SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON/The Whole Mountain Disappeared
Wednesday, May 15, 2013 1:00 AM
"Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring forth." (Proverbs 27:1)
One moment I was looking out the front windows at the ridgeline that faces the cabin across the way and the next moment that whole range of hills was gone. A smothering, thick blanket of white fog had engulfed the entire hillside seemingly just that quickly. It was as if I had closed my eyes briefly and then reopened them onto a different world entirely.
I was utterly surprised by the development before me. And in my amazement, I began to consider how analogous this event was to life itself and how often our insight into things ahead are clouded and obscured just when we think we see things so clearly.
If you are like me, you may start out each week with a flexible formation of a "to-do-list" of things you need or want to accomplish in the days ahead. You know there will be interruptions, of course, but at least it provides you a working, sketchy agenda (a skeleton, of sorts) for your week. How often does your week neatly follow that plan? In other words, how often are you completely surprised by sudden and unforeseen events that surface for which you did not plan?
Again, if you're like me, it happens quite frequently, and to a measure we just learn to live with that uncertainty, don't we? But what about those other insertions that create alarm in our lives? - happenings that seem to throw our day into a sudden tailspin? - things that, as Chuck Swindoll put it, work "to transform saints into atheists" in an instant?
You know of which I speak, don't you? - those occasional, wild and unruly events that suddenly grip our hearts with incapacitating fear or even that deadening series of events that leave us deflated with sheer frustration? One moment your life is sailing along on even keel and the next moment you are nearly swamped with waves too large to manage.
What questions come to your mind in those instances? How about, 'Where is God NOW?', or 'Does God see THIS?', or 'Does God care?', and 'Will He help me?', or what about 'Can I trust Him NOW as I did yesterday?'. Yes, these are just a few of the questions that oh so suddenly seem to spring up within our consciousness when we are suddenly baffled by life and I wonder if the writer of today's verse didn't have these very questions in mind as he wrote to warn us of the uncertainty of life.
With great candor, the writer tells us that we never know what a day can bring forth. It is not within our capacity to see that far into the future as to know for certain what the day may bring. That privilege only rests with God and we should not boast as if we can determine the events of tomorrow as can He. Recently my wife and I were up in the mountains and driving along one of the winding roads between one town and the next when we can upon a roadside sign with a severely squiggled arrow upon it.
We understood immediately the inaudible warning embedded in that piece of roadside art. It was telling us to slow down and to anticipate curves ahead. Both of us started laughing. It was just that funny, for at no time had I held the steering wheel straight for more than five consecutive seconds in the past ten miles! We could only begin to imagine what the next few curves would be like.
You know, life is like that. It has a way of lulling us to sleep at times. We get locked into a routine - a rut, if you will (and there's nothing wrong with ruts), and the shock of a sudden disruption in the flow of our existence is hard to take.
Quickly, life as we had come to expect it, has been swallowed up by that suffocating, obscuring whiteness of uncertainty and we can't see nuttin' at all! A frightening blindness has descended upon our day (our week, our life) and now edging forward by feel into a blank unknown somehow seems all that for which we can hope. Have you been there? Perhaps you're right there, right now?
If that's where you are at, remember that for the one "who trusts in the Lord, lovingkindness shall surround him." (Ps 32:10) We may not be able to see what the day holds in store for us, but we know who holds and governs over the day. We may indeed have come under attack with nauseating fears of the unknown but our God can even then wrap us within His cloak of love and protection.
At all times, the believer's confidence is not in his or her own ability to foresee the curves of life and to plan and prepare for them all.
Rather, our confidence rests in God Himself and in His tender mercies and sustaining grace. He that powerfully has set boundaries for the waves of the sea, has also placed limits upon those events which would strike fear in the hearts of the most saintly of us. The adversities are only designed for our ultimate good and it is through them that we come to learn true joy.
Let me ask you - just how twisted, crooked and confused is your life at present? What is the degree of darkness that has descended upon you?
God's guiding and helping hand may for a moment be obscured from your sight, but it is there none the less. All light has not been extinguished. You have His Word. Follow it. Listen to His voice. Walk forward into the uncertainty, by the glimmer He provides until He is ready to lift the fog and reveal more of the road ahead for you once again.
The Rev. Donald Caviness is pastor of First Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, MS.