This year Ready for the Road Ahead is taking on a new direction. It is one that follows the grand theme of sight in all aspects which runs throughout Scripture. My weekly writings will be excerpts from a book of the same name which should be published (Lord willing) later this year.
I confess there are times when I take pictures that are bad. Really! They’re out of focus, the horizon is tilted, the composition is poor and it’s usually due to the fact that I took the picture too quickly without paying attention to the details. Most of the time I delete them. But every now and then I like to challenge myself to make something out of one of those horrible shots. This involves lots of time playing in my photo processing program until the finished product looks nothing like what it started out as. Sometimes I will share the results with other photographers and ask, “What do you think you’re looking at?” Not too many are able to figure it out. It never appears to look exactly like what it was but these fun adventures in photo processing have taught me that life can look that way too and the Bible is full of stories that prove it.
The ancient city of Jericho had a long-standing history by the time the people of Israel began the conquest of the Promised Land. Due to its strategic location, this walled city was destroyed and rebuilt several times before Joshua and his army set eyes on it. By Joshua’s time the “wall” was actually a double wall. You can still see the remains of this massive defense system when you visit Israel today. It takes a little doing, but using your imagination one can see how formidable Jericho must have looked to the people of Israel. They had spent the last 40 years wandering around the wilderness area on the other side of the Jordan River. Word comes from the Lord on how to take the city but I’m sure a few eyebrows were raised when it was revealed that the plan involved only shofars and walking! But archaeology proves what the Bible claims- the wall came down. It really came down! Interestingly, one section remained intact. Now I wondered why that happened?! (Jos. 6:1-27).
A similar situation arose during the ministry of Jesus (Jn. 11:1-44). Jesus had been on the road ministering to and healing the sick. While he was away his friend and follower Lazarus of Bethany had taken ill and died. A message for Jesus to come and heal Lazarus had not reached Jesus in time so that when the Lord arrived in Bethany the days of mourning were almost over. Lazarus’ sisters greeted Jesus in their typically opposite fashion but both took note that if Jesus had arrived earlier Lazarus may not have died. Neither sister knew Jesus’ understanding of his friend’s death. But Jesus had already told his disciples the reason. “This sickness is not to end in death, but for the glory of God, so that the Son of Man may be glorified in it” (Jn. 11:4). The scene moves to the graveside where all the mourners and family believe Jesus has come to express His sorrow but instead Jesus asks them, “What are you looking at?” (only in “my” verison!). The tomb is not an ending; it is merely a testimony to the One who has power over life and death.
Life is full of “Jerichos”; those double-walled times when whatever we face seems insurmountable. I find myself standing and staring at them just as I did when I actually stood in Jericho looking at that famous wall. They seem massive and well-built, and I am a little rag-tag army who has spent most of her life roaming in the wilderness. But just as archaeology has supported the Biblical account of Jericho’s fall, past events in my life prove that God is more than able to see that those walls will come down. It is inevitable that life will also bring you to a tomb. It may appear that “the picture:” is bad or a dream is dead, but when Jesus puts it into the photo processing program, you’ll be amazed by what He turns out. The Bible is filled with people who saw God do amazing things in the face of insurmountable obstacles. Here are just a few: Ex. 14:5-31; 2 Ki. 6:8-23; Mt. 14: 13-21; 17:24-27; Lk. 7:11-17. There was no greater obstacle than the one Jesus faced in conquering sin and death. But the Resurrection proves He was able to overcome what seemed to be impossible (Jn. 20:1-18). There is no Jericho that God cannot break through. There is no tomb that can stop Him. If you are facing “a wall” in your life right now or “a tomb”, take heart! Thanks to Jesus, that wall is going down and the tomb is an event in your life designed to glorify Jesus! So, what are you looking at?
Ann H. LeFevre, M. Div.
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