Read Isaiah 50
Focus on verse 10-11
“My Way” is an old song written by Paul Anka and made popular by Frank Sinatra in the late sixties and early seventies. The lyrics of the chorus “I did it my way” struck a familiar cord with the independent spirit of American culture of that era. This notion of doing things our own way is not unique to American culture, though we have turned it into an art form. It actually goes back right to the beginning of human history, and has since been highlighted every few generations or so by a culture that pushed it to the limits of God’s patience.
In today’s reading God asks the question “who fears the Lord and obeys the voice of His servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” (v. 10) Apparently the people to whom this was directed had a sense of doing things their own way as well. In the following verse He gives a warning to those who chose to walk their own way. “Behold, all you who kindle a fire, who equip yourselves with burning torches! Walk by the light of your fire, and by the torches you have kindled! This you have from my hand: you shall lie down in torment.” (v. 11)
It would seem that while God at times puts obstacles in our path to prevent us from straying off the path He has destined for us, He does not always prevent us from choosing to go our own way. In this case he simply issues a warning that if we persist in doing things our own way, the consequences will be that we will “lie down in torment”. It is never God’s desire to see us suffer, rather it is His desire to bless and prosper those who choose to walk in His ways. Many of us question that theology when we see people who appear to be walking with him suffer.
There are two places where we misinterpret the data in regard to this. First, we assume that His concept of what it means to “be blessed” is consistent with our own, and second we assume that His blessing and our suffering are polar opposites. What if the most direct path to His blessing for us is through a time of suffering for us? What if His presence with us in the midst of our suffering is a greater blessing to us than a time of ease and prosperity, which, incidentally most often seems to result in us wandering away from Him?
I am still always tempted to try to do things “my way” along with Frank Sinatra, but I am slowly learning that in the long run – God’s way is less troublesome.