I have walked by the light of my own fires for too long.
This explains why I’ve repeatedly fallen on my face.
I’ve struggled with trusting God rather than trusting Bethany most of my life. I’ve tried understanding my own struggle. Perhaps I just don’t have an innate ability to trust God, like “doubting Thomas” who needs to see the scars to believe. Maybe the tragedies and sadness in life have blinded me to the merit of choosing to follow Someone Who Knows the Way. I can speculate and analyze myself to death, but at the crucial juxtaposition of two roads in the woods, I’ve often chosen the one that seemed best at the time rather than the one with the Guide.
Recently, while reading up on the topic of trust, I came across Isaiah 50. I’ve read Isaiah many times; in fact, it’s one of my favorite books of the Bible. Somehow verses 10-11 never penetrated the seemingly impenetrable wall between my sight and my soul. When I reread the verses today, after being drawn to them repeatedly over the past few days, the words welded a hole in that wall, and they stuck to me.
“Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the word of his servant?
Let him who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on his God.
But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set
This is what you shall receive
from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.” –Isaiah 50:10-11
While reading these lines this morning, Plato’s Allegory of the Cave flashed before my eyes. I envisioned myself as a cave dweller, chained and unable to turn around, with only shadows of real light to reflect on. In Plato’s Allegory, the true philosopher is the person who is freed from the cave, unchained, and able to recognize true light from shadow. The freed philosopher then works to free the other prisoners by enlightening them.
Why have I relied on my own fires for so long? Why have I stared at shadows with the Light at my back? Why have I not embraced freedom?
I think the key is in verse 10. “Who among you fears the Lord?” In this context, “fears” does not refer to shaking, trembling, and cowering before God. It’s a term used to describe “true religion,” as termed in my Bible’s commentary, or real reverence to God. It’s used in Proverbs 1:7 to explain the foundation of knowledge. If real recognition–and reverence–of God is the beginning of knowledge, and if real reverence of God is required to trust in and rely upon the Lord for Light and guidance, then there’s my missing link. I have not really believed God is Who He Is, at least not consistently. Instead, I’ve believed what I could see–that the world is a dark, lonely, and cruel place. And to let my guard down is to make myself prey to it. If I can’t see Who He Is, or if I’m blinded to the truth of Who He Is by the realities of the world around me, then how can I follow Him through the darkness? I just can’t. Instead, I’ve relied on my own itty bitty ability to rub two sticks together in a feeble attempt to keep myself warm for a little while.
I’ve been freezing to death for years.
All this time, He’s been standing outside the cave, shining the Light at my back, waiting for its warmth to turn my head away from the shadows to see what’s real.
“Arise, shine, for your light
And the glory of the Lord rises
upon you.” –Isaiah 60:1
Thank God I don’t have to keep rubbing those sticks together.