Two men have been lost and walking through the woods for a number of days. They’ve run out of food a few days ago and they drank the last of their water 18 hours ago. Both men are tired from the ordeal wondering if they will ever find their way back or at least get rescued. Having gone so long without water all the while traipsing up and down the hills has made both of them really thirsty. As they try to get their bearings and figure out where they need to go they stumble upon an old hunters shack nestled among the trees along the side of a hill. They hurry inside hoping to find some food and water only to find an old gallon jar ¾ full of water. One man is very excited because they now have some water to drink that could help sustain them a couple more days, but the other man doesn’t see it the same way. He finds himself wondering how stale the water is, whether or not there is any bacteria in it that could cause them to get sick, and concerned that it’s not full.
For one man, he just naturally sees the positive in the situation and rejoices in it, recognizing the big blessing this ¾ full jar is, not thinking about how it could be bad. The second man realizes the water is a blessing, but he’s more concerned about how that water could negatively impact them if they drink it. One man is excited that his life can be sustained a little longer as they try to get back to home base, but the second man is more concerned that his life might be shortened if he drinks the only thing that could possibly sustain them. Two men in exactly the same predicament, but two men with vastly different ways of viewing their situation and life itself.
I think about the Christians in the early church and the persecution they had to endure for the sake of Jesus, persecution that at times inflicted great pain to them physically and often times even cost them their lives. I wonder how they looked at their situations. Did they look at them the way the first man in our story did, or did they look at them the way the second man did? Personally, I think the second man would have had a very hard time going through that persecution because his focus was more on the “what if’s”. The first person would probably be stronger because he focused on the positives, knowing that as Christ suffered for us he would consider it an honor to suffer for Him, and also because he would know that in a short while he would finally be with Jesus.
Christians have been persecuted for their faith ever since its inception on the Day of Pentecost. This is nothing new, though it may be new for us in America where we once were known as a Christian nation. Even Jesus was persecuted for the message He brought to humanity, a message of hope, love, grace, forgiveness and life eternal. As we see our country distancing itself more and more from Biblical Christianity, and even becoming more and more hostile towards Christians and the Biblical standards we seek to adhere to, Christians are coming under fire here unlike any other time in this nation’s history. As Christians we are faced with a situation where our response is very important, and our perception to these times will play a significant part in how we deal with them. Are we concerned about how people will view us or what they may do? Are we focusing on how others may take advantage of us or turn what we think is good into something that will end up being bad for us? Or do we trust God that He has us covered and will take care of us no matter what may or may not happen?
As we watch and prepare for the very soon return of Christ for the Church, we need to be mindful of what way in which we view the situations in our life and the world around us. While we may know that things are only going to get worse until the tribulation period comes to an end, we need to make sure our perception of things and how we respond to them will strengthen us and not sap us of our strength and energy. One way of knowing the condition of your heart is to ask yourself what your initial response to the above story was, not the response after your initial response. It’s important to note your initial responses to situations as that often times reveals what is truly in your heart. A lot of times we can have our initial response within ourselves only to quickly change that once our mind engages and takes another look at things, but what is in our heart is usually seen in our initial responses.
If you find that your initial responses tend to be more like the second man in our story than the first man, then you really need to ask God to help change your heart more into what the first man in our story portrays. In fact, you’ll find that life is much more relaxed and enjoyable when you do than if your heart and initial responses are like the second man. The second man is caught up in “what if’s”, worry and doubt, bound up such that he will miss the blessings and joys of life God is trying to bless him with. God doesn’t want you to be like the second man, so He’s more than willing and able to help change that in your heart, if you will allow Him to and follow His lead no matter what that might entail.
There’s a popular commercial on TV that asks a simple question, “what’s in your wallet?” Similar to this question I have to ask you this, “what’s in your heart?” It’s a simple question that packs quite a punch when carefully and honestly considered.