Trusting God's "Higher" Ways

Sam Petitfils

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares 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)

At very young age, a child begins to ask lots of questions. They usually want to know “why” something is as you say it is.  Sometimes we struggle for answers and reply, “Well, because it just is.”  We know that the sun rises in the East each day and settles in the West, but we may not know how to scientifically explain the reasons or causes other than God set this law in motion with creation.  The child more or less must accept the answers.

This passage in Isaiah records the superior thoughts of God when compared to mere men.  God encouraged the Israelites to follow His law instead of chartering their own path.  They were not to seek the idols of the surrounding nations, but to worship and serve God as He prescribed in His Word, particularly the first five books of Moses, sometimes called the Pentateuch.  When they did follow God’s Word, God blessed them with rain, crops and other tangible tokens of His favor and love.  When they chose their own way, God withheld these blessings from them.

This passage has often been cited to describe our inability to understand God’s higher knowledge.  True enough, but more to the point, we need to trust Him when He lays out the plan for our living in this world: We need to follow His Word.

Sometimes following God’s Word may not make sense to us.  For example, a young person who we will call “Joe” prays to get into a certain college, and then God answers the prayer.  During the first year, Joe faces his first exam and realizes that he might not do as well as he had hoped.  Some other students come up with a method to obtain advance copies of the exam, so they will be able to know the questions in advance.  They offer Joe a copy of the exam, and Joe begins to reason.  “God led me to this college and wants me to continue and graduate.  If I flunk this test, I may be on my way out.  Maybe I should accept the advance copy.”  But then Joe, a Christian, remembers he should never steal (Exodus 20:15; Ephesians 4:28).  It might make sense from a purely worldly point of view to steal the exam, but God forbids Joe from doing it, so he refrains.

Joe made the correct decision, and did so by believing God’s higher ways.  To the other students, it made sense to steal the exam so they could pass it.  But to Joe, following God’s Word trumped all other approaches.  That is what this text from Isaiah communicates to us.  We need to believe God’s Word regardless of how we think it may play out.  We need to accept God’s higher ways.  Our sense of right and wrong needs to be shaped by what God thinks, not by our first instincts.

We could apply this in many ways.  Let’s say a Christian girl named Susie prays for a husband, and then meets a nice young man that very day.  He is well spoken of and seems to have a good moral reputation.  Everything seems to fit, but then this young man informs Susie that he does not believe in God, but that he loves her and they should get married.  This makes sense to Susie, but then she recalls a message from her pastor that Christians should only marry other believers.  She researches what the pastor wrote and indeed discovers he spoke the truth (1 Corinthians 7:39; 2 Corinthians 6:14-18).  She decides to follow God’s Word rather than what might seem to be the logical path.  Just like Joe, Susie trusted God’s way even though she did not understand it all.  She honored God by following His Word even if it meant she would have to wait longer to meet the right person.

Our safety in this life can be found only in following God’s truth contained in His Word.  Let’s commit to trusting what He says and pledging to follow it.  He knows better than we do and we can trust Him.  When we follow Him, we demonstrate true wisdom, but also trust.  We place our trust in Him and commit to follow what He said in His Word.  He will lead us to green pastures and to His perfect will.  The crowd may make enticing promises, but they cannot deliver.

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