Friday, October 23, 2015

The Road to Bear Heaven. . .

Years ago Jackie and I were driving in the mountains of West Virginia looking for a camp site. We finally found one at the top of a mountain in the Bear Heaven recreation area. The road to the mountain, was just a one lane trail, more than a proper road. There was no way that two cars could pass on this very narrow twisting dirt path around the mountain. As a flatlander, I distinctly remember white-knuckling the steering wheel, as we navigated the switchbacks up the side of this mountain. I told Jackie, that if we met someone coming the other way, that I was going to get out of the car and throw my keys over the side of the mountain, so that I could not be forced to back my way down the mountain.

It was a new experience. It was very scary. . . very uncomfortable to me. I imagine that the locals, people who navigated roads like that regularly, found no big discomfort in that situation at all, but to me it raised my heart rate, and blood pressure, about the same as if I was being chased by a bear or some other life threatening situation. But realistically. . . logically, there was little danger in creeping along the side of a mountain at 5 mph. In absolute terms, I was in far greater danger, on the well paved state highway, with the 55 mph posted speed limit. . . passing within a few feet of opposing traffic going 55 mph in the other direction.

110 mph of speed differential between two cars or a car and an 18 wheeler, means pretty certain grave injury or death in a headon collision. I have to have faith in an unknown driver, not to be drunk or high or texting on their phone, or distracted by children, my tires not blowing out, or my brakes failing or etc. etc. etc. It happens every day, that people are killed on a well paved road from headon collision accidents, and I think it is very very very rare that someone dies by sliding down the side of a mountain in West Virginia creeping along at 5 mph.

Yet the unfamiliarity of the one situation, and the familiarity of the other situation caused me to evaluate the risks in totally different ways. A way of stating this might be, that the familiarity of a risk, doesn’t lessen its potential danger to you. A familiar deadly danger, becomes no less deadly merely because it is familiar.

As an atheist I loudly proclaimed my disbelief in God. If there was no God, then there was no judgement and there certainly was no hell. There was no code of morality to follow. If I did good, it was merely my decision to do good. . . a completely altruistic act, with no consequences outside of itself, likewise if I decided to do bad, it was an act which stood alone without connection to anything outside of itself.

But once God revealed Himself to me, then everything that I did was connected to me, and to God and to my future. That was a considerable change in viewpoint to me. I knew the difference between right and wrong. I just didn’t figure, that it made any real difference, therefore I did as I wanted, and didn’t give too much thought about it afterwards.

So therefore, I can understand someone who doesn’t believe in God, doing wrong. I get that. The mystery to me, is those who profess to believe in God, but do wrong in spite of that belief. Somehow they have convinced themselves that it doesn’t really matter to God how they live their lives. That God is a God of love only, and not a God of judgment. They can continue to lie, steal, commit adultery, etc. etc. etc., and when they stand before Him at the time of judging, they imagine that He will overlook all that, and He will say, “We done my good and faithful servant”. . . even though they have been neither good, nor faithful, nor His servant in the way they have lived their lives.

Matthew 25:21
His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.

The Bible is God’s Word. It is given to us for instruction, and it is clear that God does forgive, but it is just as clear that He expects us after that forgiving, to “Go and sin no more” (John 8:11), as Jesus told the woman caught in the act of adultery. Sin is to be repented of. . . to be turned away from, not to be accepted. . . it must be fought within us every day. . . every hour of every day. . . Yes we will occasionally stumble, but we don’t remain there. We rise up. We brush ourselves off. We tell God how sorry we are for disappointing Him, and we go back to living for God.

Sin is death. It is also very familiar, but that does not detract anything from its lethality. As a flatlander, the edge of a West Virginia mountain cliff scared the willies out of me, but in all likelihood that cliff has been there for 1000’s of years in the past, and will remain there for more uncountable 1000’s of years into the future. But the edge between life and death that I walk upon each day, with every heartbeat and every breath, will with certainty give way into the abyss one day in the near future. A bus can hit me tomorrow. A heart attack may strike me in the next hour, or I may die in my sleep 10 years from now, but it is coming, and I must be ready for it.

Again. . . I beg you, do not let yourselves be deceived. Sin is death, therefore flee from it. . .

I love you my God. . .
Thank you for making a way for me. . .
Thank you for saving me. . .


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