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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

On Whom Will We Rely?

I posted this in 2009. I thought about again it during a recent reading through 2 Chronicles.

So I'm reading through 2 Chronicles and I come to this verse in chapter 16: In the thirty-sixth year of Asa's reign Baasha king of Israel came up against Judah . . . . (verse 1).

What happens next is (for me, anyway) confusing -- and instructive.

But first, some back story. In chapter 14, Asa ascended the throne of David in Judah. Ten years later a million-man army from Ethiopia attacked Judah. When Asa prayed for help The Lord routed the Ethiopians before Asa and before Judah, and the Ethiopians fled.(verse 11)

Think of it. The entire Ethiopian army -- chariots, horsemen, soldiers -- the whole million-man army fled before Asa's army which was half the size.

But twenty-one years later, we are at chapter 16. This time Asa is besieged by another army, but instead of relying on God for help, he paid a foreign king to come to his aid.

I put the Bible down for a moment and wondered what happened in the intervening 21 years between the million-soldier rout and chapter 16. Scripture is silent, so I can only make an assumption based on human nature -- and I know human nature pretty well. I've lived with myself for more than 60 years.

I believe Asa forgot Whose he was, and to Whom he belonged. During those two decades Asa stopped praying, stopped worshiping, stopped reading God's word. And his slow drift away from his anchor bore spoiled fruit when he faced a situation he could not handle alone.

His turn from God didn't happen overnight. It occurred by degrees, over the years. I know it happened that way because in my 40-plus years with Christ I've watched many Christians slowly lose touch with God. They stopped, by degrees, attending Church. They left their Bibles closed for a week. And then three. Then years. Their prayer life slowed to a halt, and they exchanged Christian friends for non-believers. And to no one's surprise, when difficult situations fell across their path, they relied on anything else but God.

I know it happened that way because I remember the many times the spiritual desert loomed around me, and I nearly forgot Whose I am and to Whom I belong. The temptation to leave my Bible closed, or toss a quick and nearly mindless prayer toward heaven, or to sleep in on Sunday whispered its seductive arguments at me, almost quite convincingly.

Christian, listen to me. All of us are at risk of following in Asa's footsteps.

And all of us can learn from his error.

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