Thursday, April 24, 2008

Under the Fig Tree

I enjoy traveling. There is something invigorating about leaving the familiar and venturing into unknown. I have gotten the chance to do some traveling in my lifetime so far. From Sandusky, OH, to Dallas, TX, to San Diego and Anaheim, CA to Mexico, both the east and west sides of Canada and the Bahamas. I've traveled a lot, mostly on family vacations and trips between Florida and Michigan. I have been able to see some cool landmarks, like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, and Niagara Falls in Ontario. I even got to view Seattle from high atop the Space Needle, and hiked around Mt. Rainier with my dad. I have been fortunate enough to see some neat places around the country, and even a few foreign countries. Those represented some fun times for me. One was even a spiritual blessing on a mission trip in the Bahamas. I've also let my feet tread in places I had no business going, like bars, clubs and even adult-oriented places.

But, my travels haven't simply been of a physical nature. Sadly, I have allowed my mind, my thoughts, and even my beliefs to wander into areas that I had no business going. I have allowed my thoughts to bring me to places that were harmful, areas of thinking where I not only let my guard down spiritually, but practically handed the devil a foothold in my life. Things like meditation, hypnosis, new age spiritism. And, I am ashamed to admit it, but I have allowed my mind, thoughts, and even my actions to drift into more perverse areas like pornography and sexual immorality. Suffice it to say, I've been around the block a few times in my nearly 33 years on this planet.

There is in John's Gospel a passage of scripture that is very sobering to me. Check this out: Jesus is gathering up his followers, and he has really impressed Philip. Philip then found his good friend Nathanael and told him about Jesus of Nazareth. After a bit of apprehension stemming from where Jesus was from, he met the Lord. Let's pick up the passage there:

"Jesus saw Nathanael coming to Him, and said of him, 'Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom there is no deceit!' Nathanael said to Him, 'How do You know me?' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Before Philip called you, when you were under the fig tree, I saw you.' Nathanael answered Him, 'Rabbi, You are the Son of God; You are the King of Israel.' Jesus answered and said to him, 'Because I said to you that I saw you under the fig tree, do you believe? You will see greater things than these.'"

You see, we all know that Jesus wasn't just another joe on the street trying to make a living. He wasn't another average guy like me. He was divine. He was a human being, but he was all God, too. And, something he said to Nathanael here in this chapter shocked and shook him. Not only did Jesus read Nathanael's mail when he called him on his character (which Jesus himself said was good, solid character), he backed up that knowledge when he claimed to have seen him sitting under a tree. Jesus was not there when Philip went calling him. He didn't see where Nathanael was physically. Jesus saw because he is the Lord of Heaven and earth, the one who sees all and knows all. Hence, Nathanael's reaction to him. Not only did he know his actual location, he knew his heart. He didn't just know his physical locale, he knew his heart's locale.

In the field I work in right now, lawn care, some of my company's competitors have put a hidden set of eyes in the trucks. In order to keep track of their technicians, some have put both GPS and video cameras on board. So, now the employee has to watch what he does, and do an honest day's work, because he is being watched. If he decides to blow off work and just drive around, he'll be caught. If he just sits and sleeps in his truck, he'll get caught. There is always an eye watching. So much for picking your nose in private!

In the same way, we have an all-seeing eye watching us at all times. God is always watching. And, not only does he see where our feet carry us physically, he sees where our thoughts carry us. He sees what goes on in our mind. Just listen to David in Psalm 139.

"O LORD, You have searched me and known me. You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. Even before there is a word on my tongue, Behold, O LORD, You know it all." vs. 1-4

There is no escaping it. You can run, but you can't hide. You have been tagged by Heaven's GPS. Call it God's Positioning System. Call it Glory's Placement Satellite. God is watching you. Every step, every place, every thought. A heavenly TIVO is recording your life, inside and out. Spooky, kind of. I mean, those things we do in the dark of night, in the secret place of our minds, God sees.

Hey, but let's remember that this works both ways. It's real easy to talk about God's all-seeing eye and all-knowing mind when it comes to the bad stuff we do. But look at Nathanael's case. Look at what Jesus said to him. "Behold, an Israelite indeed, in whom is no deceit!" I like that word, deceit. The Greek word used is dolos. It means a trick, or even decoy. Jesus was reading Nathanael's character and soundly proclaimed that this was the real deal. There was no fakeness here. In my work at fancy golf course subdivisions, I often see decorative decoy ducks floating in the ponds. They have been known to trick me, they were so life-like. But there was no tricking Jesus-Nathanael was the real thing.

You know, sometimes we mess up. We fall down. But, Jesus knows our hearts. He knows how we long to please him. He knows that at times, in this flesh we have to live in, we fall off the horse occasionally. Proverbs 24:16a says, "For a righteous man falls seven times, and rises again". I fell at work the other day and rolled my ankle. It's a pretty good sprain. But I got back up. When we fall, the Lord expects us to get up and keep going. When we jump up and pursue after the Lord, we are demonstrating that we long for the Lord to touch us, to purify us.

Yes, the Lord is watching us. He most certainly has seen every aspect of our lives, and yet he loves us. He has seen the movie of our lives, and he still pursues us. His people with him and loving him are the "joy set before him", as Hebrews says. So, look up. Press on, because you have a Savior in Heaven who is cheering you on!

God bless!

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