I recently came across a book called “Spiritual Journaling: writing your way to independence”. It is by Julie Tallard Johnson, a licensed psychotherapist and the author of “Teen Psychic” and “I Ching for Teens”.
I came across a quote in it that amazed me.
“Walk in the light of your own fire, and in the flame which ye have kindled.” (Isaiah 50:11)
I was amazed for two reasons – generally a “spiritual” book doesn’t have any Bible quotes in it. Often they feel that it is more “spiritual” to quote Buddha, or Lao Tzu, or Rumi – anybody but Jesus or a Hebrew prophet.
But then I re-read the quote. It didn’t feel right, especially from Isaiah. This quote talks about relying upon yourself and your own powers. I can see how a “spiritual” author would want to encourage that.
But if you want to know anything, you have to know it in context. This one sentence is not a complete thought. This verse isn’t even all of verse 11. It has been carefully edited to say what the author wants it to say, instead of the truth.
Here is Isaiah 50:10-11
10 Who among you fears the Lord
and obeys the word of his servant?
Let the one who walks in the dark,
who has no light,
trust in the name of the Lord
and rely on their God.
11 But now, all you who light fires
and provide yourselves with flaming torches,
go, walk in the light of your fires
and of the torches you have set ablaze.
This is what you shall receive from my hand:
You will lie down in torment.
So really, the message is to NOT walk in the light of your own fires, because you will get lost. Being in darkness and trusting in the Lord is better.
This reminds me of the poem by Alexander Pope in “An Essay on Criticism”, which states-
“A little learning is a dangerous thing ;
Drink deep, or taste not the Pierian spring:
There shallow draughts intoxicate the brain,
And drinking largely sobers us again.”
We would do well to think critically at all times, and to examine everything. Don’t be misled by someone else.
Likewise, some wisdom from Proverbs 3:5-8
5 Trust in the LORD with all your heart
and lean not on your own understanding;
6 in all your ways submit to him,
and he will make your paths straight.
7 Do not be wise in your own eyes;
fear the LORD and shun evil.
8 This will bring health to your body
and nourishment to your bones.
I’m a little concerned that the author of the misleading book is a psychotherapist, and that she writes what appear to be witchcraft books for teenagers. What else is she telling them that will lead them away from the path of life?
We all must be sure to check everything we read, to make sure that it is true and healthy for us – in body, mind, and spirit.