“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.”

(Isaiah 55:8)

As I began meditating on Isaiah 55:8, I was pricked with a sense of sadness. I was saddened by the reality of separation.  God is thinking thoughts. God has ways of doing things.  And so do I.  And this verse is showing me that there is a separation between His thoughts and ways, and my thoughts and ways.  I was struck by the undeniable separation that the Lord is identifying.

The temptation that came next was – to stop meditating on this verse! I don’t want to think of myself as being separated from my Lord! I don’t want to meditate on the distance that there is between myself and Him.  But I kept receiving the verse anyway.  And I began to see that my sorrow was the beginning of something wonderful. “Blessed are they that mourn:” Jesus said, “For they shall be comforted” (Matthew 5:4). The mourning was necessary for what would come next.

I must see the distinction between the thoughts of my carnal mind, and the thoughts of God. I see this distinction as I spend time in God’s law, because His law expresses His mind and thoughts.  God has thoughts.  God also has ways. And I cannot duplicate His – only receive them.

“Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God.” (Romans 8:7-8)

God’s ways and my ways are at odds. The fact is – my thoughts and ways can’t, and never will, please God.

Have you ever wondered why you do the things that you do? Your ways – your course of action – flows from your thoughts.  What you think about, you eventually do.  And, in many ways, I believe, it is the same with God. God thinks thoughts and those thoughts are the framework for God’s ways. Because my thoughts are separate from God’s thoughts, that means that I also have ways that are different than God’s ways.

Two words stood out in Isaiah 55:8 that brought hope and comfort. The first one was the word ‘my’. “My thoughts are not your thoughts.”  The word ‘my’ holds the idea of possession. God is telling me that He thinks thoughts.  They belong to Him.  They are original to Him.

God has made a way for us to turn from our own thoughts and ways and to receive His. This is because our relationship with our Lord involves covenant. In a covenant, what belongs to one becomes the possession of the other. And a covenant requires exchange.

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his. And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Romans 8:9-11)

If you and I have received a covenant relationship with God through His Son, that means His Spirit lives inside of us.  We used to be separated from God – we used to live by our own thoughts and walk in our own ways.

And then He sent a mediator.

As God exposes our separation from Him, He is also showing us that we have need of a Savior.  Jesus is the Way – God’s Way! Jesus is the Word.  Jesus is, in a sense, God’s thought. In receiving the Lord Jesus, we are receiving God’s thoughts and His Way.

Because of our Mediator, Jesus, and because of our accepting of the New Covenant made with His blood, we don’t have to think our own thoughts or go our own way anymore.  This means letting go of my ideas, opinions, and assumptions, and exposing myself to the loving scrutiny of God’s Word.  It means that His thoughts become our thoughts, and His ways our ways.

God thinks thoughts.  Then, as an expression of His thoughts, He speaks Words.  As we meditate on God’s Word and yield ourselves to Him, we are learning what it means to walk in the fullness of a relationship with Him. 

Peace, by definition, means oneness.  It is only when I lay down my thoughts and accept His word, surrender my opinions for His truth, and turn from my ways and agree to walk in His, that peace comes.  So, in pointing out the separation between His thoughts and mine, and my ways and His, my Father is inviting me to make an exchange.

So how do I make the exchange? How do I allow His thoughts to become mine? This is where the next hopeful word comes in.  This second word is in the last phrase, “saith the Lord.” The Lord is saying something to me.  Do you see what that means? That means He is holding out His hand to take mine.  By offering me His Word to listen to and live by, He is offering me His thoughts in exchange for mine. He is speaking to me. He is initiating an exchange. He is giving me His Word – Jesus – to live inside of me. Not alongside me, not in addition to me, but instead of me.  As we have seen in Isaiah 55:8 so far, He is offering me something if  I will listenHe isn’t out to ‘fix’ my flesh so that I will do everything right.  He is offering me something far more deep that touches far more than merely outward actions.  He is offering me His Life.  And that is in exchange for something – in exchange for my own.

God offers me His Life and that means He is offering me His thoughts.  And they can’t co- exist with mine.  They are offered in exchange.  And they are to be received. This means meditating on the law of God day and night.  It means quoting Scripture as I get up in the morning, get in the car, walk to school or work, and as I go to sleep at night.  It means God gets to define truth for me and that truth is my basis for making decisions, forming relationships, and speaking words.  Does it sound like I don’t live my own life anymore? Exactly.  His life in exchange for mine.  That’s covenant.  That’s Life.

 “As the Journey Challenge continues, may You remind us, Lord, that this is not an improvement plan, but an opportunity to receive Your Life – Your thoughts and Word – in exchange for our own. Thank You for showing us the separation.  And THANK YOU for giving us Your Word, and Your Way – Your Son – to live instead of us.

-Bethany Cleator