We are happy to welcome ministry-focused college and seminary students from around the country and overseas to write in June of 2020 for The Park Forum. Each of them is pursuing a career in ministry and received free coaching on their writing as a part of the program. For more information about the program and a profile of each of our student writers, visit our Student Writers Month page.

Today’s student writer is Erin Newton, a student at B. H. Carroll Theological Institute.

Scripture Focus: Isaiah 47:13, 15b
All the counsel you have received has only worn you out!
Let your astrologers come forward, 
those stargazers who make predictions month by month,
let them save you from what is coming upon you…
All of them go on in their error;  there is not one that can save you.

Reflection: The Idol of Control
By Erin Newton

Science instructs us that the orbit of planets will not give us control over our present troubles. Yet, we often wait outside in order to place our hope on a falling star.

In the Ancient Near East, one method of predicting the future depended on looking at stars. Rulers attempted to hold the reigns of an uncontrollable world through the advice of astrologers, magicians, or sorcerers. Isaiah condemns the Babylonians who sought the counsel of professional stargazers in order to avoid disaster. God assured them that the pursuit was in vain; their methods were worthless.

Today, we find ourselves immersed in a sea of advice, tips, and information. When crises threaten our lives, we turn to the internet and search for security. We look for ways to prevent illness, raise perfect children, ensure a high paying job, and avoid any personal discomfort possible. The cacophony of voices try to tell us what to do, think, or feel. The abundant and conflicting counsel from the world is a burden with no promise of peace.

While ancient astrologers and sorcerers hoped to read the divine plan in the sky, the prophets spoke of a greater divine work—God would write upon the hearts of humanity. Those searching for the will of God no longer need to aimlessly look for cosmic signs. The Spirit will guide believers in truth and teach them all things. (John 16.13)

Is the onslaught of voices in the world burdensome? Is the attempt to control circumstances causing us to struggle with a lack of peace? Jesus calls us to abide in him. We can lay our weary head upon his shoulders. Rest in his unfaltering plan. True peace comes from trusting in the wisdom, plan, and counsel of God. It is good to gain advice among God’s people but we must ensure that we listen first and foremost to God’s wisdom.

In our pride, we attempt to use the wisdom of the world to create a sense of control over our uncontrollable futures. Our love of control manifests through our anger, anxiety, or willful avoidance when life becomes uncomfortable. Our idols are revealed in our responses. In this, we are no better than the Babylonians. We struggle against the crises in life when we refuse to rest in the wisdom of God. Let us release our grip upon the future and abide in Him. 

Divine Hours Prayer: A Reading
Jesus taught us, saying: “This is what the kingdom of God is like. A man scatters seed on the land. Night and day, while he sleeps, when he is awake, the seed is sprouting and growing; how, he does not know. Of its own accord the land produces first the shoot, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear. And when the crop is ready, at once he starts to reap because the harvest has come.” — Mark 4.26-29

– Divine Hours prayers from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Summertime by Phyllis Tickle

Today’s Readings
Isaiah 47 (Listen – 2:52) 
Revelation 17 (Listen – 3:19)

Read more about A Sin We Are Proud Of
Pride and selfishness don’t seem that bad or dangerous. Storing up for ourselves is prudence. Seeking our own peace and prosperity is honorable. God thinks otherwise.

Read more about A Discipline for the Anxious
We live in distressing times. If there are corners of our world not touched by division, aggression, worry, and angst, you probably can’t get email there.