As I read from Isaiah 26:4 this morning I was reminded of the time many years ago of a vacation that my wife and I had taken before our kids came into the picture. If I remember correctly, it was the second or third trip that we had made to what was on the way to becoming our favorite camping destination. Since we were relatively new to the area, we were not aware of the unpredictable weather patterns common to the high Sierra Nevada Mountains of north eastern California.
We had one gorgeous day and then the clouds blew in, bringing with them sheets of rain and a bit of thunder and lightning. By the third day we were beginning to get on each other’s nerves! We were not prepared for the rain and did not pack the proper wet weather clothing or even an umbrella! We spent a lot of time cooped up in my parent’s old green canvas tent that we had borrowed from them! Needless to say, when the front moved out and the sun finally peeked through we were ecstatic!
There is a rocky area near the entrance to the camp grounds of Plumas Eureka State Park that sits in an open area, clear from the thick canopy of trees that adorn the 67 campsites. When the rain stopped, we made our way out of the trees, sat on a big dry rock in that clearing, soaked up the sun and had a bible study together.
When we were in the midst of unpacking upon our return home a few days later, my wife discovered that her compact New American Standard New Testament was missing. After a little thought she remembered that she had placed it on the ground next to the rock we had been sharing as we enjoyed the Word and the sun following our bout with the inclement weather… and that it was most likely still there! Since that was her favorite study tool at the time, we held hands and asked for the Lord’s protection over it. Then we made a pact to return to that spot the next summer.
Well, you guessed it! We had barely parked our little red woody Pinto wagon at our campsite the next August when Piper threw open the door and ran to that solid chunk of granite. I soon joined her and together we searched the perimeter and low and behold, she found it! We enjoyed a good laugh when she presented the book to me as it had swollen to about twice its original size due to the winter snows, the subsequent melt and the rains that frequent the area.
The amazing part was that it was still very much readable and Piper continued to use it for another year until I bought her an identical bible for her birthday. After that, it became a little reminder of God’s faithfulness and occupied a prominent place of display in our living room as well as being used as an object lesson by Piper to our kids!
That memory of that day sitting on that big, warm and dry rock along with Piper’s bible sitting somewhat protected under its shadow during the winter storms, came into focus as I read the Prophet’s words. He declared “Trust in the Lord always, because the Lord, and the Lord alone, is an everlasting rock.” (God’s Word ©) When I followed my usual pattern and began to look up the meanings of some of the words in the verse in their original language, I had another one of those “Ah Ha!” moments.
I was surprised to discover that the word translated “rock” in this version or “strength” in others, actually speaks of “a cliff or an edge.” A little meditation on that meaning brought to me the idea that the one who explicitly trusts (or literally puts their “expectations”) in the Lord goes over the edge of their natural understanding into an entirely new realm! One of my commentaries gave a couple of scripture references in Deuteronomy 32 concerning Isaiah’s statement. Verse four says that “He is a rock. What he does is perfect. All his ways are fair. He is a faithful God who does no wrong. He is honorable and reliable.”
Further down in verse 15 the writer talks about the Israelites who abandoned God and declared that they “treated the rock of their salvation like a fool.” (both scripture renditions from God’s Word ©) I believe that the same could be said of some of us Christians who have abandoned the place of God in certain areas of our lives and yielded our allegiance there to natural understanding. That action brings a part of our life back from the abundant, borderless realm of our almighty, unchanging God and confines our options within the very limited box of our intellect. The Greek translation of the word “rock” includes the thought “of things which overstep the province of a created thing.”
As I mentioned in past blogs, I was cast into that role of a “fool” in the minds of a few individuals when we overstepped the boundaries of their intellect concerning our trust in following what we believe has been the Lord’s clear path for us to take. This came up again a few days ago in a phone conversation with one of them. Although it was much more of an encouraging discussion than in the past, they still seemed to not hear or understanding some of the things I spoke of and shared their own thoughts on why we were doing certain things… that to be honest, made no sense at all to me! In looking at Isaiah 26:4 this morning, I firmly believe that parts of our life are simply in a realm that they have no conception of. You could say that in their way of understanding we’ve gone over the edge!
Well… according to God’s Word, that is a very secure place to be… and I am proud to be in the realm of God’s limitless love, grace, power and ability. What do you think about that? Albert Barnes says that is a place where God is “firm and unchangeable.” I believe it is the realm where God sits back after we have entered in with Him and says with us, like Colonel Hannibal Smith of the TV and movie “A-Team” fame declared: “I love it when a plan comes together!”
Have a fantastic weekend. Stay in tune to His Word and keep asking yourself… “What or Whose REALM AM I LIVING IN today?”