Happy Chinese New Year! Hope you have been having an enjoyable break. I’ve been sick over the past week but am back on my feet now and ready to eat some good family meals!
My wife recently introduced me to a new app called Travel Frog, which has been a huge hit amongst younger people in HK and China. In this game you provide various foods and equipment for your frog companion, which he will take on his journeys throughout Japan. In return, he will bring back snapshots and souvenirs from his trips which you collect.
There is very little to do in the game, especially if your frog is not home. Additionally, you have no control over when or where the frog goes, how long he stays and when he returns, and what he brings back with him. Numerous articles have been written on the attraction and popularity of this simple game. Most focus on the lesson of letting go – accepting that, although you can prepare and equip as best as you are able, you cannot control the outcomes that may result.
Isaiah 38 tells the story of a king who had to let go of everything. In this chapter we read of King Hezekiah’s illness that nearly led to his death. He describes it like this:
In the prime of my life, must I go through the gates of death and be robbed of the rest of my years? Isaiah 38:10
In desperation, the king prays to God and God hears him and heals him. Once he is able to look back, he realises that God has done all of this. I hate being sick, yet I have to admit that, like Hezekiah, only during times of sickness, do we find ourselves totally dependent upon the grace of God. It is as though we finally realise our own mortality and, in that realisation, we find we cannot control even our own health.
Hezekiah learnt to trust God as a result of his experience. As a result of his “soul-anguish,” Hezekiah found humility in trusting God:
I will walk humbly all my years because of this anguish of my soul. Lord, by such things people live; and my spirit finds life in them too. Isaiah 38:15-16
After his sickness, he found a new perspective. “By such things people live,” he writes, and so in the second half of his life he lived not for his own glory or achievement as king but in humility before God – and in this way he “finds life”.
As I walk around the city I am struck by the incredible amount of activity and busyness we see all around us. It was then that I realised that in such busyness there is no room to stop and seek God as long as we are consumed by our own activity. Over this New Year period, let me encourage you to pick up the Seek God For the City 2018 Lent devotional. You can pick up the app for just a token amount here. We should use it as an aid to our own prayers as we “let go” of our self-importance and the busyness that can result from it, and turn to God in reliance and prayer.
In day 2 of the devotional guide we are asked to “seek God for humility instead of complacent pride.” Inside we read these words:
“Not only do we keep ourselves busy, we often take pride in how preoccupied we have become. But our ambitious self-sufficiency leaves us disillusioned and weary on the inside.”
Life in the city can leave us exhausted and at the end of our strength, as we strive to achieve, make a name for ourselves, and impress those around us. The message of Isaiah calls on us to turn from trusting in our own ability and strength to trusting in the God who made us, knows us, loves us and who alone can save. Who will you trust?