I listened to the tape of the message my father preached in my absence last Sunday and he made an interesting observation. He said that after the publication of a book entitled "Satan Is Alive and Well on Planet Earth" Christians began to shift their eyes away from God, particularly when bad things occurred, and began to focus on Satan. He went on to say that one of the signs of a great church is the ability to keep one's eyes on God. I believe God has used our automobile wreck to sear into our minds and hearts five truths:
- Our physical life hangs by a thread held by the hand of God.
Jonathan Edwards is considered the father of the Great Awakening in America. He traveled among the colonies preaching a message based on the text "Their foot shall slide in due time" (Deuteronomy 32:35). Edwards addressed those without Christ and said:
"Consider the fearful danger you are in: hell is a great furnace of wrath, a wide and bottomless pit, and you hang over it like a spider on a slender thread held by God's hand."
- It is one thing to believe truth, but far more difficult to live it.
I tell people all the time that the longest eighteen inches in life are the inches from the brain to the heart. It is easy for us to know the truth, but very hard to apply it. I know in my head that my joy is to come from my comprehension of God's grace and not my circumstances, and I believe that real happiness is independent of one's circumstances: but when you are in the middle of difficult circumstances, it's hard!
- You never really appreciate what you have until it is gone.
We recently received wireless Internet access in our home and it enables me to listen to sermons from great preachers of the past anywhere in the house via my laptop. I was listening to George W. Truett preach his first message after he had accidentally killed his best friend in a hunting accident. In his souther oratory, Dr. Truett cried:
"You never really appreciate what you have until it is gone."
- It's much easier to sympathize with people when you identify with them.
We are told by the Apostle Paul to "bear one another's burdens" (Galatians 6:2). It would be impossible for us to bear everybody's burdens, but it is much easier to bear the burden of someone you can identify with. Cancer survivors bear the burdens of Christian cancer patients. Addicts can bear the burden of other addicts. There is a soft spot in my heart for anybody having been in an automobile accident.
- The only things we take to heave are our relationships with people.
Job had it right when he said, "Naked came I into the world, naked shall I return" (Job 1:21). You will ultimately take nothing to heaven with you but your love for Christ and His people. Coming very close to death gives you a fresh perspective.
"Our great teacher writes many a bright lesson on the blackboard of affliction."
"We should be more anxious that our afflictions should benefit us than that they should be speedily removed from us." (Robert Hall)