This past week I spent a lot of time “riding on the high places of the earth.” Well, actually I was just standing on the roof of the Main House painting some of the dormers, but the view was magnificent. What was not so magnificent was the company in that particular location–many wasps, a few loud bumblebees, and a couple of angry-sounding hornets. All of them were buzzing near my head, but I couldn’t easily terminate them because I was balancing precariously on shingles and holding a bucket of white paint in my left hand. Anyone who has painted knows that shingles and paint (especially white paint) are a deadly combination. Once there is a spill, it’s all over.
So, what did I do? I had a few options. Stop painting and swat at the bees. Quit the job and try to spray the nests later that night. Or…I could just keep on going and finish the job. Since it was early in the season and the nests were hidden (and the bees not too aggressive) I went with option C. I had a vision for beautiful white dormers done by the weekend, and I was pursuing it. So…I gritted my teeth, occasionally winced or ducked, and kept working. By the grace of God, I didn’t fall off the roof, I didn’t spill any paint, and I didn’t get stung.
As I reflected on this experience, I realized how much fear was playing a part in my thinking. I was naturally afraid of falling since the dormers were near the edge of the roof, I was also afraid of bees–having been allergic to them when I was younger. I was also afraid of spilling paint on the brand new shingles and looking at a white patch for the next 25 years which would remind me of my incompetence every time I saw it. So…there was fear on many levels, but competing against that fear was Vision. I had a mental picture of transforming ugly, peeling dormers into something that looked brand new and was a glory to God. That Vision kept my fears from dictating my actions, and the job was finished successfully.
So, what does painting have to do with the Sabbath? The six days of the work week are busy, stressful, and sometimes dangerous. We sometimes find negative thoughts buzzing about our heads like bees, or despairing “what-if” scenarios robbing our joy and hope. “What if I really fall off this roof?” “What if I spill this entire gallon of paint? Or…”What if a loved one gets seriously ill?” Or…”What if I lose my job?” Or…”What if a horrible bill gets passed into law?” If we let our minds drift down those roads, we can end up in very dark places.
And so, we must cling to the Vision. And the Vision must be big. A vision of a nice paint job is too small. A vision for my own family’s happiness is better, but it’s still too small. A vision for a national revival is even better, but that’s too small. The only Vision that will sustain the weight of living in a fallen world is a Vision of the risen Christ, of His Coming Kingdom, of the Day when every knee bows and every tongue confesses. That’s a Vision worth living for, and something that big and that beautiful will keep us through the darkest days. After all, when Jesus is reigning on earth, the curse will be gone forever, and all the bees in the world will lose their stings. Who knows, maybe even the law of gravity will be temporarily suspended from time to time, and falling paint cans will float away like balloons.
So how do we keep that Vision alive? One way is to honor the Sabbath day. We can stop our working and our worrying, and just rest in the knowledge that everything is going to turn out All Right in the end. We can experience this day of rest as a glorious foretaste of the Millennial Rest to come. It is vital for our spirits that we do this. Stopping every seven days to breathe deeply the sweet air of the Victory to come gives us the strength to press on for the new week. In the meantime, there is sometimes blood, sweat, and even tears. But in the end, it will all fade away into a distant memory. There is a great hope ahead. The Sabbath helps us to hold it close to our hearts.
So, as this Sabbath begins for you, let the fears and the doomsday scenarios fade away. Sit back, take a deep breath of Sabbath air. Know that God is for you. Know that God is in you. Know that God is coming back to reign over you. As we let our minds dwell on these truths, we will truly ride “on the high places of the earth” far above roofs, far above paint, and most definitely far above bees.
Riding with you.