|Vol. 15 No. 3 March 2013||
Decades ago, there were three large wooden crosses set up along the highway in various locations across the South. For years now, these have served to remind travelers on their journey of God’s indescribable gift of a Savior so desperately needed to deliver us from our sins (Matthew 1:21).
Within three miles of this writer stand three wooden crosses. However, with the passing of time, the view has become almost completely obstructed by the overgrowth of trees and bushes. Today, very few make eye contact with these crosses, and few know where they are located.
“Out of sight, out of mind” is a familiar saying that carries the idea that something is easily forgotten or dismissed as unimportant if it is not in our direct view. Could God’s redeemed ever forget or dismiss the cross as being unimportant, outdated or irrelevant in our lives and for our time?
So many worldly things compete for our attention and devotion. If we lose sight of the most valuable things (those that are spiritual and pertain to the kingdom of heaven), we will be shut out when Jesus comes. In Luke 14:15-24, Jesus taught and warned of this in His Parable of the Great Supper. Still today, most people do not make time for God. People are still honing their excuse-making skills. Through the centuries, Jesus’ words still ring, “That none of those men which were bidden shall taste of my supper” (vs. 24). Whatever worldly things that crop up to divert our attention from Christ, the cross and his subsequent demands on our lives must be cleared away. It’s an ongoing process.
In the original language, the word translated “looking” in Hebrews 12:2 is defined by Thayer as “to turn the eyes away from other things and fix them on something.” In the context, it has reference to Christ and His cross. Down the road, the cross, the greatest symbol of love, mercy and grace to ever be bestowed upon mankind, is covered over by the symbol of neglect and indifference. Is the cross of Christ clearly in view each day as we make our pilgrimage?
“Gloom, despair and agony on me; deep down depression, excessive misery; if it weren’t for bad luck, I’d have no luck at all. Gloom, despair and agony on me.” Did you recognize this as one of the customary songs on the TV show Hee Haw? Or did you recognize it as the way you or someone you know claims to feel sometimes?
It is true that, because of circumstances or our own attitudes, we all get into the doldrums sometimes. It is human nature but it is the dark side of human nature, and we can look to God for the help that we need to keep us from having these feelings.
We all know of those who have dwelt on their problems so much that they actually do become miserable and downtrodden. That does lead to gloom and despair and has actually brought some to the point of taking their own lives to escape the issue of having to deal with whatever is making them miserable. How can people escape these feelings of desperation? I submit to you that God is the answer to all of the issues of human living, and that includes the worst, self-imposed destruction that anyone can think of bringing upon oneself. Listen as the psalmist spoke of this matter:
He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty… Because you have made the Lord, even the Most High, your habitation, no evil shall befall you… For He will give His angels charge over you to keep you in all your ways. Because he has set his love upon Me, I will deliver him; he shall call upon me and I will answer Him; I will be with him in trouble; with long life I will satisfy him and show him My salvation. (Psalm 91)
Do you see what the psalmist figured out? He knew that, when he decided to listen to God and obey Him, God became the answer to his problems, no matter what they were! The problems may be physical, mental, spiritual or a figment of one’s own imagination, but God will take care of His faithful followers.
Let us go back to a psalm of David: “I poured out my complaint to Him; I showed Him my trouble… I looked on my right hand and beheld that there was no man who would know me; refuge failed me; no man cared for my soul… Bring my soul out of prison that I may praise your name” (Psalm 142). This was the cry of a desperate man who knew that mankind cared nothing about his plight, but he put his faith in God, and we know that God dealt kindly with David. Just remember that, regardless of circumstances, David had to remain faithful to God and demonstrate his love for God in order to be taken care of by God.
No matter what happened to David, his faith in God remained constant. God delivered him from many dire circumstances, and He will do that for you if your faith is constant and true. In order to receive God’s blessings, one’s life must reflect love for God, and his actions must show that he loves God and wants to please Him.
Jesus said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. If you love Me, keep My commandments” (John 14:13-14). The reason Jesus could say that He will do whatever you ask is that you are to ask in His name; therefore, the thing you are seeking will be blessed because you are asking in the correct way. To face all of your problems head-on and not to be overcome by them, put godliness first in your life and everything else will fall into place. God will be there as your anchor and refuge. You will not have to worry about the strength needed to overcome dire circumstances – that strength will come from God. As the song says, “Be not dismayed whate’er betide, God will take care of you.” God will be your strength.