EXCERPT FROM THE SHORT STORY, “The Old Man and the Camera Who Was Brought to Life”:
“Yes! Having life brings me pain, but it also brings me love, failure, forgiveness and acceptance. Before, I could only do what you made me do, but now, I can work WITH you. You and I share together the joy of the pictures that come out the way you planned. Now, I can fail, but I also know that I can always TRY, again and again.”
When you’re disappointed at yourself, mad at yourself for failing or even letting God down, you wonder why He gave you the power of choice. Why did He make you so you could sin, wouldn’t it have been easier if we couldn’t sin and we just automatically did the right thing? The Bible tells us from beginning to end that God loves us and wants to bless us, use us and be in a love relationship with us. He promises good things to those who love and obey Him. From His original gifts to Adam and Eve in the garden, through leading the Children of Israel to the Promised Land, to blessing Jesus and the promise of forgiveness and eternal life, God has shown His good nature. So, how come most Christians aren’t living in their own Promised Land? Why are many of them wandering around in their own private wilderness?
The lesson that God taught his people through their wandering in the wilderness was that, apart from Him, they would never be able to possess land and enjoy the kind of life that He prepared for them. Isaiah 1:19, He told us that, if we wanted to experience the good that He has planned for us on earth, we had to be “willing and obedient.” See, God isn’t an extraterrestrial dictator who wants to be like a camera – having no choice but to do His bidding. He loves us and knows that without Him, we’d be like a camera: Equipped but unable to do anything much worthwhile. That’s why Jesus said, in John 15:5, “I am the vine. Ye are the branches…without me, ye can do nothing.”
Without Jesus, we can’t do anything that’s really worthwhile or long lasting and we just can’t do without Him what He can do in us and through us when we’re in his hands. We need to give up our pride and self-sufficiency and like a camera, we need to stay close to Him and depend on Him. It’s a matter of coming to a place where we stop trying to frantically hold it together ourselves and let Jesus do the work. That’s what Hebrews 4:9-11 are about. “There remains a rest to the people of God. Because he that rest has ceased from his labors, just like God did. Let us then labor, to enter into that rest, lest any of us fall into the trap of unbelief like the children of Israel did.” It’s when we stop trying to do things in our own strength and recognize our own insufficiency that Jesus can really work in us and through us.
We can be “busy for the Lord,” helping others and be in all the meetings, teach Sunday School and be busy serving our families, but we still know thar we can’t save anybody, heal anybody or mend a broken heart the way Jesus can. When we get to the place where we know this, He’ll begin to work through us and that’s when we enter into what the Bible calls our “rest”. That’s where having the power to choose comes in. Temptation is when we have to choose whether to go our own way or God’s way and it triggers the power to choose. We’re like the guy who said, “I wouldn’t have gotten that ticket if my car wasn’t so fast, and if the police hadn’t been taking radar from behind that building. It’s the car’s fault. No, it’s not. It just gave the guy the chance to make a decision, to exercise the power of choice. The power to choose to obey God wouldn’t be a power if there wasn’t the possibility of failure. There would be no victory if there was no equal opportunity to be defeated.
There has to be that moment when you and I are faced with which way we’re going to go – our way or God’s way. There has to be that time when to do the wrong thing seems so easy, sweet and logical that you’re on the verge of trading what God’s given you and has for you for the chance to do your own thing. That’s when you’re able to walk in victory as a friend of God and it’s when you have to do the right thing because it’s the right thing to do. We’ve all heard that saying by our parents and/or guardians when we we’re kids. That wasn’t fun hearing, but it was true when we we’re all kids and it’s still true today. Like the camera that came to life, there’s that moment when it’s time to “flash” where God has to trust us and where we have to choose the right thing. It’s the moment where we make a decision that we are responsible to God and other people. That’s also the moment where we frequently fall and where we’re in God’s presence, unable to hide and discover what we’re really about and we must realize that God isn’t ever surprised by what we do because He knows us inside and out, but sometimes, we’re the surprised ones.
Like that saying, “I surprised myself when I… [passed that math exam].” God already knew you would, He wasn’t surprised, you just didn’t believe or think you could, so when you did pass the math exam, it surprised you. Those are the times where we bow in defeat or glow with the glory of God’s working in us. Those are the moments that link us to the presence of our Savior, knowing that even now, we need Him as much as our Savior as we ever have. Machines don’t have any choices, they just do whatever you ask them to do, nothing more, nothing less. Their existence is simple, but people aren’t like that at all. We’re made in the image of God, Genesis 1:26, and are made to fellowship, or work with Him. That’s what 1 Corinthians 3:9 says. “We are laborers together with Him…” We have pain and struggles that machines never know of, but we also have joy and happiness that machines never know of. The joy of God’s strength being made perfect in our weakness.
We experience the pain of failure, but thank God, also the joy of forgiveness and acceptance that comes when we run to God with our pain and sense of loss. Both pain and the blessings, successes, failures, highs, lows, mountains and valleys are all parts of our walk with God – a relationship with God that only humans can know and share in. Be encouraged. Keep trying even when you’ve failed. You may have been knocked down, but you can always get back up and try again.
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