Seen and unseen - trust them both!
Although the Old Testament may not be the "current" scripture of today, we can learn a great deal from the principles recorded for us there. When Moses was leading Israel into the Land of Canaan, he was given the Law of Moses - rules and standards for living which would keep the people safe when followed. In God's economy, spiritual safety is his first priority - desiring relationships above any other thing man might want to be "safe" from or in. Today, there are equally many things we might want to find our safety "in" - but the concepts are the same. WE want safety in things we can see, feel, and experience first hand. An example of this might be the seat belts in our car - WE can apply these, pull them tight, and feel securely snug in our seats navigating around corners and halting quickly behind a vehicle in front of us. God wants us to be able to trust the things which are unseen, just like we might trust the airbags securely hidden behind the beauty of the dashboard, door frames and the like - not seen, but trusted to work when needed nonetheless. God's actions on our behalf are often unseen, but when we enter into a relationship of trust with God, those unseen actions become the backbone by which we stand erect and strong. It is enough to merely ask for his strength - we don't have to necessarily see it to experience it!
The Lord our God is near when we ask him to help us. No other nation has a god like that! And no other nation is great enough to have laws and rules as good as the teachings I give you today. But you must be careful! Be sure that as long as you live you never forget what you have seen. You must teach these things to your children and grandchildren. (Deuteronomy 4:7-9 ERV)
The truth of relationship is interwoven throughout all of scripture - God's primary desire is that of relationship - to share his love with each of us. No other focus concerns him in quite the same manner. We might not understand the intensity of such a love because human love and understanding is based upon what we can see, feel, and touch. Sure, love is probably an "emotion" of sorts in some eyes, but in reality it is based upon what we experience. There has to be some display of love for us to actually begin to trust in this thing we call love. If we were to approach God in this same manner, we'd fall short of the experience he wants each of us to have with him, though. If we are to fully understand God's love, we have to trust it as much as we trust the unseen airbags to be there when we need them in our vehicle!
Although this passage was written to the people of Israel, about to enter into the Land of Promise they were given as their place of residence after being delivered from the slavery of Egypt, we can glean a couple of important truths from it which apply to ALL people everywhere:
- God is as near as our words - spoken and unspoken! I have shot up many an "arrow prayer" in the quietness of my thoughts simply asking God to be near, to give me wisdom, or to let me know the path I should take. I have also uttered those audible prayers. Neither one is "right" - both reach the ears of God equally as well! Why? He is "near" to our voice - spoken and unspoken. He yearns to interact with us. He waits to hear from us - his ear ever-tuned to hear our faintest of cries, our quietest of worship, and our jubilance of praise.
- There is no other god like our God! There are a lot of "competing" gods in our lives, but no other quite stands the test like God himself. He is not swayed by our selfishness, nor is he put-off by our reluctance. He is not squeezed into a box, nor is he limited by the skies themselves. He is all things, all powerful, and all knowing. He is present in good times and bad. He is freedom where bondage beckons release and hope where hearts sink deep in despair. We might have little "gods" all around us, but no other "god" is concerned with relationship above all else. No other "god" wills us into his open arms. No other "god" binds up our wounds.
- His teachings are unique and able to be trusted! No other teachings are as consistent, trustworthy, or interwoven with grace as his. There are great authors, great leaders, and even great works of art - all pale in comparison to the truth he gives in his Word. No conflict exists in it, no self-effort is displayed in the teachings we behold within it. All we see from start to finish is grace and more grace. The "thread" of grace runs deep in scripture - because grace is what reaches the heart of man and binds him in relationship with God himself.
Yep, we are called into relationship - not to languish there in the midst of the pleasure of knowing his love, but to begin to walk out that love for others to be able to see, feel, and experience it. Yep, even God knows our need to see, feel, and touch in order to fully experience. So, he gives us each other - practicing his teachings, embracing his grace, and living close to him each and every day. In this display of his love, we learn to trust what is seen, but we also count on what is unseen! Just sayin!