Household gods of the Old Testament era
“Am I a God near at hand only, not a God when far away?”
In Jeremiah’s time, a god that was close at hand was a pagan god figure you could see and carry around – god in your pocket, if you like. The God of Abraham Isaac and Jacob was ‘far away’ or at least, unseen and only experienced by faith.
When the going gets tough, the tough get going – according to the popular saying. Get going with what? Get going with whom?
Live the Way of Jesus
How we see God is crucial to how we set about this. To live the Way of Jesus means to know Jesus – and know something of how he lived. It’s not a ‘try harder’ challenge but a call to ‘try smarter’. It’s an appeal to faith, to turn to a great God for whom nothing is impossible, and to start praying the kind of prayers that move mountains.
It’s a choice. To ’try harder’ is the more familiar route. We’re being asked to take a more difficult route. To do anything that requires faith, looking up in faith to a Father whose love and purposes are far greater than any ‘impossibility’, is more challenging.
The Trust Passage
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He will make straight your paths.
Be not wise in your own eyes…
“In your own eyes” is a statement of what is seen, just as “on your own understanding” is a statement of what is objectively known. Early in life, we learn to rely on what we see and what we know. It’s a pattern that serves us well – until we come to know Jesus. At that point, faith is the third, and overriding partner. Now we have to unlearn our earlier ways of judgement. Faith requires us to hold lightly what we can see and what we have available as evidence; faith requires us to be free to go into the realm of believing what what seems improbable.
God may seem to be “far away” as our situation doesn’t appear to change and prayer answers seem delayed. What we see, and what we know, read the situation in the present. Faith goes beyond this available evidence and reads into the future. Which do we rely on? Not the ‘comfort zone’ of our understanding, says God’s word.
The Way of Jesus demands that we choose as He would choose. It is the way of faith. It is a choice – often not an easy one, but one that brings the power of heaven to bear.
- What is your default for a way to ‘get going’?
- How do you see God’s good intentions for you? Has the discipline of difficulties and disappointments made you stronger or less sure in this respect?
- How easy or hard do you find it to detach yourself from what you know and can see before you?