January 5, 2005
Encouragement for Today
Which Character Will You Play?
Sharon Jaynes, Vice President of Proverbs 31 Ministries, author, speaker
"'Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.'" (Jeremiah 33:3 NIV)
One Saturday night, my family hunkered down on the den sofa with an oversized bowl of popcorn, tall glasses of soda, and an action-packed video: Raider's of the Lost Ark, staring Harrison Ford. We were ready to be entertained by suspense, intrigue, and a touch of romance. Like any good movie, there were three principal characters: the good guy, the bad guy, and the damsel in distress. The good guy, Dr. Indiana Jones, who was a professor of archeology, obtainer of rare antiquities, and student of the world-renowned Dr. Ravenwood of the University of Chicago, quickly charmed us. The bad guy, a waxy-faced Nazi with a sinister grin and breathy laugh, who was always accompanied by an entourage of brutal, salivating, gargantuan, henchmen, quickly appalled us. Then there was the damsel in distress - the not-so-fair Marian, daughter of the now deceased Dr. Ravenwood and sole proprietor of a drinking establishment in the snowy mountains of Nepal.
In the opening scene, Dr. Jones is pulled from teaching his archeology class to meet with two agents from U.S. Army Intelligence. It seems that Hitler is obsessed with religion, the occult and is on a mission to find the whereabouts of the Ark of the Covenant which has been missing since Solomon's temple was destroyed in 586 B.C. Obviously, the government officials missed a few days in Sunday School, so Dr. Jones fills them in on the significance of this rare treasure. The Ark contains the Ten Commandments and symbolizes the presence of God.
The government officials explain they have intercepted a German communication that reveals the Nazis are searching for the Ark of the Covenant in Cairo, but in order to determine its exact location, they need a map that is engraved on a gold medallion, once owned by Dr. Ravenwood. Dr. Jones' mission, should he choose to accept it, is to locate the medallion, uncover the Ark of the Covenant, and bring it safely back to the United States.
Professor Jones, with the gleam of adventure in his eyes, whisks off his bow tie and wire-rimmed glasses and dons his suede Indiana Jones hat, leather whip, and trusty pistol. Off he goes to Nepal to find the fair Marian and hopefully, the medallion (which she has been wearing around her neck for years). Unfortunately for Marian, the waxy-faced Nazi also realizes that she is the key to finding the map and pays her a little visit just before Indiana Jones arrives. In adventure film fashion, a fight ensues, a fire breaks out, and the damsel's life is in peril. Just before the blazing walls come crashing down, the spy notices the gold medallion engulfed in flames and hanging from a pole, without considering the consequences, he grabs the metal disc from the flames, only to quickly drop it from his hot little hand - but not before it leaves a lasting impression. One side of the map is forever burned into the palm of his hand. Of course, Indiana Jones comes to the rescue. The music soars; the hero cracks his whip, saves the damsel in distress, and recovers the medallion.
The Germans, thinking they have the map in the palm of their hand (actually the palm of Mr. Waxy-Face's hand) start to dig. But what Professor Jones realizes is that the map is actually on the front and back of the medallion. The Germans have only half of the map and thus are digging in the wrong place.
Now I have to tell you, this was supposed to be an evening of mindless activity and pure entertainment, but God spoke to me is a big way. He not only used this movie to teach me about searching for God's presence and hearing His voice, but how people go about doing that as well. Many people would like to have the presence of God in their camp. And just like in the movie, we could potentially play one of three roles.
Some people are like the damsel, who had been wearing the treasure map around her neck for years, but had no idea what it was. She only wore it because her beloved father had given it to her as a gift. Likewise, there are those who wear a cross around their neck, but don't truly understand the significance of the gift of sacrifice and salvation from their heavenly Father. There are others who have a dusty Bible on a crowded bookshelf or displayed on a living room coffee table, but don't realize that it contains God's Words to them. They don't understand that the Bible is their map to experiencing God's presence and hearing His voice in their daily lives.
Some are like the bad guy with only one side of the medallion burned into the palm of his hand. They have heard parts of Scripture, read a few verses here and there, or visited a church on Holy Days such as Easter or Christmas. They are searching for the hidden treasures of life, but because they don't understand the whole truth of God, they are digging in the wrong place.
Finally, some are like the heroic Dr. Jones who possessed the whole map and knew exactly where to search for the treasure above all treasures - The Ark of the Covenant - the presence of God. Oh, the joy that comes from following God's map...not just parts of it...but all of it. God has not left us alone to figure out this thing called life. He speaks to us through the pages of the Bible to tell us great and mighty things we did not know (Jeremiah 33:3).
The movie was over. My popcorn bowl was empty, but my heart was full. As the credits rolled across the screen, God seemed to say, "There are three principles roles. Which character will you play?"
My prayer for today:
Dear Lord, Thank you that You have given us the entire map of where to find the treasure of all treasures...eternal life. Help us to unfold Your truth all the way, see the entire picture, and not simply look at one particular part. Thank You, Lord, for loving us enough to give us a map with such clear directions. We are looking forward to the day when we reach our final destination and spend eternity with You. In Jesus' name, Amen.
Do you know the steps to eternal life by memory? Pretend that you have met someone and are leading them to a personal relationship with Christ. Write the verses and the steps down on a piece of paper or underline them in your bible for quick reference.
In the above devotion, which character do you resemble the most?
Which character would you like to resemble the most?
Do you need to make any adjustments in your life in order to have His map readily accessible in your mind?
If so, what adjustments do you need to make?
"And he made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ." Ephesians 1:9
"Now to him who is able to establish you by my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery hidden for long ages past, but now revealed and made known through the prophetic writings by the command of the eternal God, so that all nations might believe and obey him - to the only wise God be glory forever through Jesus Christ! Amen" Ephesians 16:25-27
"I have become its (the church) servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" Colossians 1:25-27
"I will give you the treasures of darkness, riches stored in secret places, so that you may know that I am the LORD, the God of Israel, who summons you by name". Isaiah 45:3
*All verses are from the NIV translation.
Originally published Wednesday, 05 January 2005.