Every Northern Nevadan is done with living in smoke! The constant reminder of all those acres being immolated by the Rim fire stings our eyes and irritates our throats. A first-time visitor to our area might even doubt the Sierras lie so close; our view of them has now been obscured for weeks.
Our spiritual life can sometimes feel like we’re living in smoke, too. We were made for a relationship with the living God, the God revealed in the Bible. But our view of God can be hidden, just like our view of the Sierras is now covered up.
The fog of a death or personal tragedy can shroud our view of God, as our circumstances overwhelm us for a time. But more often it’s our own behavior that generates the smokescreen. The prophet Isaiah wrote, “Listen! The Lord’s arm is not too weak to save you, nor is his ear too deaf to hear you call. It’s your sins that have cut you off from God,” (Isaiah 59:1-2 NLT).
There’s no one in Eagle and Carson valleys who has not been affected by the Yosemite haze and ash. In the same way, all of us have fallen short of God’s perfect standard for our lives. The word sin means to shoot at a target and miss. God’s good standard for us is His perfection (the Ten Commandments being an example), and we’ve all fallen short of that.
Living in smoke is not fun! Neither is living with the consequences of sin. Isaiah compares that experience to dwelling in a perpetual murkiness: “We look for light but find only darkness. We look for bright skies but walk in gloom. We grope like the blind along a wall, feeling our way like people without eyes. Even at brightest noontime, we stumble as though it were dark,” (Isaiah 59:9-10).
If we could remove the smoke from our valleys, we would have done so! Likewise, we’re helpless to remove the consequences of our sin or to change those behaviors we despise ... without God’s help! The Lord has dealt with our sin Himself because we are unable to do so. Again, Isaiah writes, “He (the Lord) was amazed to see that no one intervened to help the oppressed. So he himself stepped in to save them with his strong arm,” (Isaiah 59:16).
Jesus Christ, God’s only son, died on the cross as our perfect substitute. We receive His forgiveness and a brand new life by placing our faith in Jesus Christ as the only way to be made right with God. Faith in Jesus removes that which obscures our view of God. All our problems are not instantly solved, but we have an unshakable relationship with our Creator, Savior and Lord that nothing and no one can separate. It’s the relationship each of us was made for!
Are you tired of living in smoke, spiritually speaking? Faith in Jesus clears the air between us and the God who made us and loves us.
Don Baumann is outreach pastor of Hilltop Community Church in Carson City and is a member of the Carson City Christian Ministerial Fellowship.