April 23, 2015

My line from the sky

Joshua 12:1–13:32, 2 Corinthians 11:7–15, Psalm 52:1–53:6

Last night’s dream was vivid and related to reality. I was climbing a mountain with a few other people. The face of the mountain was steep and fairly smooth, difficult to get a handhold. As we neared the top, ice coated much of the rock. Finally we reached the last 15 feet or so, and it was straight up and covered with ice. We could see that the peak was level. It even had some vegetation growing there, but it was impossibly out of reach. We rested on a small ledge. Going back down never entered our heads. Then, high in the sky a helicopter appeared. It dropped a line with a body sling on the end. At that point, I woke up.

I’ve 1.5 weeks left in my last course and will graduate after that. The end is not impossibly out of reach, but it is difficult. My only hope is a line from the sky, not from a helicopter, but from the Lord God.

I wonder if Joshua felt like that when he led his army to began conquest of the Promised Land. Today’s reading describes the battles. Of one it says, “They came out with all their troops, a great horde, in number like the sand that is on the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces and came and encamped together . . .  to fight against Israel.” However, in the next verse the Lord says, “Do not be afraid of them, for tomorrow at this time I will give over all of them, slain, to Israel.”

This was Joshua’s line from the sky, and “So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses. And Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.” (Joshua 11:4-6, 23)

For me, the past couple of years have been a battle. It was not about conquering the lesson material, or writing exams and term papers. The battleground was some areas of my life exposed by intense Bible study. God was going deep and I am still surprised by the deception of the enemy who held me oblivious to many selfish ideas and by the resistance in my heart to give them up.

The NT reading is about the devil’s deception too. Paul is writing to the church in Corinth and says, “I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.” (2 Corinthians 11:1–3)

That entire church was in a spiritual war and from what Paul wrote in 1 and 2 Corinthians, it appears they didn’t realize the danger. They were up on a mountain without any hand or footholds and oblivious to their problems. Paul had much to say to them about their sinful attitudes.

David also had a sin problem. He took another man’s wife and had the man murdered. David knew that his sin began in his heart so he prayed, “Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.” Jesus affirms David’s thoughts by saying in the NT that our heart is the source of sin. God’s people need to think like God if we are going to serve Him well and with integrity. We need His attitudes in our hearts.

Bible study challenges the heart. It can find things tough to overcome, like climbing a steep mountain. David knew he needed a line from the sky, and I also know that. He prayed, “Restore to me the joy of your salvation, and uphold me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors your ways, and sinners will return to you.” (Psalm 51:10, 12–13)

My prayer is like David’s in some ways. Yet I am also in a resting place, at least for a little while. Certainly I’ll not reach the summit without God. Certainly that diploma is not the end of this battle. God will work toward transforming my life until Jesus drops down His line from the sky to take me out of this world and into His eternal dwelling place.

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