Let God love us

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Like a week ago, I was on the bus, and there were not many people on the bus. The weather was very nice, everyone seemed relaxed and content enjoying the view outside including this person who was on the wheelchair looking a bit emaciated.

At one bus stop among a small crowd came on board a guy clearly in a real jolly mood. He sat down in front of the person in a wheelchair, and cheerfully said hi. I almost thought he knew the person since there was no sign of hesitation whatsoever in how he greeted him.

But it became clear when the person expressed his confusion, “I don’t think I know you.” The happy guy said, “Oh no, you probably don’t,” and then tried to continue what he so confidently thought would be a pleasant small talk on the bus in a beautiful sunny day.

However, the conversation didn’t go as he expected. He tried asking about his health, specifically about the person’s back since he looked pretty stiff, but the person didn’t take it well. Then the happy guy turned it into a joke, trying to lighten the mood, but now the person really took offense. Finally, the person said in a voice that implied some period of extended time of anger and bitterness, “I don’t trust you because I don’t think you’re genuine. The joke’s not on me, it’s on you.”

That was it, no more conversation. The bus became dead silent. Then everyone including myself in the bus went back into the blindfold mode that is particularly characteristic of the Canadian culture, hypnotizing and telling ourselves, “I don’t know what just happened. Better not make any scene. Just pretend nothing happened.”

Cultural stereotyping aside, what I realized from that incident was that you can’t help a person if he/she doesn’t trust you. No matter how much you want to help others, if their hearts are not open to receive help, you can’t really give it. Obviously, the same goes the other way around. You can’t receive anything if you don’t trust those who have what you need.

Then, I thought about my life. In my whole life, there is not much I can do purely by myself without any help whatsoever from others. I have a bad tendency to try to solve all my problems in life solely within my abilities and none of others. It’s my pride and ego isolating myself and keeping me in the dark and helpless. But if I think about it, indeed there is so very little that I can achieve just by my own might.

The whole earth is maintained by something. Yes, there is brokenness and evil and chaos in this world it seems, but by and large the universe is being orchestrated by order and love. It is God. He maintains it. He is in control. He will eventually make everything restored and right too.

And God is reaching out to me today. And to you. He says hello this morning again. He hops on the “bus” of our life and greets us with the most beautiful smile hoping to have a pleasant conversation. And he is not even a stranger. He created us, he is our father, he died for us out of his love, he promises total acceptance, if only we trust him.

But we must trust him. He cannot make us do that. He is gentle and personal, not authoritarian nor abstract. He has already done everything we could ask for. True love and acceptance, significance and security, intimacy and protection. Now we must open our hearts to receive it.

God is waiting for us. He has so much wonderful stuff stored for us. Not just big things like dream and career and etc., but also small details in our lives too, to make our everyday full of joy and love and happiness and thankfulness. We might as well stop trying to control everything ourselves, and lay our lives to him who is truly in control.

Then we’ll know freedom. Let us let God love us.

Isaiah 7-8

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“When the house of David was told, “Syria is in league with Ephraim,” the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind.”  (Isa. 7:2)

Ahaz was terrified. But God tells him not to fear.

“Be careful, be quiet, do not fear, and do not let your heart be faint because of these two smoldering stumps of firebrands, at the fierce anger of Rezin and Syria and the son of Ramaliah.” (Isa. 7:4)

“It shall not stand, and it shall not come to pass. For the head of Syria is Damascus, and the head of Damascus is Rezin. And within sixty-five years Ephraim will be shattered from being a people. And the head of Ephraim is Samaria, and the head of Samaria is the son of Remaliah. If you are not firm in faith, you will not be firm at all.” (Isa. 7:7-9)

They will not stand. They are mere humans. God decides the course of human history, the destiny of kingdoms. God says, “do not fear,” and “be firm.” He says, “trust in me, and ask me for a sign from me to strengthen your faith” (from Isa. 7:11), but Ahaz makes a lame excuse saying “I will not put the Lord to the test” (Isa. 7:12), and goes to Assyria for help instead. He schemes to have Assyria attack Israel and save him, but he ends up setting a snare for himself.

Because of Ahaz’s unbelief, God will let Assyria destroy Judah, there will be not many people left on the land (Isa. 7:21-22), and every place that used to be fruitful will become briers and thorns. Ahaz rejected God and relied on human power, and that very human power ensnared Judah. (Isa. 8:6-8)

But God will give Judah a sign,

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.” (Isa. 7:14)

Isaiah urges the people to fear God and wait for the LORD. “But the LORD of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread. And he will become a sanctuary and a stone of offense and a rock of stumbling to both houses of Israel, a trap and a snare to the inhabitants of Jerusalem” (Isa. 8:13-14).

“I will wait for the LORD, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him.” (Isa. 8:17)

The people in their spiritual blindness and darkness will be greatly distressed, hungry, and enraged (Isa. 8:21), they will indeed stumble and fall and be broken, be snared and taken. (Isa. 8:15)

What this piece of the history of Israel teaches is that humans fall because we rely on others rather than on God. Only God’s promise is reliable and makes us truly firm. The Immanuel has come. The sign has been given. We have all failed to look to God in faith and ask Him for a sign, but God gave us the sign anyway because he loves us too much not to.

One thing I notice is that it is repeatedly said that this good news will be “a stone of offense” to some people. There are, and will be always people who deny and reject the good news of salvation in Jesus Christ when they hear the gospel. “For the word of the cross is folly to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.” (1 Cor. 1:18)

We should trust in God in all situations no matter how terrifying it may seem. Using all the human resources and information is wise because they are after all God’s creation, but we shouldn’t put our deepest trust on any of them ultimately. Our sense of security comes from the promise of eternal life in Jesus Christ. On that secure basis, we do everything else in wisdom and love for the glory of God. Otherwise we become desperate and miserable.

Be careful, be quiet, do not fear. Trust in Jesus, wait for the Lord.