Sunday, September 14, 2014

Isaiah 41:10-11 -- On Playing for God's Team

"Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.
Behold, all they that were incensed against thee shall be ashamed and confounded: they shall be as nothing; and they that strive with thee shall perish."
Isaiah 41:10-11

I like scriptures that remind us not to fear.  Life can be pretty scary sometimes, and having God around is sometimes the only thing that can help.  I like the idea that God will support us, and that we don't need to fear anyone, because God can take care of it.
These verses have another side though.  God is upholding and strengthening one side, and confounding the other side... making them ashamed, and even allowing them to die.  It doesn't seem that he is upholding or strengthening that side at all.  We're all God's children... why would he support some of us against the others?  Why would he strengthen us, but allow others to die?
I think the answer is that we get the whole idea of sides mixed up.  God wants to strengthen us, and he loves us and wants us to be happy... but the truth is that he is never on *our* side.  It is a nice idea, but it can confuse us to think that way.  We are on *his* side... or not.  And when we are on his side, that is when he supports us.  And when we are not on his side, that is when we can be confounded.  Not because God doesn't love us, but because we screwed up and are working against him.
God never abandons us... he's always there.  But it is kind of like a coach, sending us all into a game.  He can't help us a lot if we are working to score points for the other team.  He can only tell us to turn around, to recognize the people who are trying to help us, and the people working against us.  It's when we're wide awake and have figured out what team we are on that he can help us more: strengthen us with encouragement, allow us to rest for a bit when we are overtired, and help us figure out a strategy to come out triumphant.  ... Of course the analogy is limited, but the idea of sides matches reality a little bit.  Too often in life we pick out people (or companies, or countries, or whatever) to like, and we admire them and trust them no matter what, and so when they ask us to play for the wrong team, we're like, okay!  I'm in!  God isn't like that.  Because that is the way *we* often play the game, we wonder why he has abandoned us.  But he never has.  He just won't support us if we go to the dark side.  He is asking and waiting and hoping that we will come back so that he can heal us and strengthen us and support us in coming back to the light, but he can't agree with us and help us destroy our lives just because we are friends.  ... His friendship doesn't work like that, and really, no friendship should.  He will support the team always... but we run the risk of being confounded if we choose to be on the other side.  He isn't out to get us or harm us... he just wants us to come back.  Today, let's take a look at what team we are playing for.  If it isn't God's, them let's take a step back and be really sure we're where we want to be.  If we'd rather play for God, he will definitely take us back... but we have to make the choice, take that step, and ask for help.  If we do, he will strengthen us, help us, and uphold us.

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