Scripture: Judges 17-21
Preacher: Gerhard Venter
Summary: Sometimes we see God’s holiness much better in the light of the sinfulness of humans, as is the case in the final chapters in the Book of Judges.
I usually have a co-driver in the car, one that constantly reminds me: “Look where you drive!” We actually have a saying that has kind-of reached “joke status” in our family that goes something like this: Look where you drive; don’t drive where you look. I believe there is a spiritual lesson in that saying.
Recently I’ve been reading through Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians. In explaining (actually defending) his ministry among them, Paul highlights some of the difficulties he experienced as a messenger of the God and a missionary bringing the message of salvation to Corinth. He says that, although the Gospel of Jesus Christ is a spiritual treasure, it is held in “jars of clay” (4:7), referring to himself as just a human and frail missionary who is exposed to persecutions, struggles, opposition and many other challenges. He faced tremendous difficulties in seeking to share the Gospel with them.
However, Paul reasons that it is all worth it since it is not about him as a vessel, but about the treasure (the Gospel of truth) that he in his weakness “carried” to them. He ends this section by explaining how he was able to endure the many struggles and difficulties. It was all because of his true focus, where his eyes are, where he is looking. The final verse in the chapter (4:18) sums it up: “For we fix our attention, not on things that are seen, but on things that are unseen. What can be seen lasts only for a time, but what cannot be seen lasts forever.”
So, it’s where you look, it’s on what/whom you focus, that counts.
When life on earth gets tough (and it does and will continue to do so), we have to learn to “look where we drive”, in other words, keep your end destination in focus. Don’t look at the world around you, the difficulties you face, the sins that trip you up, but rather look beyond this temporary life. The author of Hebrews puts it this way: Let us run the race “fixing our eyes on Jesus” (12:1-2).
I recently followed a devotional on the Bible app Youversion, about waiting on the Lord, written by Charles Stanley, well-known pastor of a large church in Atlanta, Georgia. I don’t know if it was written specifically for this COVID-19 time, but I certainly found it very appropriate for this time of waiting for the virus to “go away”! Most of us have experienced some form of waiting, quarantine, isolation and even loneliness – all because of a virus that has stopped the world in its tracks. And it’s not all over yet, with recurrences, a “second wave” and a variety of different kinds of experiences. It seems it will take a while before things settle and we have some form of (new) normal again.
The theme of waiting runs throughout Scripture. It looks like the Bible sees it as a normal part of life. Whether it’s waiting for healing, waiting for peace, waiting for the Lord to answer a prayer, waiting for persecution to end – it is accepted as life-as-we-know-it.
It’s also important to note in Scripture that the “waiting” experience is described in light of our relationship with God. Instead of simply complaining or getting angry, believers in the Bible take their plea to God. A good example is found in Psalm 27, where David expresses his faith in God while acknowledging the difficulties he is going through. He mentions severe challenges, such as experiencing the wicked against him, being besieged by the enemy, having to fight a war and living through days of trouble. But in all of this he takes his refuge to God, saying: “The Lord is my light and my salvation – whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life – of whom shall I be afraid?
While we are waiting and when are in the midst of the most severe trials, we can have hope, as long as we focus on God, our Rock and Salvation. Isaiah reminds us that “they that wait upon the Lord, shall renew their strength” (Is 40:31). May the Lord strengthen us and increase our patience as we trust Him during this time of waiting.