Weekly Devotional: True Strength (6 in Sabbath and Rest series)

Female mallard duck resting. Photo: Alain Carpentier.

“In repentance and rest is your salvation, in quietness and trust is your strength.” Isaiah 30:1–18 (NIV)

In the passage from Isaiah that we’re looking at this week, the Israelites, rather than seeking the protection and help of God, the Creator, look to the created as they seek help from the Egyptians. But the prophet Isaiah speaks God’s word to them, naming this travesty. Whereas the shade of the Lord would provide relief from the burning Middle-Eastern sun, the Egyptians’ shade will be fleeting.

I love the imagery in verses 13–14, how Isaiah tells them that the consequences of their sin will be as a shattering collapse, like a leaning wall whose center of gravity shifts in a moment and comes crashing down, leaving dust. This will be all that remains if they do not turn back to the Lord. For as they repent and rest, they will find salvation. Turning to him in quietness and trust, they will gain strength.

Several decades ago, I chose this verse as my special verse of the year. I was prone to overworking and overdoing, relying on my own strength, not on God, and not making time to rest in him. I needed the regular reminder of the Isaiah’s words that as I turned from my self-sufficient ways and trusted in the Lord, I would find the way forward. That as I quelled my need for activity, with the underlying drive that I could make a difference if I achieved, I would find strength that was not rooted in self, but in God.

These many years later, I can see how God has changed me, although the propensity to take on too much is one I’m currently struggling with as I finish off my MA studies. I certainly don’t always exist in a perfect state of rest, but God’s peace defines me more than the restless activity of the past, when I couldn’t listen to a sermon without jostling my foot back and forth throughout.

Repentance, rest, quietness and trust. Let’s embrace them today.

Reflection: Why not write out this verse and carry it around this week, meditating on it when you are feeling stressed or when you wait for the kettle to boil?

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