Friday, March 23, 2012

Trusting Babylon

Today one of the questions accompanying my Bible reading in Isaiah was,
What "Babylon" are you betting on to shelter you from the uncertainties of life?
During Isaiah's time, Judah was looking to Babylon for protection. They were trusting another nation, another set of rulers and armies to help protect Judah, God's people. God's people who saw the Red Sea open for them to cross and then close behind them keeping the Egyptians from attacking. God's people who had manna fall from heaven every day year after year to provide for the daily sustenance of his people wandering in the desert. God's people who saw God tear down a city wall after Joshua and his men circled it 7 times. God's people who lived under David and Solomon.

But they had also seen their world divided and broken apart. They had become proud of their accomplishments and distracted by all the pleasures the world had to offer. They had followed corrupt and evil kings. They had stopped following God. And now they felt unsafe, insecure, and in need of help but instead of turning to God, they turned to their neighbors. They sought safety with Babylon. They bet on Babylon being able to protect them from the Assyrians.

And so the question asks, "What 'Babylon' are you betting to shelter you from the uncertainties of life?"

It's a good question to ask. I think a lot of people do have something they hold to, something they hope on, to keep them safe - physically, emotionally, even spiritually. I think that when life is going well, when our circumstances are good, we start to trust in them, in our life itself.

But for some of us, life was never about constancy. There was no sense of equilibrium growing up, but instead a constant state of flux and adjustment. Not just my circumstances but the very people in my life were shifting unexpectedly, sand beneath my soul's foundation. And so I have never really trusted this world.

I have never really trusted my circumstances. Jobs are lost. Homes move. Schools change.

I have never really trusted people. Friends betray. Family is unable. Strangers surprise.

I learned somewhere along the way that the only thing I can trust - rock solid, firm foundation, always present, never changing, never moving - is God.

And while it is good to put my trust fully in God, to bet on him to shelter me, there is something sad about not being able to trust people. I am trying. But it is hard to let the barriers down.

Which is funny because I am known for being authentic. But there is something very different for me between being authentic and being vulnerable. I can be completely honest about who I am. I can share my struggles, my disappointments, my hurts. But I don't do that from a place of vulnerability. I am able to be authentic because I know who I am as a child of God, I know I am wonderfully made, as are you. I am secure in that so I feel safe, not vulnerable.

And if you don't like me, or hurt me, I am very good at walking away.

See there is where I could be vulnerable. In the staying. In the connecting myself with someone else emotionally, in a way that might actually end up with me being hurt sometimes. In trusting someone else to take care of me, to love me, to challenge me when I need it, to walk along side me. But that all requires me to trust, even to the point of getting hurt. And I'm not sure I'm willing to do that.

There's a fine line between self protection and closing oneself off.

There's a fine line between trusting God alone and not trusting the people God put in my life.

There's a fine line between God being all that I need and only letting God in.


  1. Really moved by your the phrase... there is something different between authentic and vulnerable.  Yes!!  I, too, am known for authentic and yet struggle VERY much with vulnerability.  What a thought provoking post, Jennifer... this one will sit with me today, I am sure.  What Babylon am I trusting?  

  2. Thanks Stephanie. I have been sitting with this idea and what to do with it for a while now. It's not an easy one to process because every part of me cries to self protect even in the name of Jesus being all that I need. 

  3. Oh, wow.  That fine line . . . but one that feels so difficult to cross.  Thank you.  It is so difficult to want to let people in when we've been hurt -- no matter who the person is.  This post is beautifully challenging.  Thank you.

  4. Thanks Jennifer. It is hard but something I am definitely trying to face and figure out. 

  5. Um. You are smart. Super smart. Loved this.

    1. Thanks for your encouraging words. I actually touched on this topic again -