Thursday, January 3, 2013

God Picks the Switch

God Picks the Switch


But, beloved, do not forget this one thing, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” – 2 Peter 3:8-10

One of the very few things I dreaded hearing my mom say as a child was “go get me a switch, and it better be a good one!  For those of you who weren’t blessed with this kind of raising a “switch” wasn’t a thing on the wall that turned on the lights, it was a limb from a tree to induce punishment on my behind. 
She wouldn’t give me a hacksaw to cut a “switch” but always insisted I bring back something that looked more like timber than a limb.  I would always bring back the frailest looking limb I could find, and the shortest (less swing power!). 

I remember one time, in a ‘Ralphie Parker’ state of mind, I decided to break the limb ever so gently on only one side several times down the branch.  Then I carefully turned it over so that it would appear to be solid, and handed it to her.  Bad idea.  One strike and it broke into toothpicks!
I had been warned!  I knew better!  The rule was if I didn’t get a good switch, one descent for a good spankin’, then she would go pick one herself.  Ah, she had expert skills at picking switches which I assumed was due to a childhood of experience doing this first hand.  Her switches wouldn’t break for weeks!

The funny thing is that I can now look back and remember the punishment, but I can’t remember what it I did to deserve it.  At the time it was important enough that I felt I should rebel to do it.  But in the end, I guess it wasn’t all that important after all.
But isn’t all sin like that?  We think we just HAVE to do it to be happy.  We struggle to overcome it, knowing its cost.  But given the choice to choose it or lose it, we go right back to it.  Why?  Because we want to.  That’s it.  That’s our reason for all sin.  It’s just our will that gets in the way. 

We are spoiled children in some ways.  God’s mercy endures for so very long sometimes that we don’t feel the punishment coming.  We look around at those that live sin filled lives, and they look happy and they prosper.  But Proverbs 3:12 says that He does correct those that He loves.  He will do what He says.  2 Peter 3:8-10 tells us that His clock doesn’t run like ours.  One day is a thousand years, and a thousand years one day.  He has His own timeline.  It also says He isn’t slack concerning His promise toward us, but is longsuffering.  Longsuffering is the flipside of mercy.  But yet, He is not willing that any should die without Him, and wants all to come to repentance.  Sin has its season, but punishment surely follows!
What we often don’t feel when we’re in the sin season is the approaching coldness of punishment.  In my experiences in running from God’s switch, this is the worst of the punishment.  It’s distance from Him.  Yes, friend, even the saved soul can pull so far away from God as to turn deaf ears to His voice.  But make no mistake…He will use punishment to get your attention.  He will go get a switch! 

James 4:8-10 says, Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners; and purify your hearts, you double-minded. Lament and mourn and weep! Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.  Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.”
These verses are about repenting before God goes to get His own switch.  Turn back to Him with a pure heart of repentance, and stop being double minded with a should-I-stay-or-should-I-go attitude, and it says “He will lift you up”. To be lifted up would mean one of two things.  First, you’ve fallen.  You’re not at the same level you were at before.  Secondly, you are being elevated, brought back to the level you were at, or higher.  This is restoration of the closeness with God.  This is the drawing near. 

No sin has such benefits as to be more valuable to your life than a close relationship with the one in charge of the universe.  While His mercy and longsuffering may be what you see today, you may feel His switch tomorrow.  And when God picks the switch, He knows your tender spot!  Draw near.

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