Have you ever thought, “I can’t believe my life has ended up here?” That thought could be positive or negative. On the positive side, maybe you’ve been married for a number of years and you looked at your spouse and thought to yourself, “I can’t believe I got someone as good as her!” Or on the negative side, perhaps you have a large amount of debt and you thought, “I can’t believe this is the financial situation I’m in.”
I’d like to think about the negative side of that question. How do we end up in difficult situations that we just can’t believe we got ourselves into? Another way to ask the question might sound like, “How did my life get to be this bad?”
If you’ve ever asked a question like that, you’re not alone. That’s a question that many people are asking at different points in their life. But there’s good news because God clearly shows us in His Word how we end up in situations that cause us to ask that question, and he also shows us how to change so we don’t continually find ourselves asking that question.
There are many places in Scripture that can help us answer this question, but there is a passage in Isaiah 30 that has a powerful illustration that really helps us understand how we end up asking, “How did I get here?”
Isaiah 30:12–14 (ESV)
12 Therefore thus says the Holy One of Israel, “Because you despise this word and trust in oppression and perverseness and rely on them, 13 therefore this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse, whose breaking comes suddenly, in an instant; 14 and its breaking is like that of a potter’s vessel that is smashed so ruthlessly that among its fragments not a shard is found with which to take fire from the hearth, or to dip up water out of the cistern.”
Isaiah was called to share the Lord’s Word to a people that wouldn’t listen. Although Isaiah spoke the very words of God and the truth to the people, they still wouldn’t listen to him. Instead, as it says in v.12, they “despise[d] this word and trust[ed] in perverseness.” That in and of itself isn’t good. But notice how Isaiah illustrates the consequences of despising God’s Word in vv.13–14. He says, “this iniquity shall be to you like a breach in a high wall, bulging out and about to collapse…”
Since I moved to the more rural, agricultural part of Lafayette a few years ago, I’ve noticed a number of barns that are dilapidated and on the verge of collapse. Their walls are often leaning so much that it looks like it would barely take much of a push to knock it over. And yet, many continue to remain standing for quite a while. Isaiah, is telling the people that their life is like one of those dilapidated, leaning barns.
The next phrase that Isaiah says is important. He says that the collapse and the “breaking comes suddenly, in an instant.” This is that moment in life when we ask, “How did things go this wrong? How did I end up here?”
That’s a really good question to ask, but far too often we answer that question incorrectly. Very rarely do we recognize that when our marriage collapses, or when we’re in financial ruin or in addiction that our iniquity in our life has made our lives like a teetering, leaning, dilapidated barn. Our life was still standing, just like a leaning barn. But one day it falls. It goes from standing to completely collapsed in an instant. It isn’t collapsing one board at a time. Instead, the whole thing goes at once.
Here are a couple of crucial truths to learn from this passage:
1. Just because your life hasn’t collapsed doesn’t mean that everything is fine.
Now, I know that isn’t the most encouraging point, but it’s crucial to understand. I had a conversation with someone recently who I had been trying to help over the past few months, but they hadn’t been very interested in receiving my help. Then just recently, they became very urgent about needing my help – so urgent about needing my help that they said if I couldn’t help this instant that I didn’t care about them dying.
What happened? Life hadn’t collapsed yet. I could see it coming. His parents could see it coming. His family could see it coming. But because things hadn’t collapsed yet, he judged that things were okay. And sadly, he judged the seriousness of his life’s situation inaccurately.
2. This passage puts the blame on me for my life collapsing.
Consider the man who essentially was blaming me for his death if I didn’t help him at the instant he needed it. Who was he willing to blame for his life being collapsed and for not caring? Me. I asked him to consider the fact that I had been seeking to offer him help for the past few months and he didn’t want my help. Unfortunately, he didn’t humble himself and recognize that his iniquity had led him to this point. Rather, he was looking to pass the blame elsewhere.
How About You?
It’s not just this one man that struggles with evaluating his life incorrectly and blame shifting. That’s something that all of us struggle with. But here’s my advice, which is coming right from this passage in Isaiah…heed the warning! Do not shift the blame and do not assume everything is fine simply because your life hasn’t collapsed. Do not “despise the word” (v.12) as the Israelites did.
Take time to ask yourself these evaluation questions:
- Are you intentionally prioritizing how you are using your time or are your circumstances dictating your time?
- Are you actively pursuing Christ through memorizing and studying Scripture daily?
- Do you have a vibrant prayer life or do you not see the need to pray much?
- Is there sin in your life that you are simply living with rather than actively seeking to put off?
- What are the most important relationships in your life, and what ways are you actively making them a priority?
- What area of your life are you seeking to grow in right now and what are you doing to accomplish growth?
If you take the time to honestly answer those questions, you’ll be able to answer whether or not your life is in a position of teetering or in a place of strength and growth. I pray that this illustration that Isaiah gives us will help keep you from finding yourself asking the question, “How did my life get here?”