You Can Go Your Own Way

I’ve been reading Jeremiah the last couple of weeks. The story goes as typical with the prophets. They cry out with messages from God, “Repent! Turn back! Get rid of your idols”…and the like. But the people don’t want to hear this. This can’t be from God, they say.  This is just some delusional man who is trying to ruin our party. Don’t listen to him. Just ignore him. What can we do to make this guy shut up already? I know, let’s kill him.

This was the sad but common plight of Jeremiah the prophet, also known as the “weeping prophet”. Jeremiah was intense. I bet he was hard to ignore, which is ultimately why they plotted his death. But the Lord was with him. The Lord gave Jeremiah supernatural discernment to detect the plots, and gave him favor with the people appointed to help and protect him. I take a lot of comfort in knowing this. In Jeremiah’s life we see the governing hand of the Sovereign Lord who really is in control – for good or for ill.

And this is good news because we are often out of control. Well, at least I am. The more I pray, the more I realize my absolute impatience. I am constantly ready to veer off course without much external stimuli. I have enough of my own internal chaos provoking my perpetually hasty steps.  What is my problem? This has been my prayer lately.

I came across part of the answer in Jeremiah, I think. He had just cried out on behalf of the obstinate people (again), “O Hope of Israel, its Savior in times of distress why are you like a stranger in the land, like a traveler who stays only a night? Why are you like a man taken by surprise, like a warrior powerless to save? You are among us, O Lord; and we bear your name; do not forsake us!” (Jeremiah 14:8, 9)

My translation, Where are you God? What are you doing? More importantly – what are you NOT doing? Why don’t you help these people? Where are you in all this? Do not turn your back on us God!

It was God’s answer that hit home for me. “This is what the Lord says about this people: “They greatly love to wander; they do not restrain their feet. So the Lord does not accept them; He will now remember their wickedness and punish them for their sins” (Jeremiah 14:10).

Ouch. Harsh, isn’t it? Ok. So, now I run the risk of coming across to you like a Jeremiah. I realize this might be an unpleasant realization for you. It is the kind of message that does tend to put a hamper on the party, don’t you think? But don’t shoot the messenger.  That’s how it hit me too. The Lord convicted me through His words of the serious cost of my wanderings. We can go our own way, but to our detriment.

This reminded me of a scene from Isaiah (another prophet – I think there is a theme here). Isaiah had a vision of the Lord before Him. “I saw the Lord seated on a throne, high and exalted, and the train of His robe filled the temple. Above him were seraphs, each with six wings; With two they covered their faces, with two they covered their feet, and with two they were flying. And they were calling to one another: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord Almighty; the whole earth is full of His glory” (Isaiah 6:1-3).

I heard something once in Bible study about the seraph that has always stuck with me. The two wings covering their feet signify their self-restraint in not choosing their own path. By covering their feet, the seraphs show us a picture of humility and commitment before Holy God.

Let that sink in for a moment along with Jeremiah’s prayer and the Lord’s response.

We bring disaster upon ourselves and ultimate ruin when we dismiss the Sovereign Lord and pursue our own path. He allows us that freedom, but it is not without cost. It comes with high personal cost to us, and dishonor to God’s Holy Name. We can choose the way of humility and self-restraint instead. This is the path of personal well-being and glory unto God. We honor God when we cover our feet and cry “Holy” before Him. 

Ah, Sovereign Lord. Hear my unrestrained cry to restrain my uncontrolled ways: O Lord, I dare not choose my own path. I want to walk in Your will, and Your will only. Give me eyes to see and ears to hear you; the self-control to walk in the path You have set before me. You say, “This is the way, walk in it….walk before me, be blameless”. I cover my feet before You O Lord and cry, “Holy, Holy, Holy is the Lord Almighty…the whole earth is full of your glory”.  I humble myself before you, Holy God, and commit my way to Your Sovereign control. Amen.