Do you trust the LORD more than you trust your own eyes?
I believe a dangerous line of thinking has a stronghold on many Christians. You've heard the clever joke about the man who wouldn't get in the boat, or the helicopter or the car because he wanted a miracle from God, to save him from a flood. When the man drowns, he asks God why He didn't save him from the flood, once he enters heaven. God says to him, "I sent you a car, I sent you a boat ... " etc. Is it a bad story? In some respects, no, it is not. However, I hear Christians tell this story to one another as practical advice to live by.
Looking deep into the point of the story, it clearly shows itself as man-made, secular philosophy and not gospel to govern our lives by. The story would have us believe that we are perfectly capable of making our own decisions and to trust our common, man-made senses and to do otherwise is foolishness! Clearly, in the story, there is no communication with the LORD until after death and that is the furthest thing from the truth.
Like many Christians, unfortunately, the man in story didn't have enough of a relationship with the LORD to know that the LORD speaks and He speaks clearly beforehand. The LORD calls us to what He wants us to do and how He wants us to proceed. He orders our steps because we can not trust ourselves: our perception and our knowledge is limited. Not only that, but there is an Enemy who loves to twist and pervert the truth, only showing you one side without the other. The story is correct about one thing (although not by intention) : If we are not in communication with the LORD to know what He plans for us, we are sunk.
The Gospel, unlike any man-made story I have ever read, routinely says something opposite of what sounds sensible to the secular mind. We've all heard the phrase, "Who are you going to believe, me, or your lying eyes?" Once more, one of those clever, intellectual, secular sayings that has the sole purpose of making you feel you are in control; you are the decision-maker. The secular world tells you to believe it only when you see it; only trust in reason, knowledge and things you can hold in your two hands. The Word of the LORD tells differently.
Consider the early Hebrews on the exodus from Egypt. The LORD clearly (and repeatedly) spoke to the Hebrews and promised to free them from bondage and deliver them into another land ( Exodus 6:6-8, 32:13, 33:1 ). More than that, He promised if they obeyed His commands, they would live free of illness, free of still births and miscarriages ( Exodus 23:25,26 ). If you get right down to it, His promise to the Hebrews was awesome ... almost unbelievable: in many ways, a heaven on earth.
Contrary to the story I mentioned earlier, the LORD told the Hebrews the land they were going to was already inhabited by other nations, whom the LORD had rejected and planned to throw out ( Exodus 23:27-29 33:2 34:11, ). Israel didn't have to have a meeting about it, or plan it, or even debate it. It was told to them beforehand and the LORD promised He would drive out the Amorites, Canaanites, Perrizities, Hittites, Jebusites and Hivites. The LORD promised the Hebrews victory long before they ever set foot in the promised land.
Like so many of us today, like the story and the cliché suggests, the Hebrews were far too sure of their own intelligence to trust the LORD. They led their lives and their faith based on what they could see and feel; how it looked and how it seemed. They were, in a word, "reasonable" people.
What was the result of all that reasoning? When the end of the journey came, the LORD instructed Moses to send twelve men to survey the promised land. (Number 13:1,2) Of those twelve, ten of the men came back fearful and afraid. "Who are you going to believe, Me, or your lying eyes?" For those Hebrews, they chose to believe their lying eyes. (Number 13:27-29, 13:31-33)
The saw that they were outnumbered and the people were physically taller and stronger than they. They saw all the reasonable things secular philosophy tells us is important and intelligent to consider, before acting upon. When the spies told the rest of the Hebrews, the entire camp was ready to give up and go back to being slaves in Egypt. As a matter of fact, they complained against the LORD and Moses for even bringing them out there! (Number 14:1-4)
Only two men, Joshua, the Son of Nun and Caleb, the son of Jephunnah trusted the LORD more than they trusted their eyes. More than that, they saw what the LORD saw: the good and plentiful land ahead of them. And the giants? They gave no thought to it ... they were completely confident the LORD would give the Hebrews victory as He had promised. (Numbers 14:6-10)
Two men out of twelve.
Two men out of twelve.
If you like statistics, that's 17% of men who would identify themselves as a "godly person".
Can we, presently, as Christians, say our average is any more impressive, when cling to man-made stories about a guy and a boat, rather than cling to the gospel?
And what did all that reasoning and knowledge earn the camp of Israel? They were kept out of the promised land entirely. The LORD commanded all of them to die in wilderness, as they had been complaining that they would the entire trip. (Numbers 14:20-23) All of them, except Joshua and Caleb.
So here is another statistic for you: It's estimated that close to 2 million men, women and children left Egypt on the journey to the promised land. Out of those two million people, only two obtained and enjoyed the promise the LORD set aside from them.
Two out of two million.
Present day religion has most of us fooled into thinking that we can perpetually and intentionally ignore the LORD without repercussions and that is the furthest thing from the truth as well. Our standard is not what we see with our two eyes; it's not what we guess; it's not what sounds reasonable or sounds intelligent. Our standard is what He has personally spoken to us. If you don't know what the LORD has to say about it, then your first priority is to find out.
Even Christ confirms this in the New Testament (since many think it's not applicable unless it's in the NT). Christ said that if your eye causes you to stumble, then pluck it out. It's better to enter in having only one eye, than having the entire body thrown into hell. (Matt 5:29, 18:9, Mark 9:47)
Isn't that what happened with the Hebrews? Their eyes lied to them; it caused them fear because of how it "looked" and most importantly, their eyes told them something opposite of what the the LORD had spoken to them. That alone should prove that your eyes can and will lie to you.
Because they kept that lying eye, they were kept out of the promised land entirely ... wondering around the desert for the next forty years until each of them died off.
I write on this because I have been there. This isn't just a nice, feel good thing to say, but something I've had to recently battle.
I'd written previously that the LORD laid a belief on my heart that hasn't shaken since. For at least a year, I wasn't even sure if it was the LORD or the desire of my own heart, but as I have grown in my relationship with Him, it's become unquestionable that this is from the LORD. There's no doubt at all.
But, the Enemy really hates that and so, as one should expect, I had to face a situation today where ultimately it came down to, "Who are you going to believe, Me, or your lying eyes?". I know how tempting it is to indulge; to whine and complain as the Hebrews did; to forget all the miracles that have happened up to this day and say "It can't be the LORD, this is too hard."
I know how hard it can be to stand up and say, " I don't care how it looks to myself, my friends, my feelings or anything else. I know what the LORD has said and it is Him that I trust." If I have to close my eyes completely and stop looking at it, I will not let my focus be moved from Him.
That's improvement, for me.
Someone ought to re-write that stupid joke, in a way that matches the truth shown in His Word:
In this new story, the man loves the LORD and knows Him. It is the LORD who tells the man He will deliver him from flood if he waits patiently. When the car comes by, the LORD tells him to ignore it. Later down the road, outside the man's awareness, the same car that seemed like a solution at the time, breaks down and it's occupants never make it out of town.
Soon a raft comes by and after prayerful communication, the man knows that is not the LORD's deliverance either, so he waits. More time passes and a power boat and helicopter go by, but the man waits for the LORD to tell him which to choose. The LORD knows that, although they look like a solution in the moment, the end of all those vehicles are destruction.
The waters continue to rise, up to the man's waist, then his chest, even up to his neck ---- all with no sign from the LORD but his spoken promise for safe deliverance. And just when the water threatens to drown the man, deliverance comes by the LORD's personal hand. In the end, he is the only one to survive.
That is how the story should go, if you ask me.