God’s Way, Not Ours
Blessed Lord, in You is wholeness. May Your Word work in me today to make me more like You.
Read Isaiah 3:13-4:1
Scripture taken from the Holy Bible, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society. All rights reserved throughout the world. Used by permission of International Bible Society.
“Trust God from the bottom of your heart; don’t try to figure out everything on your own (Prov. 3:5, The Message). These words have been wisdom to many.
When I read these verses from Isaiah in modern English to the students’ daily chapel in Kenya, there was much laughter. They got the joke. “Zion women are stuck-up, prancing around in their high heels, making eyes at all the men in the street, swinging their hips, tossing their hair, gaudy and garish in cheap jewelry” (16, The Message). Instead, God says, they will be bald, smelling like rotting cabbages, scabby and scarred, fighting off the other women to get a man (24)! As for the men, they just fall helplessly in battle (25).
Being unmarried and childless (or dying before you leave descendants) is still probably regarded as the most severe punishment in many parts of the world. My African students told me of past remedies for this in their own families–early marriage, multiple wives, large families, discarding women who did not conceive. They heard many echoes in the Old Testament stories of Abraham and Sarah, Jacob and Leah and Rachel, for example. Having known unplanned childlessness for some years myself, I understand the sense of failure and powerlessness that it brings, even when it is not punishment but the consequences of a less than ideal world.
Nevertheless, taking things into our own hands doesn’t work in the long run. No matter how hard we try to present ourselves, or reproduce ourselves, our efforts look feeble to onlookers, even to ourselves, and certainly to God. The answer, as we shall see tomorrow, is not dressing for success, a supreme effort in self-improvement or sexual prowess, but in an inner beauty and strength, a holiness made possible only by God’s purifying fire. That applies to men as well as women (1 Pet. 3:3,4).
Beauty, children, and marriage companionship are good gifts. Thank God for what you have. Bring to him the pain of what you do not have, and seek his compassionate response.
Father, sometimes I feel I am self-made, and I’m not above worshiping my creator! Show me the vanity of so much of my life and help me trust You more.
Click here to sign up to receive the EXTRAs via email each quarter.
© 2023 Scripture Union U.S.A. All rights reserved. Reproduction of the whole or any part of the contents without written permission is prohibited.
Encounter with God is published in the USA under license from Scripture Union England and Wales, Trinity House, Opal Court, Opal Drive, Fox Milne, Milton Keynes, MK15 0DF.