Links Daily Devotional

No Easy Way Out

“…stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel.” (Isaiah 30:11b, NIV)

You know, for all the talk of getting better, you don’t really need to change anything about your golf game. You can enjoy it well enough just like it is.

Here’s the rub, though. A friend of mine, whose game is quite strong, walked away from team play at his club a few years ago, as well as many of the club tournaments, because he found that too many guys were playing the game they’d always played, with no interest in getting better. “They were satisfied,” he says, “with their 12 handicaps.”

Do we dare to be confronted with the Holy One of Israel?His lament reminded me of the words that I’ve heard longtime Links Fellowship leader Tim Philpot say many times: “If you want to compete, forget the strokes. Get better!”

You see, among good players, scratch is king. There is only one standard.

In Isaiah 30, the prophet spoke the words of the LORD, and God painted a picture of those who would rather beg off than meet the standard. It was a most serious indictment, one the LORD called “heaping sin upon sin.” This is because the standard was heeding the LORD’s instruction.

But let’s back up. A few verses before chapter 30 begins, God said this of those who were meeting the standard: “The humble will rejoice in the LORD; the needy will rejoice in the Holy One of Israel” (Isaiah 29:19). It’s not that the standard couldn’t be pursued, not that there weren’t those who were trying to do what God would have them do. They were there, the humble. And they were blessed of the LORD.

What is at issue is that there were others, though who would rather go with their own plan, which was to call on the strength of men. They made pacts with Egypt, because they saw the wealth of Pharaoh and the size of his army. But Isaiah said of that so-called help, it “is utterly useless.” The independence of the people persisted. They pushed away the prophets of the LORD and secured their own preferred voices: “They say to the seers…, ‘Give us no more visions of what is right! Tell us pleasant things, prophesy illusions. Leave this way, get off this path, and stop confronting us with the Holy One of Israel’” (Isaiah 30:10-11).

There is no reason to lock these words in history. They apply to our own time, when many would rather have their ears tickled than their heart trained (see 2 Timothy 4:3). Do we dare to be confronted with the Holy One of Israel? There is a fear in such surrender, no doubt, but it is the very kind of fear that leads to wisdom and growth and excellence.

Jeff Hopper
February 24, 2016
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