For My thoughts are not your thoughts neither are your ways My ways says the Lord. for as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways and My thoughts than your thoughts. Isaiah 55:8-9
I love this scripture and I’ve heard it quoted a lot when people don’t understand something going on in their lives. In fact, I’ve often heard it used as a rock-solid biblical excuse for spiritual paralysis or intellectual laziness. The attitude is a little like: “Well God’s ways aren’t our ways, you know. His ways are big and high and our ways are small and low – we’ll never figure out His will in a million years, so we might as well just do what we want to do and let Him fix the mess later.” Yeah, it would be great to have a scripture that enables me to just stay in the shallow end of the kiddie pool; me and my cute, low-ness, just splashing around in my own humanity.
The problem with this scripture, however, is that the preceding sentences make it clear that God is not pointing out this Thoughts & Ways discrepancy to console the people of Israel, but to confront them. Check out this not-that-friendly verse:
“Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts and let him return to the Lord and He will have love, pity and mercy on him, and to our God, for He will multiply to him abundant pardon.” Isaiah 55:7
God is clearly saying: change your ways! He is uncomfortable with the distance between our thoughts and His thoughts and we ought to be as well.
To “forsake” means to “loosen, relinquish or refuse.” I know a lot of people who are scared to death of the economy right now – or totally buried under discouragement and depression. The situation in our country is a reality; it’s part of the fallout of our fallen planet and there’s no question that it’s a daunting season. Repressing those thoughts won’t help much – but allowing them to take over is a bad idea too. We need an answer, friends, and this verse has it!
Isaiah is shouting to us to loosen our grip on the temporary and move our eyes (and hearts) to things eternal and significant (things that are “beautiful in elevation”). Sometimes I feel like worry is a virtue, but God says, “Nope, Bo, it’s low.” It’s also really tempting to build easy escapes from difficult problems, but that will keep us tied to the low ways of terra firma and we’ll find our hope, joy and perspective held hostage by our circumstances.
Colossians 3:1 If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.
Romans 12:2 Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind…
I’ve found that my thinking doesn’t change overnight, but rather by a thought-by-thought by thought renewing (which means “renovation” in the Greek). As I continually remind myself of His position – His “above-ness” – I am able to deal with a thought of fear or discouragement or hopelessness and replace it with thankfulness and eternal perspective and peace. Recently, I was dealing with the heavy weight of a negative situation and I felt the Holy Spirit say, “If this situation has become bigger in your thoughts than the resurrection of Jesus, then you need to change your mind about a lot of things, sister.” Ouch. And true.
Sometimes, I really just want joy to “fall”. But joy must be pursued and it often isn’t found at ground level. In order to know true, lasting, powerful joy, I have to be willing to get up out of the muck, push my eyes up above the swirling storm and find a safe place in His shelter, high above my enemies.
Loving Thoughts that Lead to Joy,