PASTOR’S PERSPECTIVE: “The LORD of the Sum of All The Parts!”
Jay Rathman was hunting deer in the Tehema Wildlife Area near Red Bluff in northern California. He climbed to a ledge on the slope of a rocky gorge. As he raised his head to look over the ledge above, he sensed movement to the right of his face. A coiled rattlesnake struck with lightning speed, just missing Rathman’s right ear! The four-foot snake’s fangs got snagged in the neck of Rathman’s wool turtleneck sweater, and the force of the strike caused it to land on his left shoulder. It then coiled around the neck. He grabbed it behind the head with his left hand and could feel the warm venom running down the skin of his neck, the rattles making a furious racket. He fell backward and slid headfirst down the steep slope through brush and lava rocks, his rifle and binoculars bouncing beside him. “As luck would have it”, he would later report, “I ended up wedged between some rocks with my feet caught uphill from my head. I could barely move!” He got his right hand on his rifle and used it to dislodge the fangs from his sweater, but the snake had enough leverage to strike again! “He made about eight attempts to hit me with his nose hitting me just below my eye four times. I kept my head turned so he could not get a good angle with his fangs. But oh, it was so very close. This snake and I were eyeball to eyeball and I found out that snakes do not blink! He had fangs that looked like darning needles! I had to choke him to death. It was the only way out. I was afraid that with all the blood rushing to my head that I would become light headed and pass out. After I strangled the snake, I tried to toss the dead snake aside, but my hands could not let go! I had to pry my fingers from its neck!” Rathman, who was 45, and worked for the Department of Defense in San Jose, said the entire encounter lasted 20-30 minutes! Warden David Smith of the Wildlife Area says of meeting Rathman: “He walked toward me holding this string of rattles and said with a grin on his face, ‘I’d like to register a complaint about your wildlife here!’ ”
When I first read that account I thought of how that Old Serpent the Devil attacks us! He is always watching for his moment to strike. Our struggle against him is a matter of life and death for our Christian lives. He is not called the Great Dragon; That Old Serpent; A Roaring Lion; a Murderer; the Destroyer; The Tempter; a Liar; a Deceiver; Our enemy for no reason. The Bible tells us always to be on the alert…To live our lives watchful lest we be struck suddenly by his vicious attack. He makes the Christian life such a struggle. We sometimes lose some battles with him. We, when we rely on the Power and Presence of our Lord, win the battles. Overall, we know that we have already won the war. We are not fighting for battle, we are fighting from Battle. We serve a LORD that always causes us to Triumph over the Evil one. That being said, sometimes our progress in the Christian life is three steps forward, two steps back. Sometime ours chart of progress in Christ does not show a steady climb to victory, but looks more like a roller coaster at Six Flags. Up and Down…Up and Down…Up and Down. Hopefully with more ups than downs! But not always…unfortunately. How are we to evaluate our Christian lives?
I read a quote the other day that really spoke to my heart. It is a quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Emerson wrote, “The years teach much that the days never know”. Aristotle, the great philosopher, and teacher of Alexander the Great spoke a similar word. He said, “The whole is greater than the sum of all the parts!” Both of them are saying that do not measure your progress by a few secluded individual daily encounters. Sometimes you can’t see the big picture. Your current struggles can be overwhelming and discouraging. Recent failures can weigh heavy and cause past victories to pale from your memory, and cause fear that you will lose more struggles, and the devil can use that fear to be a self-fulfilling prophecy. You read in Scriptures about those the enemy sifted like wheat. But the LORD encouraged them to rebound, get back into the battle, let Him fight the Battle for them, and they could begin following up with a victory, then another to make that one look small, and turn the entire conflict around! “The whole is greater than the sum of all the parts!” “Years of victory will overshadow the days of defeat!” During the dark days of WWII, the clear and challenging voice of Winston Churchill told the allies that it was “not the end!” He told them “it was not the beginning of the end!” He instead told them that it was more likely “The end of the beginning!” Their “beginning” was coming to an end. They would now move on to victory that would soon cause all past struggles and defeats to pale in light of the great coming victory. That is the perspective that we need to keep our eyes fastened to. Another applicable quote here might be “Those who ignore history have no past, and no future!” But if we look clearly at history...”Those who make history are those who submit to the One who Orchestrates it!” That is what the Apostle John was telling his dear Children. He told them that Jesus Is LORD. He is LORD of LIGHT; HE IS LORD OF LIFE; HE IS LORD OF LIBERTY; HE IS LORD OF LOVE. He went on to tell them that as the LORD…i.e. “The Great I AM”…that I will be ALL you NEED ME to BE and make you all you will ever need to become. With His LORDSHIP they will experience all the sum of all the parts they need and my Fully Experiencing Him as LORD they would find “the whole is greater than the sum of all the parts!” They would also experience years of fullness and victory that their individual days may never know! HE IS THE LORD OF THE WHOLE THAT THEY NEED! THE LORD OF THE SUM OF ALL THE PARTS. THE LORD OF LIGHT; LIFE; LIBERTY; AND PERFECTING LOVE. What else could we need?