Saturday, July 30, 2011

It’s Friday….

No, Rebecca Black is not going to do a guest post.  But her celebration of Friday made me think of how often our celebrations are usually about what we’re getting away from rather than what we’re looking forward to.  And, yes, this is getting posted on Saturday, not Friday, but let’s get back to the previous statement.

It’s TGIF, not because we look forward to what we’ll do Friday night or Saturday and Sunday, but because we get away from the workplace for something longer than overnight.  Some of us look forward to Sundays less for the experience of worship than getting away from the experience of the other six days of the week.  Or we mow the lawn on Saturday morning, not looking forward to what comes after – a great looking lawn or watching a ballgame when we’re done.  Instead, we’re thinking of when we’re done with the task of mowing.  That doesn’t sound very Biblical, but it is.

If we read about the Israelites’ trip to the Promised Land in the book of Exodus, it sounds a lot like what I described above.  They left Egypt because of the oppression, not because they were looking toward what they were going to.  God gave them plenty of time in the desert to readjust their thinking.  But what happened instead?  In a place where there was little or no food available, God gave them a regular supply of manna to eat.  So, the Israelites complained about not having pheasant.  God gave them pheasant.  And the Israelites complained that the desert was too harsh for too long and wanted to go back to Egypt.  They compared their present surroundings with their past surroundings.  Forgetting or excusing the oppression, ignoring the destination. 

What we’ve described above (both for the Israelites and our TGIF) is very Biblical.  And very wrong.  It’s the kind of thinking that has us running away from something instead of running to something.  Let’s look at the Israelites, again.  First they were running from the conditions in Egypt.  Then they were trying to get away from conditions in the desert.  And, when they finally reached the border of the Promised Land, most of the spies were talking about running from the giants in the land.  On the journey through the desert, they even created an idol because they were spiritually running from God.  And all of that can sound like us, can’t it?

There’s a problem with running away from something instead of running toward something.  Have you ever tried running while looking back at where you came from.  Your path isn’t strait, you can stumble over things in the way, you’re not likely to end up very close to where you intended to be.  If a runner isn’t keeping his eyes on the course and the goal line, he can end up running into the crowd instead of crossing the finish line.  Proverbs 29:18 tells us, “Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he.”  If our focus isn’t on the goal, we can deviate from the path to get there.  Because we’re watching the wrong thing.

We’re told in James 4:2b-3a that: “yet ye have not, because ye ask not. Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss”.  That’s speaking of prayer and prayer is not a game where you get a free “get out of jail card” for this life.  First,’ that passage is saying that we don’t ask at all, either because we have no relationship with God or, if we do, our focus is still more on ourselves than on Him as our means to an end.  If we do have that relationship, we may not ask because we don’t understand God’s character and nature or the nature of our relationship.  Or we may ask for the wrong things for the very same reasons or because we’re still focused on us.  Or there may be sin that needs to be confessed and eliminated.  And God gives us the way to solve that.

If we don’t have a personal relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, you can ask God to give you that relationship.  And, if that’s true for you, you can ask Him to do that right now.  That is the most important decision you can make.  And the process is as simple as talking to God and telling Him you’re making that decision to change focus and thinking.

Once we’ve done that, we need a Bible (to hear from Him) and a good church.  If we think of Christianity as a team and God is the best head coach ever, the church gives us assistant coaches (pastors) and experienced team mates (other believers) to help us fully understand the playbook (the Bible).  And, with lots of communication back and forth, we grow in focusing on the goal instead of where we came from or the distractions on the sidelines.

So, is it still TGIF for you?  Or do you have your eyes on the goal line?

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