Monday, April 16, 2018

Where the Rubber Meets the Road

A rather unexpected life correction came to me recently when I discovered Longhorn bulls and cows both have horns. In my mind, that’s just not right. It’s like seeing a woman with a full beard. Then I researched and found there are other species in which the females also have horns or antlers. Reindeer, antelope, some sheep and goats. But if you’re like me and all your life you’ve told the difference in bulls and cows by who has horns and who doesn’t, you now find yourself rather confused.

Sometimes words do that to me. For example there is a word translated commit in the OT. Easy word to define and understand. But when that same word is also translated roll in other verses, I’m scratching my head and looking at female cows with horns.

In the story when Moses met what would become his new family in Gen 29:7-8 He said, "Behold, it is still high day; it is not time for the livestock to be gathered. Water the sheep, and go, pasture them." But they said, "We cannot, until all the flocks are gathered, and they roll the stone from the mouth of the well; then we water the sheep."

The word is roll as in roll the stone from the mouth of the well.

In the story of Joshua and the nation of Israel taking possession of the land, Josh 10:16-18 Now these five kings had fled and hidden themselves in the cave at Makkedah. It was told Joshua, saying, "The five kings have been found hidden in the cave at Makkedah." Joshua said, "Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave, and assign men by it to guard them,

Roll large stones against the mouth of the cave.

But, listen to how they translate it in Prov 16:3 Commit your works to the LORD and your plans will be established.

It’s the same in Ps 37:4-5 Delight yourself in the LORD and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him and He will do it.

So with two seemingly unrelated uses of the same Hebrew word, I need to find how they work together.

The reason you would roll a stone over the opening of an artesian spring would be to hold in the water. Like placing a weighted lid over its opening. Rolling a stone against the mouth of a cave is to hold in the kings who were hiding inside.

The use of the word emphases the keeping factor of a stone rolled in place.

Our NT picture is: Matt 27:59-60 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away.

After a funeral service we typically have an interment. We call it a grave site service. The old word was a committal service where we committed a body to the grave. In Jesus’ story, the stone was rolled over the opening to secure the tomb, to keep or commit Jesus’ body to His grave.

The image of rolling a stone is to hold or keep something securely in place. So how does the word commit connect?

What is a commitment? Giving allegiance to or surrendering some aspect of your life to someone or something. When we commit to a diet, we give ourselves to it. When we commit to our marriage, we give ourselves to it. When we commit to a project, we surrender ourselves to its success. When we commit to help someone, we give them our time or surrender our calendar.

When Solomon and David used this word when they wrote of committing our ways and works to the Lord, they must have had in mind – to take our concerns or life issues (what’s going on in our life—our works, or what direction our life is headed—our ways) and roll them over into the custody of the Lord for Him to hold or keep them.

God, here is my issue. I entrust this issue to You. I give You my confidence that You will do what’s best. I surrender the burden of this issue to You and receive Your peace. My life, my concern, is in Your hand.

Interesting that nowhere in the Bible will you find we are to surrender our whole lives to the Lord outside of Salvation. In Salvation we give ownership of our lives to the Lord. If we have done that, He already possesses our lives.

1Co 6:19-20 Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body.

Paul acknowledged God’s ownership, but said the reality of that ownership is to be worked out within us as we yield more of ourselves to the Lord.

Rom 6:16-18 Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey…

Commit is an action word, not a decision. It is probably better understood by the word surrender:

Dr. Josef Tson, Romanian pastor, author, and president of the Romanian Missionary Society who survived years of persecution and exile under cruel Communist rule was asked his perception of American Christianity. He said the key word in American Christianity is commitment. This is not good. As a matter of fact, in Romania we do not even have a word to translate the English word commitment. It is a modern word. When a new word comes into usage, it generally pushes an old word out. Commitment replaced the word surrender. What is the difference between commitment and surrender? When you make a commitment, you are still in control, no matter how noble the thing you commit to. One can commit to pray, to study the Bible, to give his money, or to commit to automobile payments, or to lose weight. Whatever he chooses to do, he commits to and he remains in charge of it. But surrender is different. If someone holds a gun and asks you to lift your hands in the air as a token of surrender, you don’t tell that person what you are committed to do. You simply surrender and do as you are told…  

We give our lives to Him once and for all, but we commit our lives to Him regularly as we surrender our works and ways [what’s going on in our lives and where our lives are heading] to Him and trust Him for the outcome. For us to commit, we must surrender the issues of our life to Him.

Years ago the Firestone Tire Company used the slogan – Where the Rubber Meets the Road. It was an effective ad campaign because it had multiple applications. Real tires on a real road was only one of them.

Meaning: the place where the rubber tire meets the road is:
·         Where the tire comes in contact with the road.
·         Where the tire proves its value in keeping the car under control.
·         Where the tire demonstrates what it says it can do, by actually doing it.
o   A soldier can train all day, but the battlefield is where the rubber of that training meets the road of action and he proves how well-trained he is.
o   An athlete can brag all he wants about how good he is, but the game is where the rubber of his boasting meets the road of action and he proves his bragging was true or false.
o   A person can say they are trusting God with a problem but until the weight of that concern is actually rolled off of them and onto Him they haven’t done so. It’s just words. That’s where the rubber of faith meets the road of the action of trusting.

Where the rubber meets the road is where a commitment become real. It’s the point where what I have surrendered is placed in the Lord’s hand.

On July 4th, 1776, John Adams said in an address before the Continental Congress: "Live or die; sink or swim; survive or perish; I am committed to this Declaration of Independence. I am committed, and if God wills it, I am ready to die that this nation may be free." Words of a surrendered man.

An officer stood before the 1987 graduating class of the Nebraska State Patrol Academy and said, "Gentlemen, commitment distinguishes the true Trooper. If you cannot commit to the duties and disciplines that distinguish the State Patrol, then don’t wear the badge." Words of a surrendered man.

Now, when the tire revolves, only a small portion of the tire, a little larger than your hand, is all that touches the road. That’s called the contact point. The goal is to keep the tire touching the road at that contact point.

What happens if we don’t?
·         If we allow something to get between the tire and the road we can lose traction.
o   Water – hydroplaning
o   Gravel or sand
·         If we try to go too fast we might outrun the tires ability to maintain stability.
o   Over or under react and we might lose control
·         If we try to take a corner harder than conditions suggest we may give ourselves to other forces.
o   Losing grip
o   Can’t make the curve

Let’s tie all this together: The place where I surrender my works and ways to the Lord is where I have declared God’s faithfulness in my behalf. Anything I let get between that surrender and God becomes an enemy of my faith. My job is to maintain touch with the Lord, by reminding myself He is keeping what I have surrendered to Him.

Paul told Timothy: 2Ti 1:12 I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to keep what I have entrusted [committed, surrendered] to Him until that day.

What would my surrender look like from Heaven’s viewpoint?

Ps 121 I will lift up my eyes to the mountains. From where shall my help come? My help comes from the LORD, Who made heaven and earth. He will not allow your foot to slip; He who keeps you will not slumber. Behold, He who keeps Israel will neither slumber nor sleep. The LORD is your keeper; the LORD is your shade on your right hand. The sun will not smite you by day, nor the moon by night. The LORD will protect you from all evil; He will keep your soul. The LORD will guard your going out and your coming in from this time forth and forever.
This is where the rubber of my commitment meets the road of my life. It is the place where I stand, confident God is in charge and will do what’s best. He will not treat as unimportant whatever we have rolled onto Him.

  1.  Commit means to roll onto the Lord my works and ways, my concerns and life issues.
  2. This is not a one-time moment but an on-going promise I am making to continually trust God.
  3. If the burden returns, it is because I have allowed something to get between my promise and God’s faithfulness.
  4. To take my burden back from Him, I must admit I can no longer trust God to handle the issues of my life.
  5.  My alternative: I can carry the burden or roll it back onto the Lord.

Cast your cares upon Him for He cares for you.

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