“Something Is Missing”
In the fall of 2007, the University of Central Florida opened their new football stadium known as “The Bounce House.” This $55 million dollar facility has seating for 45,323 screaming football fans, and on opening day, every seat was filled. However, something wasn’t right at the first game ever played in the stadium. People were fainting, and eighteen people were hospitalized for heat exhaustion during the game. According to news reports, emergency workers passed out free cups of water, but the hot temperatures were just too much for some people. Hot days in central Florida is not a surprising thing. However, there was one detail that made this such an amazing story. The $55 million dollar facility was built without a single water fountain! The Florida building code mandated that stadiums and other public arenas must have one water fountain for every 1,000 seats, or half that number of fountains if water were also available for sale. Vendors ran out of water at half time, and the situation quickly became an emergency. The university openly apologized for underestimating the need for water.
Few things are as perplexing mentally than those moments when we sense something is missing, but we cannot determine exactly what it is. Whether it is due to absent mindedness or a change in our habits, there is an instinct that warns us of our being blind to the obvious. Perhaps that is what Isaac was thinking when he spoke to his father, Abraham, on the way to Mount Moriah. In Genesis 22:7, he asks, “...Behold the fire and the wood: but where is the lamb for a burnt offering?” He realized a vital piece of the offering was missing, but he had not yet figured out that he was the sacrifice. As this world spirals into moral decadence, social instability, and economic failure, our spiritual instinct tells us that something is missing. While we may quickly point to the government, the courts, or the educational system, I wonder how easily we can recognize a more serious missing element. We are witnessing the effects of a society left to function with little presence of godly influence. The absence of spirit-filled Christians on the front lines has lifted the enemy’s restraint and deprived the world of a clear demonstration of God. Charles Spurgeon said, “A holy church is an awful weapon in the hand of God.” When right, the church is a force to be reckoned with. But, when wrong, the church fails in the face of ridicule from a lost world. Why are we seeing the marginalization of our Christian influence?
We are leaving our convictions. Have you ever walked away from a conversation with someone and thought to yourself, “Something is missing?” When enemies observed the supernatural strength of Samson and then saw how careless he was with his calling and conviction, surely they were left to curiously wonder. In Judges 16:20, we are then told of the demise of Samson, “...And he awoke out of his sleep, and said, I will go out as at other times...and he knew not that the Lord was departed from him.” What a reminder that a man who does not take his convictions seriously will forfeit the manifested power of God upon his life. We live in a generation that is guided by the herd mentality. However, the price for going along with the crowd means we must trade our convictions for opinions, and truth for feelings. The moment a man no longer holds the conviction of right and wrong, he discards the compass by which his position is checked. Such a crisis of conviction will always leave a people susceptible to evil leadership. Perhaps that is why theologian Donald Bloesch said, “The Christian way is not the middle way between two extremes, but the narrow way between precipices.” Skepticism and cynicism have always been the tools of our enemy. But, there can never be courage to stand against such foes where there are not also unshakeable convictions.
We are lacking in character. In Luke 2, we find the original Home Alone story. A day after Joseph and Mary are returning home from the Passover, I can imagine Mary with her checklist out. After noting her purse, jewelry, and blanket are there, it hits her; “My Son!” Luke 2:45 records the moment, “And when they found Him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking Him.” What a reminder of how easily our life can drift from the conscious awareness of the Lord’s presence. It is in these moments that we become most dangerous to ourselves. Have you ever had the experience of taking a bite of food and then thinking to yourself, “Something is missing?” Without the right seasoning even the best of foods can taste dull and bland. The Christian life that is missing the Lord’s seasoning presence will, without fail, leave a bad taste in the mouth of a lost world. Because of Lot’s compromise “he seemed as one that mocked unto his sons in law.” Because of David’s adultery, he gave “great occasion to the enemies of the Lord to blaspheme.” Because Israel imitated the lifestyle of the Babylonians in captivity, the pagans had to remind themselves, “these are the people of the Lord.” Scottish minister George B. Duncan once said, “The fruit of the Spirit is not excitement or othodoxy: it is character.” The only thing that can prevent the manifested witness of Christ within us is the limitations of our own character.
We are limited in capability. Have you ever been in the midst of assembling a product when it dawns on you that something is missing? When Elisha began building the school of the prophets, it required lumber for the construction. In 2 Kings 6:5, an interesting thing occurs, “But as one was felling a beam, the ax head fell into the water...” No matter how much he would swing the handle, without an ax-head, the best he could do is skin off the bark. What a picture of someone trying to complete a task without the aid of the Holy Spirit. The one mistake we are all prone to make is that of trying to do the will of God in the strength of the flesh. A lost world is neither threatened nor intimidated when we measure God’s power by our own grit, resolve, and determination. Seventeenth-century theologian John Owen wrote, “We have no power from God unless we live in the persuasion that we have none of our own.” All of those who became giants in the faith were those whose successes could only be explained by the presence of God’s power on their life. Moses could only stretch out his hand, but God parted the sea. Elijah could only call out in prayer, but God sent the fire. Until we are broken from all self-glory, it is doubtful we will ever know just how much of God’s power we could stand beneath. The world awaits to see such a one.
Have you ever stared into the mirror and, in spite of any success, achievements, or notoriety, thought to yourself, “Something is missing?” Men will often go to great extremes to evade coming face-to-face with themselves. Saint Augustine wrote, “Men go abroad to wonder at the heights of mountains, at the huge waves of the sea, at the long courses of the rivers, at the vast compass of the ocean, at the circular motions of the stars, and they pass by themselves without wondering.” When looking for that which is missing, the most obvious thing may just be the most overlooked thing.
Your Most Proud Pastor,
© 2015 Alan Stewart