Thursday, May 26

Nothing to Sneeze At

Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit. --Ezekiel 18:31a

I'm always amazed at the way God has designed the human body. It is no accident that he made us to function in the way that we do. I believe that we can understand Him more completely by studying the ways in which he has designed our bodies to function. Although the things we observe in nature and biology may not always give us concrete answers about the nature of God, they may sometimes serve as a bit of a metaphor. Consider for example, a sneeze.
A sneeze is an example of the way our bodies respond to an invasion or irritation. For example, if something were to become lodged in our nasal passages, it could lead to a nasty infection. Because our sinuses are connected to our lung via our windpipe, a large enough obstruction could pose a choking risk. A good powerful sneeze is the body's natural way to forcefully expel the offending material.

God is also a powerful force, especially when he passes judgment. He has ways of getting our attention when there are things we are doing that are not conducive to a healthy spiritual life. Just as it takes a violent sneeze to clear our airways of harmful pathogens, a strong, possibly unpleasant circumstance may be what God allows to serve as a form of his judgment. Sometimes He allows bad things to happen or he takes away something from us in order that we may be given a new heart and a new spirit, free from influences that may tempt us to sin.

I once knew a guy who practically worshipped his pickup truck. It had a personalized license plate, a custom paint job, fancy name it. He spent more time with his pickup than he did going to class, studying or attending Bible study. He would frequently go on road trips because it gave him a chance to enjoy being in his truck. This led to further absences from class; his grades inevitably dropped and he was at risk of being kicked out of the school. In the meantime, he had drained his bank account to pay for new items for his pickup, and began to slip further away from having a meaningful relationship with God.

That's when God allowed a "life sneeze".

Speeding home from a friend's house one evening, he ran a stop light in that beautiful truck. He was broadsided by the cross-traffic, and rolled the vehicle. His life was spared, but the truck was totaled. Because he hadn't been to classes or Bible study in quite awhile, no one even notices his absence at first. When he returned to campus, he was a much more somber fellow, struggling with depression because he believed that everything he lost was God's fault. He blamed his bad grades, lack of friends, empty bank account, all of it, on God. Eventually he came to realize that God had allowed the accident to happen in order that he would get his priorities realigned. It took quite some time, but eventually he returned to Bible study and developed a stronger relationship with God. Without the truck to soak up so many aspects of his life, he was allowing God to give him a new heart and a new spirit.

God used that event, as unpleasant and painful as it was, to get that young man's attention. The action was quite possibly the only way that his life was going to be rid of the offense of ranking possessions more highly than God. The accident functioned as a sneeze--it got rid of the very thing that threatened his spiritual life.

Although not everything bad that happens is an act of God's judgment, I think we should consider each trial or loss as God's way of getting our attention. Even if we think our relationship with Him is as healthy as it could be, we need to be certain that we are not doing anything to jeopardize our relationship with Him. It is important that we root ourselves firmly in Christ long before life deals us a violent blow. Don't let a "life sneeze" knock you off your feet.

And by the way...God bless you!



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