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 (ESV)
This is the ESV passage of the day today, and I find it extremely refreshing in its straightforward bluntness.
Here the Lord is saying “you and me, we don’t think alike”. But he goes farther. Not only are our thoughts different, he posits an analogy for us: God’s way of thinking is higher than ours as the heavens are higher than the earth.
How high above the earth are the heavens? The people this was originally written for might have had a figure for the distance between terra-firma and the big dome of the sky. I know that today, if we have a similar figure, it’s astronomical.
This passage lines up so completely with what I’ve observed, especially over the last few years. In teaching, I’ve gone from telling people such niceties as “our thoughts are sometimes faulty” and “strive to think Godly thoughts” to just telling them what I consider to be the truth, though it’s not as polite:
“You and I are crazy”.
I’ve been observing the thought processes of those around me and my own self as well and I’ve begun noticing a profound streak of insanity. We know what’s good for us, but we don’t do it. We think we see clearly, even when walking in a fog. Most of us consider ourselves experts at the motivations and intentions of those around us, but if there’s one thing I’ve noticed in the human condition lately, it’s how completely awful we are at discerning what other people think. Get involved in a dispute between two people and prepare to be amazed by how thoroughly they misinterpret the other.
And, most frighteningly, we often misinterpret God’s motives and character in his dealings with us. We experience his love, his discipline, his correction, and just the circumstances of life and assign the most outlandish and evil motivation to our loving Father. It’s childish and low.
The fallen human mind, even in those who are being sanctified, has an intense capacity for self-deception. The more I live, the more I see this. And it is only in filling our minds with the truth of God’s word and a healthy (and sometimes brutal) dose of humility that we begin to see clearly. And, thanks be to God, scripture promises that one day we will truly see as we are seen, and know as we are known. The darkened glass will lighten, the fog will lift. We shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
In the meantime, let us seek the Lord. For it is at his side, with his word as a lamp for our feet, that our steps become firm and our path more clear. Humbled in his presence, there is pardon for the wicked. That’s the love of God. And that’s a thought that’s higher and grander than anything we can imagine.
Seek the Lord while he may be found;
call upon him while he is near;
let the wicked forsake his way,
and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him,
and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.