When I was in seminary I had a professor who told us about the time that he entered the school-wide tennis tournament several years earlier. The first year that he played in the tournament he finished in 19th place out of 21 entrants. He told us that he was by no means a great tennis player but he was no slouch. Still, he was certainly not happy with his result.
The next year, in training for the event, he took on a different practice strategy. He practiced as he usually did, but he also employed a new visualization technique. In the months leading up to the tournament for 5 minutes every day, he sat in a chair and held a tennis ball in his right hand and stared at the ball. He didn’t take his eyes off of the ball for a solid five minutes. He studied it. He turned the ball around in his hands. He focused ALL of his time and attention on it for 5 minutes.
Every. Single. Day.
When tournament time came around, his results were markedly different from the previous year. He finished in 3rd place overall with the about the same number of entrants as the year before. To what did he attribute his success? Staring at the tennis ball.
During the tournament he said that every time the ball was hit to him he said that it looked to be about the size of a beachball coming across the net at him. All of that focused attention had made the tennis ball appear much bigger than it was and he easily made it to the semifinals. (He lost in that round).
His point was this—the more you focus your attention on something, the bigger it gets in relation to everything else.
This is kind of how our faith in God can be. I say “kind of” because God is no tennis ball. He is not miniscule in comparison to everything else. He is the GREATEST Being alive. By Him all things were created. Isaiah 40:12—ff describes God’s vastness in poetic language:
12 Who has measured the waters in the hollow of his hand
and marked off the heavens with a span,
enclosed the dust of the earth in a measure
and weighed the mountains in scales
and the hills in a balance?
15 Behold, the nations are like a drop from a bucket,
and are accounted as the dust on the scales;
behold, he takes up the coastlands like fine dust.
17 All the nations are as nothing before him,
they are accounted by him as less than nothing and emptiness.
A “span” is the distance between the tip of your thumb and the tip of your pinky. This is poetic language. It is using “anthropomorphic” (ascribing human attributes to God) language to describe the Creator of the ends of the earth. It is saying, in essence, that as vast as the universe is to us, to God the heavens are about the distance of a span—ridiculously insignificant. In short, God is bigger than we could ever imagine.
We can live all of our days without even seeing or thinking about His influence in our lives or in the world. We can tend to “feel” like either there is no God or if there is He certainly is not orchestrating all of history according to His design.
Yet, the Scriptures paint an entirely different picture of God. Look at Genesis 15:12-16, for example:
As the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell on Abram. And behold, dreadful and great darkness fell upon him. Then the Lord said to Abram, “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years. But I will bring judgment on the nation that they serve, and afterward they shall come out with great possessions. As for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried in a good old age. And they shall come back here in the fourth generation, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.” Genesis 15:12-16
As Abram (later, Abraham) fell asleep a great darkness came upon him. God had surely given him a promise about Abram being the father of many nations, and Abram asked God how he would know that this would take place. God instructed Abram to prepare a sacrifice, and after he did as he was told & put the animals on the altar, birds of prey came down upon the pieces. Then he fell into the deep sleep & great darkness fell upon him. Abram was obedient to do what God asked him to do, but his obedience was met by an attempt to mar the work (the birds). Abram had to drive this threat away, and then the darkness fell before God did anything to assure Abram of His promise.
In the midst of the “dreadful & great darkness” God spoke to Abram. And the thing that He said revealed God’s ABSOLUTE, exhaustive foreknowledge of future events that would take place about 430 years later. He stated: “Know for certain that your offspring will be sojourners in a land that is not theirs and will be servants there, and they will be afflicted for four hundred years.” God foretold the Exodus account of Moses from Egypt. God told Abram, in essence, “you want to know who I am and what I am going to do? Just know this, there will come a day when your descendants will be driven from the land, and they will be held captive for 400 years. However, afterward I am going to bring them out again in victory and deliver them back into the Promised Land.”
And the rest is history.
God did what He said He would do. He kept His promise. (Read the book of Exodus).
God is greater than we can imagine. The Bible clearly states that He has unfettered, exhaustive foreknowledge of ALL future events. He knows how everything is going to play out in history, and He, in fact, is orchestrating all events according to the counsel of His own will. Nothing slips through His fingers.
In 70 A.D. the temple in Jerusalem was destroyed and Israel was conquered by the Romans and ceased to be a nation. For the next 1800+ years multiple world powers sought to control this land, but each eventually failed. God states in the Bible in multiple places that God has an inviolable covenant with this land. It does not matter what history has shown, God Himself has stated that He will ALWAYS be faithful to Israel. And He has been.
In his book The Last Times or Thoughts on Momentous Themes (published in 1856), author Joseph Sciss stated the following:
“That [Israel should be restored as a nation] seems like an impossibility. 1856, indeed. Some have no patience at all with such a theory or sneeringly ask, “what can be the object of such a restoration? What end is it to answer? What purpose can it serve? [Yet] it is enough to reply that our business is with the word of God and that if God has announced it is his purpose so to restore the Jewish nation, he certainly has adequate reasons to justify his purpose. The only question is whether God has said that he will restore the Jewish nation. For if he has said so, no reasonings of our can invalidate his promise or throw uncertainty onto his word.”
(In other words, I know it doesn’t make any sense, but the Word says it is going to happen and there I make my stand.)
Enter May 14, 1948—the date that Israel once again became an independent nation.
More than anything else in your life, you owe it to yourself to stare at this God. You owe it to yourself to be consumed with gazing upon His majesty, His authority, His sovereignty. It will transform everything in your life. He WILL become (over time) bigger & bigger than all of your current struggles and addictions, and if YOU WILL TRUST HIM, He will blow through your life in untold power, bringing His joy with Him.
Stare at Him though His Word, and watch Him grow in His influence in your life. You will not be sorry.