Just out of reach
Three weeks ago, Terese and I had a chance to break away to Sioux Falls for a few days to visit Tony, Natalie, and the grandkids. We had a wonderful time, even in below-zero weather. One day the temperature registered -16, not including the windchill factor—that was -33. We came home to a Michigan heatwave of 19 degrees.
In Sioux Falls it’s tradition for Audri and Gio to spend at least one night with us in our hotel room. To help prepare for an evening of fun and games (and special treats of course), we always stop at the grocery store on our way to the hotel. On one of those biting cold days, as we came out of the store, occupants of the car right next to us were taking an unusually long time getting into their vehicle. Terese and Gio jumped in our car on the opposite side, and Audri and I waited out in the cold until they finally got in and shut their car door. I whispered to Audri, “Murphy’s law.” She had a puzzled look on her face, and I proceeded to explain to her all about Murphy.
Murphy’s first law: Anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Law #2: Nothing is as easy as it looks. Law #3: Everything takes longer than you think it will. And Murphy’s fourth law: If there is a possibility of several things going wrong, the one that will cause the most damage will be the one to go wrong. Are you getting the idea here?
I’m not sure the following observation belongs to Murphy (maybe a relative of his), but I have noticed that a dog will never have an “accident” on a dirty floor, it’s always on brand new or freshly cleaned carpet.
Or how about when you can be in the car for hours, stuck in stop-and-go, bumper-to-bumper traffic; but the one time you need the light to turn red so you can stop the car and activate Bluetooth, all the traffic lights you pass stay green.
Or how about this one: Have you ever noticed when you're involved in a project that requires three hands and you finally line everything up perfectly, but you accidentally drop the screwdriver you're using, it always lands just out of reach?
While using your entire body to hold everything in place, you stretch as far as you can, grunting and groaning the entire time, you manage to locate the screwdriver with the tip of your finger. You work every muscle in your body, elongate your arm to the absolute max, almost to the point of dislocating something, and you finally pull the screwdriver back in. At that very moment, the screw that was perfectly aligned a second ago dislodges from your other hand and falls to the floor. When it hits, the screw rolls just out of reach.
So you take your freehand, the one you're holding the screwdriver with, and using the full extension of the screwdriver, you reach for the screw. You move the screw little by little until you can grab it. By now, you're sweating profusely, your whole body is shaking uncontrollably, but you're finally in position to try the same maneuver again.
Then all of a sudden, the little plastic clip the screw has to attach to, the same plastic piece you’ve been holding with the baby finger on your left hand, comes loose. The law of gravity kicks in, and the plastic clip falls to the floor and slides just out of reach.
Do you know that’s exactly the way a good majority of people would describe their own personal relationship with God? Just out of reach. So many good Christian people come face-to-face with Jesus, King of Kings and Lord of Lords. They experience His love, mercy, forgiveness, and life-changing salvation power; only to allow His divine grace and favor to slip through their fingers and fall to a position… just out of reach. A place where the full blessing of God is so close, but yet seems so far away.
I can tell you from past experience, oftentimes it feels like God is a million miles away. On occasion you would swear heaven is dangerously silent and divine help is nowhere to be found. However, the Bible reminds us over and over again that God is near to the broken-hearted; He saves those who are crushed in spirit. (Psalm 34:18)
In Psalm 16:8 (NKJV), David wrote, “I have set the Lord always before me; because He is at my right hand, I will not be moved. Did you know we can proactively choose to “set the Lord before us,” or we can strategically push Him to the back burner? We make that choice every day. We can keep God on the sidelines, at arm’s length, in somewhat of a neutral position, until we need Him of course. Or, we can live according to His Word, follow His instructions and teachings, passionately pursue Him, give Him first place in our lives, and stay in step with the Spirit.
In Deuteronomy 30:11-15, God said to the nation of Israel, His chosen people: “Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach. It is not up in heaven so that you have to ask, ‘Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ Nor is it beyond the sea so that you have to ask, ‘Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so that we may obey it?’ No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so that you may obey it.”
Colossians 1:10 ESV
…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God;