Earlier this week we explored the subject of Expectations and that the word itself means “looking out” or “forward to.”
Today we will focus on the practice of Looking Beyond, an essential life skill.
Perhaps it has always been a human tendency to “live for now,” make decisions based on immediate pleasure and instant rewards.
“Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die”—the Epicureans said. Life is difficult, so enjoy all the gusto you can right now. “There is no problem so big or so complicated it cannot be run away from.”
Without doubt our society is undeniably “immediate.” We have instant news at our fingertips, instant food we can pick up at a drive-thru and eat in the car on the way to our next destination, instant entertainment once we get there.
Nevertheless, even in this harried age—and perhaps because it is so harried—it remains a wise course of action to consider the ramifications of decisions made today.
“Look beyond” we must.
Look beyond the circumstances.
Often our circumstances can result in our growing disillusioned with our lot in life. Fatigued and disappointed, we may make rash decisions, unless we recognize the circumstances God brings into our lives are of His making and not merely the mistreatment of our “enemies” or “chance happenings.”
Job 1:23. …the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.
At the end of this first chapter of Job where we read about all the disasters and heartaches that descended on him, we read this oft-quoted statement.
Note: Job did not blame the Sabeans or the Chaldeans or the fire or the wind for the loss of his home, possessions, and family.
He—as one author said—”looked beyond the wind to see the hand of God.”
Faith is ever occupied with God. That is the character of it: that is what differentiates it from intellectual theology. Faith endures as “seeing Him who is invisible.” [Hebrews 11:27]: endures the disappointments, the hardships, and the heartaches of life, by recognizing that all comes from the hand of Him who is too wise to err and too loving to be unkind. But so long as we are occupied with any other object than God Himself, there will be neither rest for the heart nor peace for the mind. But when we receive all that enters our lives as from His hand, then, no matter what may be our circumstances or surroundings, we shall be enabled to say, “The lines are fallen unto me in pleasant places [Psalm 16:6]. Arthur W. Pink
The same can be said of Joseph, hated of his brothers, sold into slavery, imprisoned, given up for dead—all part of God’s plan to save His people from the approaching famine.
Looking beyond his brothers’ intentions, Joseph saw God’s hand as surely as Job did.
Genesis 50:20. But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive.
Look beyond the warning signs.
Part of making good decisions with far-reaching positive effects is looking beyond warning signs and considering where your path will ultimately lead.
Not just tomorrow…or next week…or next month…but years from now.
As of this writing the main road I take to turn into my neighborhood is undergoing repairs.
More than a week ago, big orange signs began to appear on the side of the road and in the middle of this road.
“Road closed July 27-August 7.”
Then the signs began to appear in my own neighborhood. “Detour Ahead,” propped up in a neighbor’s yard, and “Detour” at the end of the street with an arrow pointing right.
On July 27, the date we were advised of, I left my house and reached the main road. I looked left. There was the Official Sign. Road Closed.
There was hardly a need. Beyond that sign were two massive bulldozers completely blocking the road. Big hole. Dirt piled. Tree uprooted.
I turned right…of course. And reminded myself, ‘on the way home,’ to go all the way past the usual exit I take, then take the next one and double back.
On this route—the way back to my neighborhood from the opposite direction—are also the same set of signs, along the road and in the middle of the road.
In addition to those, are more signs counting down the “feet ahead.”
Road closed. 1500 feet ahead.
Road closed. 500 feet head.
Road closed. 100 feet ahead.
Big and orange, they are clearly visible.
On my most recent trip home, I followed not one, not two, but three vehicles, who drove blithely past these signs, all the way to the Road Closed sign and the accompanying bulldozers blocking the way.
One poor woman slowly crept to a stop at the sign and simply stared at it.
One “worker” in a truck, jerked his vehicle into my neighborhood, did a three-point turnaround and headed back the other way.
As did the one following.
I turned into my neighborhood and drove to my house, having reached my destination, road closed or not.
As the saying goes: “What do you not understand about Road Closed?”
And yet, how many people do you know who plot a course of action and in spite of warning signs of every description—from friends, or from ultimately reaping the results of their actions, keep doggedly on their path, never looking beyond these warnings to the eventual end result.
Today: let us practice “looking beyond.”
Beyond the circumstance is the hand of God.
Beyond the warning is a dead end.