"The Lord is always watching what people do; everything they do is as clear as day to him." (Sirach 17:19)
I was slowly circling the green-slime-covered pond watching for signs of life to photograph when I saw from a distance this "log" sticking up out of the water. Drawing closer to that part of the pond I watched the "log" submerge beneath the surface. That's when I realized I wasn't the only one doing the watching. I was being watched by one of the huge snapping turtles that claimed this emerald pond as their home. A few moments later I stood still, he resurfaced, and we spent several moments quietly watching each other.
The author of Sirach (one of the apocryphal books in the Old Testament of the Bible in case you're wondering) says that the Lord is always watching us, waiting to see whether we'll take a path toward health and wholeness or sin and destruction. I remember as a young boy we lived in a town small enough that it was safe for me to walk to other parts of the neighborhood by myself to play with friends. However, the town was also small enough that pretty much everyone knew everyone. My parents would often remind me that just because I was out of their eyesight it didn't mean that someone else was not watching me to see if I was safe and "behaving." As a matter of fact, I was assured that this "network of watchers" worked so well that if I did misbehave my parents would know about it before I ever stepped foot in our home.
Now I realize that the awareness of being watched did and does help guide my decisions and behavior at various points in my life. Knowing that I'm watched by God helps me keep more of a watch on myself. It's when we quit "watching" our own selves, when we quit being self-aware, that we engage in unhealthy and sinful behavior. When we start making decisions to do things that are harmful to ourselves and others we first have to stop "watching." In other words, at some level of our being we have to turn off that voice of self awareness that normally would warn us and instead, pretend that what we're doing is really okay. "It won't really lead to the consequences we've been warned to avoid," we tell ourselves. In this state of denial, we suspend the "watching" of our own selves, and pretend that God is not watching either. The results are not pretty. We may initially escape heartaches and pain, but eventually tragedy will most often occur in one form or another.
Ultimately, God is not watching to condemn us. God is watching to invite us to health, wholeness, and deeper relationship with God and one another. The author of Sirach goes on to say, "But the Lord will allow those who repent to return to him. He always gives encouragement to those who are losing hope." (Sirach 17:24) In order to repent we must be willing to "watch" our own selves. We must be willing to see, to be self aware, to confront our sin and admit it. Then we must turn to God, fall on divine Grace, and ask the Holy Spirit to help guide us in watching ourselves in the future.
I pray that God's Spirit will help me watch me. How about you?
Blessings and Peace,
Pastor, Sand Hill United Methodist Church
Boaz, West Virginia
Help save lives! For more information on my new book, "A Relentless Hope: Surviving the Storm of Teen Depression," visit www.survivingteendepression.com.Check out my new video, "Teens Surviving the Storm"