Saturday, April 5, 2008

Hiding in Plain Sight?

This blog has had a lot to do with the showers project -- The Lord's Rain -- on the Downtown East Side, but the title actually relates to my book, "A Very Convenient Truth", which is a Bible journey around the environmental issue. One of these days, I'm sure, the Lord is going to bring all of these issues together in one great revelation about the connection: He has a way of doing that, doesn't He?

Anyway, one of the key Scriptures behind the thesis of the book is
If My people, which are called by My name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sins, and will heal their land.
-- 2 Chronicles 7:14

Now, you'd think that, having read that and embraced it and clung to it and pounded it (using it as the "punch-line" in my recent talk-show interview with Thor Tolo on KGNW Seattle), that I'd know it inside and out and would have wrung as much meaning and nuance out of it that I could, right?


Interestingly, one of the problems I'd had in quoting that passage was that I kept saying, "and will hear their prayers", rather than "and will forgive their sin"; so I always had to make sure I had a Bible open in front of me for quick reference. Thankfully, I had my Bible with me in Thor's studio.

Now it's hit me: forgiveness leads to healing.

Was that a "plain sight" revelation waiting to happen?

For whether is easier, to say, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and walk?
But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (then saith He to the sick of the palsy,) Arise, take up thy bed, and go unto thine house.
And he arose, and departed to his house.

-- Matthew 8:5-7

Receiving forgiveness from God is sometimes easier (if "easy" is the right concept) than receiving healing. Physical pain lasts longer than guilt, and for some people, understanding that God has forgiven their sins gets into the soul and spirit a lot more readily than understanding that one is healed. But there's Jesus, telling us that the two are one and the same. And, in fact, there's God, telling us that as we turn back to Him, He forgives us and as He forgives us our land is healed.

But that's not what this entry is about. This entry is about the fact that often, the solutions God provides for us are hiding in plain sight. In Genesis 21, we read about Hagar, Sarah's servant, who was the mother of Ishmael. She's been run out of the household by Sarah -- once Isaac had been born -- with nothing but a bag of food and a bottle of water. When the water runs out, she leaves Ishmael under a bush and goes off by herself, so she doesn't see her child die. That's when an angel comes to her and tells her the Lord has heard the boy's cries, and reminds her that He had promised to make a great nation of him.

That's when God opens Hagar's eyes, and she sees a well. She runs to the well, fills the bottle with water, and gives it to the boy.

The well was always there. She just couldn't see it, because she was looking inward and concentrating on her own plight: it took God to open her eyes.

We run into situations just about every day, in which we focus on ourselves and our situation. When we do that, we usually forget what God has promised us. Even if we open our eyes in our own strength, we might not see what God wants us to see. But if we allow God to open our eyes -- as He did with Hagar -- we see exactly what we need, and that will relate directly to the promise God has for us.

Praise God, He has given us His Word about the promise He has for us. 66 books, spelling out what He expects from us and what we can expect from Him.

So when we run into trying situations, situations where we can't seem to stop focusing on ourselves and what a trial we're going through and what attacks the enemy has been laying on us, we need to ask God to open our eyes and show us the well in the wilderness: what's been hiding in plain sight, waiting for us to look at it. Then, like Hagar, we need to run to it, fill our bottles with as much as they can hold, and share it with everyone who needs it.

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