He Carries You – Isaiah 46:1-4

We were riding in a cycle rickshaw in India when I realized that Jerry and I put a significant burden on the man who gripped the handle bars. Laboring to maneuver us through Lucknow’s busy streets, we watched his thin legs work hard to get us to our destination. I was concerned he might break a leg or fall off the bike. How I wanted to fix a good meal for the undernourished soul.

Earlier that week we’d toured Delhi, passing temples to different gods and shops offering idols for sale. The small bus that carted us around felt much safer than the rickshaws, especially when we passed overloaded wagons swaying as the livestock plodded along.

This morning I found these verses in Isaiah that brought me comfort.

“. . . their idols are on beasts and livestock; these things you carry are borne as burdens on weary beasts. They stoop; they bow down together; they cannot save the burden, but themselves go into captivity.

“‘Listen to me, O house of Jacob, all the remnant of the house of Israel, who have been borne by me from before your birth, carried from the womb; even to your old age I am he, and to gray hairs I will carry you. I have made, and I will bear; I will carry and will save'” (Isaiah 46:1-4 ESV).

Our God carries us, we don’t carry him. We’re his burden, he isn’t ours. And he’s far stronger than our friends in India.

Thank you, strong and mighty One, you haven’t dropped us yet!

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

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Making a Dramatic Lifestyle Change – Isaiah 43:19-21

When I prepared to leave home after graduating high school, it was like throwing my toothbrush and jacket into a backpack and taking off for the wilderness. Did I really understand what I was doing? I was also concerned I might not like what I found when I reached my destination.

Where am I going?

Living as an independent adult wasn’t as easy as I thought it would be.

My grandparents had recently moved to a house on Almaden Street, and I entertained the idea of claiming their basement room for myself. It was damp and musty, empty but for two box crates stacked in the corner. I arranged them under the tiny window, planning to decorate them with dandelions in a tin can.

At some point I’d put a mattress on the floor. I could live without furniture, for a while anyway. I would eat brown rice and split peas . . . and well, I could get along without lots of things.

It sounded like a great idea, “roughing it,” spending time alone with God and not having to put up with other people and their problems.

My fantasy lasted about 7 hours.

When I came to my senses I marked out a different path. Living and caring only for myself wasn’t going to be good. I recognized my true life goal is to follow Jesus where he leads—to sacrificial love for others.

A way in the wilderness

I recently found myself taking an unexpected turn on my path, which involves working to improve my health. After a physical exam I read several books to compare professional opinions. I’ve been eating a whole foods, plant-based diet now for one year and ten days, and I’m thankful to say it’s helping me manage arthritis pain without prescription drugs.

“I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert. The wild beasts will honor me, the jackals and the ostriches, for I give water in the wilderness, rivers in the desert, to give drink to my chosen people, the people whom I formed for myself that they might declare my praise” (Isaiah 43:19b-21 ESV).

Whatever comes on our life’s path, we can trust him to make a way.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis

Can I Cut Off my Sin Forever? – Matthew 5:30

I looked at the brown hair clippings lying in the sink, afraid to look in the mirror. At least, I reasoned, I feel more righteous now.

That morning I’d propped my books on my hip after class, weaving through the students in the social studies hall. Ever mindful of my hair, I shook my head slightly to show it off its long waves. I didn’t think there was much attractive about my appearance, but I sure enjoyed the compliments I got on my hair.

Good pride / bad pride

It’s OK to be proud about some things, but at Tuesday night Bible study we learned about the kind of pride that dishonors God. The pride that lifts itself up above him. The voice that says we don’t need him. The pride that blinds us to our need of his righteousness, because we’re doing just fine on our own thank-you-very-much.

I was sure I didn’t have a pride issue. After all, I hated being the center of attention. Except, of course, if it involved someone noticing my hair.

That’s when I decided my opinion about my hair wasn’t a good kind of pride–and I had to take care of the problem. Note to self: Next time pray first.

“And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell” (Matthew 5:30 ESV).

That evening I found my mother’s sewing scissors and took them into the bathroom. Lifting my hair away from my shoulders, I chopped it off. Then I asked Mom to help me straighten it up in the back. I felt utterly shorn. When I examined the outcome in the mirror my pride evaporated, lickety-split.

The Results of the Pride Surgery

I couldn’t believe it when the very next day as I watched a girl with a crazy hair-do pass by, I boasted inwardly that I’m more humble than her.

Oh my goodness, I about dropped my notebook. I was proud of my humility! You’ve got to love the faithfulness of the Holy Spirit to reveal what’s true.

And the truth is this, there is no way I can keep myself free from the sin I get wrapped up in so easily. I need Jesus’ sacrifice to cover me every day. And I need to walk closely to him, listening to his voice, accepting that sometimes he’ll lead me to the cross so that what needs to die will be dealt with. I can’t remove it completely on my own.

“. . . let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus . . . who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross” (Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV).

The moral of my story: Don’t be in a hurry to pick up a pair of scissors.

by Kathy Sheldon Davis