Saturday, January 10, 2015

Beware of Scenic Overlooks

Photo Gary Halvorson Oregon State Archives 2006

In this dream I had to reach holy ground where I would collect priceless treasure. The path to the prize was a maze with the holy place in the center, and each leg of the maze was a narrow corridor hewn into an underground cave.

The design of the maze was deceptively simple – it was just three sides of a square. At each corner was a brightly lit torch, but the sides of the square were long enough so that the light became progressively dim as I left the corner and traveled toward the middle of each side. Then my path became increasingly illuminated as I approached the next corner.

Also at each corner was a smaller, winding, rocky path leading along the diagonal of the square toward the center. After a long, arduous hike to the first corner, I approached the first of these byways. I cautiously ventured out along it and was thrilled by the view – I could see straight down to gleaming piles of gold and jewels heaped up in the center of the cave. At last I had the prize clearly in my sights, which gave me second wind for the rest of the journey.

I was so excited that I nearly lost my balance, which would have been disastrous as I would have tumbled down the rocks into the precipice and plunged to my death. Once I regained my footing and came to my senses, I stumbled back along the crooked path to the corner of the maze, only to find myself confused and dazed.

Which way should I go? The design of the maze could not be easier – just follow the three sides of the square, and then I assumed there would be a path leading directly to the treasure. But the torch light now blinded me; I was unsure of how much time had passed during my detour down the rocky path; and even worse, I did not know which direction to proceed along the maze.

I chose one path, only to discover a long time later that I had gone the wrong way, and was now back to where I had entered the maze. Tired and discouraged, I turned around and plodded again to the first corner, where at least now I was wise enough not to journey down to the scenic overlook.

After that I used the torch lights at each corner as my guideposts, helping me to measure how many sides of the square I had traveled. I resisted the temptation to check out the view below by taking the winding paths to the center. But each time as I left the reassuring glow of the torch to start the next leg of the journey, my spirits fell as the light grew dim, and I wished I could once more have a glimpse of the prize.

Finally the torch from the last corner came into view, and I found that once again I faced a difficult choice. There was an easy, wide path leading down, which presumably would take me to the gold and jewels that had motivated me along the journey. And there was a steep, circular, stone staircase leading up, with no visible reward in sight.

Suddenly I realized that the gold and jewels were merely a distraction keeping me from the true reward, which was the high, holy ground where I would meet my Saviour face to face! The worldly prize was visible and tantalizing, misdirecting me from my true destination. I could not see Him, but by keeping the eyes of my heart fixed on Him, I had the faith to follow Him as He led me in the right direction and to my promised reward.

As I awoke, I remembered that once we are born again by placing our faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus (1 Corinthians 15:1-4), we walk by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7). We walk.in Him (Colossians 2:6), and in His Spirit (Galatians 5:16,25) Who enters our heart at the moment of salvation (2 Corinthians 1:22; Ephesians 1:13).

The path to Him is narrow but straight (Matthew 7:13) and simple, not convoluted, for He is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:5-6). There are three steps along the path to entering His holy ground: realize we are sinners (Romans 3:23), turn away from our sins (Matthew 9:13; 2 Corinthians 7:10), and trust Him as our Lord and Saviour (2 Corinthians 3:4; Acts 15:11; 16:31; Ephesians 1:12-13; Philippians 3:20).

Yet even the disciples who walked with Jesus during His earthly ministry sometimes faltered in their faith (Luke 22:31,34; John 20:25), and our journey is in many ways more difficult because we have not directly seen, heard or touched Him.

But we are more blessed because we believe and follow without seeing (John 20:29). When we feel lost in the darkness, we should not despair, give up, or turn back, because we have the light of His Word illuminating our path (Job 29:3; Psalm 18:28; 119:105). He is the Light of the world (John 8:12), and as His light shines through us, we are also the light of the world (Matthew 5:14).

Of course, Satan takes advantage of our inability to see Jesus Christ directly by tempting us with highly visible, spiritually empty rewards that appeal to the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16). But these are just scenic overlooks that can waste our time, create spiritual roadblocks, and even endanger us physically.

Sometimes Satan even uses these scenic overlooks to take away physical life before someone can be saved or complete God’s plan for their life. He has plucked away the lives of teenagers who fell to their death as they tried to take a “selfie” by a dangerous waterfall or precipice. The pleasures of sin only last a short while (Hebrews 11:25) before they bring forth disastrous physical as well as spiritual consequences (Romans 6:23).  

It is natural when we have experienced a great victory, spiritual or otherwise, to want to bask in the glow of the mountaintop experience. When Peter saw Christ’s glory in His transfiguration, he wanted to prolong the moment by building tabernacles for Jesus, Moses and Elijah (Matthew 17:1-6). It is good to enjoy God’s blessings (Psalm 34:8), to thank and praise Him for what He has done through us (1 Chronicles 16:34; Psalm 30:4; 92:1), and to seek His direction for the future (Proverbs 3:6; 16:9).

Doing that prevents intense rebound distress after great victory, like that experienced by Elijah, whom God used to defeat the prophets of Baal in a powerful display of His glory (1 Kings 18). But then Elijah succumbed to fear and depression, thinking that Jezebel would destroy him and that no one would be left to worship God (1 Kings 19:4-16).

Rest in God after spiritual victory is good, but if we spend too much time with our head in the clouds, we may fail to complete the earthly mission God has planned for us.  Even faithful, productive believers such as David can be diverted from their true purpose by scenic overlooks.

After his triumph in battle, David should have continued the good fight (2 Timothy 4:7) by leading his troops and setting a good example. Instead, he took time off, went home, got bored, wandered out on the roof on a hot summer night, and fell in lust with the beautiful view of Bathsheba bathing (2 Samuel 11:1-3).

Lust led to adultery, deceit, murder (2 Samuel 11:4-17), and then the consequences of his sin – the death of his firstborn by Bathsheba (2 Samuel 12: 18), and family strife for many years to come. If David had the luxury of a do-over, he may well have decided to forego the scenic overlook and to get back to God’s business.

May we keep or eyes fixed on the Prize – our true reward of eternity with Jesus Christ! May our journey shape us into His image, reflecting His perfect light, without wandering into worldly detours that can become deep ditches or even an early grave!


© 2015 Laurie Collett
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30 comments:

  1. Replies
    1. Thanks, you too! Thanks for your comment & for following. God bless you!
      Laurie

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  2. Great insights, Laurie. I have a lot of vivid dream as well, and I love when the Holy Spirit gives me insight as to their meaning. I also read your bio---you have a very interesting life!

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    1. Thanks so much, Mary, for your lovely comment! My husband and I are truly blessed by the many ministry opportunities and experiences God has entrusted to us. Praise God that He speaks to His children in so many ways -- notably His Word, and sometimes in dreams!
      Many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  3. What a dream, and it really does remind me of how important it is to keep my eyes fixed on what is important.

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    1. Dear Heidi,
      Thanks so much for your comment! May we keep our priorities straight and put Him first in all things.
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  4. Dear Laurie,
    Your dream of the tunnel was very interesting, even though I was somewhat puzzled by the three-sided square, which has given me the impression of a right-angled triangle. But more important, God used the dream to speak to you, a wonder of his grace.
    This has also brought to mind the journey I made in 1995 through Hezekiah's Tunnel, just south of East Jerusalem. Just as you needed the corner lights to guide your way through, so I waded through the tunnel holding a lighted candle. This has reminded me of Jesus being the Light of the world to guide us through otherwise thick darkness.
    An excellent post. God bless.

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    1. Dear Frank,
      The maze was built along 3 sides of a square, with a right angle at each corner. If all 4 sides had been present, the end would have been in the same place as the beginning.
      I've always been fascinated by Hezekiah's Tunnel -- that must have been a wonderful experience to traverse it, lit by a candle and calling to mind Jesus as the Light of the world. I love how he speaks to His children not only through His Word, but also through dreams and waking experiences, if we are attentive to listen.
      Thanks as always for your supportive comment, and God bless,
      Laurie

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  5. Beautiful description of the maze that eventually led you back to God, who you were seeking the whole time. Keeping our eyes focused on Him will always lead us in the right direction. Blessed you shared at The Weekend Brew.

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    1. Thank you for your lovely comment and for hosting. Praise God that He will lead us to Himself, if we seek His face.
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  6. Amen Laurie,
    the ' treasures ' of this world are only good for the amount of time we are in this world, but our 'treasure' is for eternity.
    God bless

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    1. So true, Brenda -- may we not overlook the eternal while pursuing the temporal. He is all we need!!
      Love in Christ,
      Laurie

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  7. We must not rest on our laurels! We need to keep fixing our eyes on Jesus or we will get distracted, just like a little child. Thank you for putting these wonderful devotions together for us women. May the Lord bless you richly!

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    1. Amen, Jacqueline! May we focus on Him and His perfect will for our life, and not waster time and resources on needless distractions! I really appreciate your encouragement -- may God bless you richly too!
      Laurie

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  8. The maze of life is never perfectly revealed, but in your dream, you became aware that the earthly treasures were a distraction and might keep you from the true treasure of meeting Jesus face to face. I loved your dream and the interpretation of it as you shared it here at "Tell me a Story."

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    1. Thanks so much, Hazel! You are always a blessing through your blog, hosting, and encouragement.
      May you have a blessed week in Him,
      Laurie

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  9. Wow, Laurie. What a beautiful and clear image The Spirit gave you about distraction and real treasure and the gift of His presence. I love the way He speaks to us in dreams, and I am so grateful you linked it with Unforced Rhythms.

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    1. Dear Beth,
      I am blessed by your lovely comment and the opportunity to share this post at Unforced Rhythms. Praise God that He still speaks to His children in so many different ways!
      Love in Christ,
      Laurie

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  10. Thanks for this powerful writing!

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    1. Thank you, Ariella, for your kind comment! God bless,
      Laurie

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  11. Keep our eyes up and focused on finding Him. The best route always leads to His truth. So many great lessons today. Thanks for sharing. ;)

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    1. Amen, Mary -- may we keep looking up, for our redemption is near! Thanks so much for your lovely comment, and may you have a blessed weekend in Him!
      Laurie.

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  12. Thanks for your sweet words of wisdom and for sharing your devotion on the Thursday Blog Hop!

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    1. Thanks, Pam, for hosting and for your encouragement!
      Many blessings to you,
      Laurie

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  13. Thank you for sharing at Mommy Moments last week! This post was the top viewed link and will be featured in the link up today :)

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    1. Awesome! Thanks so much for the feature & for hosting -- I'm blessed and honored, and I linked up again this week!
      God bless,
      Laurie

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  14. Hi Laurie, Thanks so much for linking this beautiful post at Counting My Blessings!

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    1. Thanks, Deb, for hosting & for your lovely comment! May you have a blessed week in Him!
      Laurie

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  15. Hi, Laurie, I'm stopping by from Grace and Truth link-up. What an interesting dream you had! I like what you said at the end about keeping our eyes fixed on the prize. We must rely on the Holy Spirit to guide us - to tell us when to rest, when to press forward, etc. Thanks for sharing with us!
    Jen :)

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    1. Thanks, Jen, for hosting & for your lovely comment! May we follow the still, small voice of the Holy Spirit to fulfill His perfect plan for our life.
      May you have a blessed weekend!
      Laurie

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