I’ve never been a superstitious individual. I think black cats are beautiful, I have no problem walking under ladders (unless my husband, Bob, is cleaning the gutters…then I get messy!), and carrying a disembodied rabbit’s foot in one’s pocket is, well…disgusting.
But what if…??
I find it interesting, however, how much superstitious thought creeps into our so-called modern lives without us even knowing it, things that our 21st century minds somehow find acceptable. Unfortunately, such practices can insidiously embed themselves within the framework our spiritual lives as well. It happens when repeated actions that once had significance and meaning become rote and contrived, as in, “if I don’t do this, something bad might happen.”
When that thought occurs, not only are we in danger of locking ourselves in a box, but we unwittingly try to put God in that same box as well.
And as many have discovered, He doesn’t fit. Case in point:
“At that time Israel was at war with the Philistines.”
So what else is new? Would this even make the front page of the Daily anymore?
Martha, where’s Joe?
Oh, he’s out wrestling with the Philistines.
Again? Pass the matzoh, please.
To begin with, (and this is so typical of all of us), I see a problem/dangerous situation/potential hazard, and I set out to “fix it”. Because, clearly, I can identify the problem and the solution. It’s pretty well spelled out, I’ve been down this road a-plenty…
See enemy. Fight enemy.
Only this time,
“The Philistines attacked and defeated the army of Israel, killing 4,000 men. After the battle was over, the troops retreated to their camp, and the elders of Israel asked, ‘Why did the Lord allow us to be defeated by the Philistines?’”
Good question! In fact, excellent step to take. While licking our wounds, we should be asking God what gives.
Only that’s not what they did. They only asked each other. Which means the plan they came up with was simply one God allowed them to have, not the one He would have chosen for them.
Take two, the Israelites were going out again. This time, however, their strategy included taking the revered Ark of the Covenant into the battle with them, plus the two priests who were anything but “holy to the Lord”. (Guess that part didn’t seem overly important, as long as they had that gold-covered box.)
Not wholly unexpected, God’s people suffer even greater losses than before at the hands of the enemy, and on top of that:
“The Ark of God was captured…”
And, typically, the story gets worse before it gets better as God does some tragic but much needed housecleaning.
Unfortunately, I have to wonder how much of this I am prone to today; that is-
Treating the presence of God as a talisman:
- Do I willingly participate in moral compromise as a means to an end, trusting in fabricated faith rather than the One True God?
- Do I arrogantly identify the problem without realizing who the real Enemy is?
- Do I “assume” (a dangerous word, indeed!) the same solution will work, “because it worked last time”?
- Do I neglect to ask God for His vertical direction, (with corresponding time to LISTEN for His response—yeah, I miss that one, too), or simply rely on lateral conversation with others, (which can easily turn into gossip, blaming, bite-biting, and other counterproductive fun stuff.)
Because here’s what can happen—not only can God’s presence in His church become hidden, worse, it can be mocked by the Enemy. Consequently, what was once golden ark starts to look like a dead rabbit’s foot.
We get pretty stinky, and the world can smell it a mile away.
1 Samuel 4:1-3,11 Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved