision to remember that God will not leave you for a minute. Lean on God’s promise to be your guide.
♥ Our world does not believe the words of Isaiah or Matthew. It does not recognize a God who will be our shepherd even “through the valley of the shadow of death.” (Psalm 23). Our world says that we are safe if we are on top. It teaches that if someone attempts to topple us from our position, we need to hit them back harder. Even some people who call themselves Christians rely on the world’s “wisdom” that we will be safer if we can wall out those who are different, that security lies being first, being right, being more powerful.
When you hear language like this, Isaiah would like you to remember that no one is more powerful than God. No one can get us through the unknown country except God. And perhaps we can be Isaiah’s voice (and God’s) to someone whose fears and terror have blinded them into believing that power will save them.
“We need to trust God as the creator and sustainer of all of life. We need to embrace the mission that God has given us . . . . We need to dwell in the confidence that the kingdom is reaching from the future into the present world and that God promises to bless those who are indwelling that kingdom. This is not to say that each of us will always have all that we want or even what we need; rather, we must see Jesus’ teachings as they were meant to be seen: assuming the reality and availability of provisions, Jesus calls us to strike out and trust God for what we need . . .
A careful reading of our text in the context of Jesus’ own radical itinerant ministry prompts us to think that our full pantries and refrigerators are playing a different game than the one Jesus and his followers played. These are words for radicals about a radical lifestyle of trusting God for the ordinaries of life while devoting oneself unreservedly toward the kingdom mission” (Scot McKnight in Sermon on the Mount Commentary, a volume in The Story of God Bible Commentary series).