For years now Isaiah 30:15-30 has been one of those “anchor passages” in my busy, often margin-less life (it might help to skim it right quick). This passage is so counter cultural, because it tells us that in repentance and rest is our salvation, in quiet and trust is our strength. That seems like crazy talk to me. Resting, being quiet, trusting – those things don’t get anything done! They’re so passive, just sitting there.
Waiting….... quietly…... trusting.
What I’d rather do is handle life myself, get busy fixing the problem and helping God get things sorted out. Isaiah says, “God offers you all this, but you would have none of it.” He calls this “jumping on my horse”, riding swiftly away from my problems (or to solve them). But at the end of the ride, the problems are still there, waiting, always one step ahead.
What God often does through this passage is calling me to margin, to make space for relationship with God. See, I can talk God’s ear off while I ride off on my busy horse. I can ask Him to bless my efforts, tell him all about the things I am doing. But relationship requires listening, reciprocity, and time. It requires me being quiet, listening for God’s voice. It means repenting of thinking I can get it done, and asking God what, if anything, He wants me to do. It means resting, hanging out with God. Relationship.
When I don’t have margin, relationship with God becomes very one-sided, a monologue rather than a dialogue. I read the Bible quickly, looking for nuggets of insight about me, rather than looking for deeper relationship with God (here's a great post about how to avoid this). Without margin, the things that are urgent (or seem urgent) overwhelm and drown out the thing that is best and most necessary. Margin gives me opportunity to commune with God, the God that Isaiah says “longs to be gracious to you, who rises to show you compassion.”
And what is the key to receive this gracious compassion? Time and space. “Blessed are those who wait for Him.” Waiting…quietly…trusting.