Lessons in the Tunnel
I was crossing a bridge on my drive home from church. With an excruciating headache, I’d left the Sunday morning service after worship, and now regretted missing the sermon. But, I was well aware the Holy Spirit could speak to me while driving home. So as I came to the bridge I began to think about the bridge being a metaphor for Jesus — his death on a cross made a way for me to come to God. As I thanked the Lord for his sacrifice, I asked the Lord a question, “If bridges have a spiritual meaning, what about tunnels?”
Silently, I waited for an answer. Living near the Atlantic coast, you put up with two things — bridges and tunnels. I prefer bridges because you can see where you’re headed. Tunnels, I strongly dislike. But tunnels are necessary too. As I listened, the Holy Spirit had much to say on the subject.
1. Tunnels allow huge boats to cross above. When we’re in a tunnel we have no idea what’s going on above. For instance, ships too large to sail under a bridge can easily glide over a tunnel. God showed me that when we’re in a place in our lives where it may seem nothing’s happening, He is moving and shifting big things into place. God is leading us into something, but not all the pieces of the puzzle are in position yet.
“As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9 (NIV)
2. In a tunnel, I can only see directly in front of me. This is what makes me nervous about tunnels. I feel totally dependent on the car in front of me. I can’t take my eyes of his brake lights — if he slows, I must slow. I must stay completely focused. As Christians, we can be assured God is driving the car in front of us, He knows where He’s going, and all we have to do is simply follow Him. In life, sometimes we can’t see down the road. All we can see is today. Therefore, we must live today to the best of our ability, focus on the task at hand, and trust God to reveal more information in time.
Then he got into the boat and his disciples followed him. Matthew 8:23 (NIV)
3. In a tunnel, we can’t change lanes. Most of us have experienced God placing us in a position we didn’t choose. Sometimes, we want a new assignment, but God is saying, “Stay where you are. Stand still. Don’t move to the right or to the left, follow me.”
“Now then, stand still and see this great thing the LORD is about to do before your eyes!” 1 Samuel 12:16 (NIV)
So be careful to do what the LORD your God has commanded you; do not turn aside to the right or to the left. Deuteronomy 5:32 (NIV)
4. Once we’re in the tunnel, there’s no turning back. If we’ve committed to going into the tunnel, guess what? No U-turns. No stopping. Not even an emergency lane. In fact, if we attempt any of those things, we will cause a dangerous accident affecting everyone else in the tunnel. We’ve all known believers who turned away and quit. Look around at the damage they left behind—pain, hurt, disappointment, divorce, disease, and even death.
Our hearts had not turned back; our feet had not strayed from your path. Psalm 44:18 (NIV)
5. There’s light at the end of a tunnel. I love when light appears and I can finally see I’m almost at the end. Any anxiety I feel disappears, and I know I’m going to make it out ok.
“Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the LORD rises upon you.” Isaiah 60:1 (NIV)
6. Every tunnel takes us to the other side. What’s on the other side? Daylight, fresh air, an open sky, a panoramic view, a new place, a destination, fresh hope, and a bright future — all good things!
If we’re in the tunnel, it’s imperative we trust God and stay close to Him — pray, listen, and pray some more. It’s never easy or enjoyable in the tunnel, but it’s only temporary! We will make it to the other side!
Missing the Forest for the Trees
By Debbie Holloway, crosswalk.com
“Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” Jesus replied:”‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments” (Matthew 22:36).
I just read an article about how being technically “overweight” might not actually, in and of itself, carry a higher mortality risk. It discussed how previously established governmental standards of healthy, “normal” weight might have sprung more from our society’s visual obsession with thinness, than with any inherent physical dangers of weighing more than your neighbor.
As mind-blowing as this conclusion may seem, perhaps the real problem isn’t a number on a scale. Perhaps it’s when too much extra weight for a person’s body brings on unnatural fatigue, immobility, illness, or discomfort. Perhaps the problem is eating too much, or too poorly, for our bodies to function correctly.
Perhaps we’re missing the big picture of health and wellness and zooming in too close on the raw numbers of weight.
I would venture to say that we do that in our spiritual lives as well. Perhaps you’ve diagnosed a fellow believer as having a spiritual “illness” – let’s say they don’t attend church on Sunday morning. Knowing only this raw data can lead to a judgmental shake of the head, with a sigh of “Hebrews 10:25!”
But, if you were to ask this person about their health and habits, perhaps you might be surprised. But I do meet together with other believers regularly, they may say, citing a weeknight Bible study or regularly occurring night of intentional fellowship. I travel weekends for my job, so traditional church is pretty impossible, they might say. There are many things they might say, many things that might remind us that a single suspicious tree might not be representative of the forest of someone’s life.
Jesus said that everything we learned from the Law and from the Prophets could be summed up like this:
Love other people.
This is the Forest. Everything else is merely a Tree within it.
If there is something in your life causing the Forest to suffer, only then can a problem be properly diagnosed (and, rest assured, if we ignore things like fellowship, worship or prayer for long enough those things will suffer). However, sometimes we get a little too focused on smaller things and forget about the bigger picture. We forget about the Forest, so preoccupied have we been on individual Trees.
Through The Bible
Genesis 6:8-9 (NIV) 8But Noah found favor in the eyes of the LORD. 9This is the account of Noah. Noah was a righteous man, blameless among the people of his time, and he walked with God.
In that world filled with violence, where man had corrupted all their ways, there was one man who dared to be different. Noah did not go with the flow of the world around him. He found favor (KJV ‘grace’) in the eyes of God. How could he do that? Just as Abel before him, he looked to the promise of a Deliverer and by faith believed that God would provide a way for him to be right with God. He leaned on the grace of God and not his own good works. The author of Hebrews tells us Noah “became heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” That is the reason he could be considered righteous. That trust in God was translated into a lifestyle of obedience to God.
Then we have that wonderful expression that says, “he walked with God.” Adam had walked with God in the Garden of Eden. Enoch, Noah’s great-grandfather, walked with God and was translated into heaven. And now, this man Noah, had found a way, by grace, back into the wonder of living communion with God. Because he walked with God, he was blameless among the people. This is the call of God to everyone, to walk with Him, to live in communion with Him. When we do that, we get God’s perspective on our situations and choices. We walk by faith and not by sight. We have a sense of reality that the world around us does not have. The product of living in that heavenly perspective is a life blameless among the people of our time.
Consider: Are you walking with God? It begins by finding grace through what Jesus did for you. It continues with daily communion with Him. Genesis 6:22 (NIV) Noah did everything just as God commanded him.