by Pastor John Kilpatrick
The story I tell you now is simple but profound. I forget whether I heard it or read it. There was a man who had lost his wife in childbirth. Most of his children were grown, but he still had one or two small ones. One day, all of his older children were away, and he was caring for his little baby. An emergency came up, and he had to go into town. There was no one to watch over the baby while he went into town except for his trusted family dog that had watched over some of his other children when they were young. He had even kept potential enemies at bay. This man knew that he could trust the dog to care for his baby. So he left the baby in a bassinet and talked to the dog as though the dog really understood, saying, “Don’t let anyone bother the baby.”
As he left, he looked back and saw the trusted dog on the porch looking very protective. Hours passed, and the father returned. When he stepped into the yard he did not see the dog! His heart sank. He called the dog, but there was no answer. He went inside and saw the bassinet turned over, the blanket on the floor, and no baby. He ran outside in guilt, accusing himself that he should have known better. Suddenly, he heard a whimper. He looked under the house and saw the dog. He was whimpering and licking blood off of his paw. He had blood on his coat. With rage and grief, he ran and got his shotgun. As the dog bowed humbly to let him kill him, the father emptied the gun into him.
After killing the dog, the father, grieving over his baby, stepped up on the porch and sat down with his head in his hands. He heard a cry!!! As he looked around, he heard more cries. He thought his mind was playing tricks on him. Then he heard it again. He looked under the bed and there was his baby. The child was not hurt! Evidently the shotgun blast woke the baby up. But what about the blood on the dog’s paws and coat? He retraced his steps and the trail of blood. His trusted family pet had killed a wild dog that was trying to harm his baby!!! He went back to the dog, and began to weep and cry and apologize, thinking, “How could I have known…the blood was on your paws and coat…the bassinet was turned over…there was no baby…how could I have known?”
Apparently that which the father thought had happened was not reality! It seemed obvious that the dog had harmed the child. However, the man did not know the facts, but was reacting to those things that were easily discernable, the things that were apparent by looking on the surface. The dog had blood on his paw. He was obsessed with the obvious!
The Jews were obsessed with the obvious.
Isaiah 53:1-3 says, “Who hath believed our report? And to whom is the arm of the Lord revealed? For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him. He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.”
The Jews did not recognize the visitation of their Messiah, Jesus. John 1:11 says, “He came to his own, and his own knew him not.” Those who were waiting for Him misinterpreted Him. The people who he claimed as His own misrepresented Him. Those who said they knew Him couldn’t even recognize Him. How could they have known? They were looking for a King on a throne and a mighty conquering general. However, Jesus was not regal or kingly in appearance. He was not handsome or comely. He was not a military man or a winner. He was quite the opposite of what the Jews had imagined their Messiah to be. For example, when Jesus got ready to pay His taxes he had to borrow money. He never graduated from a university like Moses, who had been educated in Egyptian schools of higher learning. He talked about leaving a will, but had no possessions. He always ate at people’s homes. He had nowhere to lay His head at night. “How could our King be born in a manger?” the Jews thought. How could this Jesus rule the world without an army? The only time Jesus ever spoke in a synagogue, He was chased out, even though He was supposed to be a teacher and preacher. The only followers He had were twelve scraggly disciples. The things that a king and conqueror ought to have, Jesus did not have. Apparently, He was not the Messiah!
Those in the storm become obsessed with the obvious.
Jesus said to His disciples, “Get in the boat and let’s go to the other side.” Mark 4:37-40 says, “And there arose a great storm of wind, and the waves beat into the ship, so that it was now full. And he was in the hinder part of the ship, asleep on a pillow: and they awake him, and say unto him, Master, carest thou not that we perish? And he arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, Peace, be still. And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. And he said unto them, Why are ye so fearful? how is it that ye have no faith?”
When the storm arose, the disciples’ humanity got caught up in the obvious. They thought, “There is a storm here, the waves are huge, the thunder is loud, lightning is flashing, and he’s asleep!” Jesus had already said in verse 35 that they were going to pass to the other side, but the disciples said to themselves, “It is clear that we’re going under, because our boat surely can’t take this storm.” The disciples saw what was so easily discernable, that they were going to perish. But Jesus said, “We’re going to the other side.”
When a storm breaks in your life, you have to know how to trust; you have to know how to pick up your cross and follow Him. When Jesus was in the midst of the storm, he was already beyond it. Although there was an actual storm, the real storm for the disciples was internal. It was in their mind and spirit. It would not have been enough for Jesus just to quiet the lightning or calm the waves. The disciples needed peace inside, the peace that comes only from knowing God is really master. If Jesus had been the center of their lives, there would have been peace in their spirits. That would have been the miracle!
Where there is lack, we become obsessed with the obvious.
At another time, Jesus was teaching a large crowd of people when it began to get dark. The disciples informed Jesus that they didn’t have enough food to eat and that the crowd didn’t have any food either. The stores were getting ready to close, and neither they nor the crowd had eaten dinner. So, the disciples wanted to send the crowd away so that they could eat in their homes. Jesus looked at them and essentially said, “You are obsessed with the obvious! You don’t have to send them away…find out what they have!” They came back and said, “There’s only a small boy’s lunch of fish and loaves.” In other words, “Apparently, there’s not enough.” They had assessed the situation. That is all Jesus had told them to do. Jesus would take what was so apparent and change the situation right before their eyes. Twelve baskets were left as evidence that Jesus is not bound. Jesus is obsessed with faith!
Are you caught up in the obvious?
The Bible says that in the last days people will be lacking faith. Jesus asks in Mark 18:8, “When the Son of man cometh, shall he find faith on the earth?” Jesus wants us, as Christians, to look past the obvious, be patient, trust, and put our confidence in Him. Maybe you feel that revival will never come to your church, home, or ministry. “Obviously, it’s impossible here,” you say. Don’t get caught up in that syndrome. It’s a lie from hell.
Jesus said in Matthew 10:34, “Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword.” Not a sword that cuts the flesh, but the heart and the entrance of the mind, where he can sit on the throne and influence our decisions and show us the power of His spirit working against the obvious.
God is often contrary to human nature and understanding. Jesus said in Matthew 11:6, “And blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me.” We must be careful lest we find ourselves distracted. We, as Christians, must forsake that which is obvious and stand fast, looking in God’s direction with eyes of faith to see His inconspicuous hand! What is inconspicous today at noon may be unveiled tomorrow morning. Give things time!! God is moving and working on your behalf.
When you are caught up in the storms of life, don’t get caught up in one scene. The disciples asked Jesus a question, “Don’t you care that we are going to die?” Jesus replied with a question (and I paraphrase), “Do you have faith, or will you be plagued with the obvious?” Don’t measure life by one circumstance! It is only part of God’s eternal dealing in your life. You succeed only when apparently you’ve failed.
How do you know when you are obsessed with the obvious?
You say to yourself, “Doesn’t God care?”
You can’t see past things discernable.
You feel that victory will never come.
You become despondent and feel neglected.
How can you overcome obsession with the obvious?
Remember that life is a drama. Don’t get caught up with any one scene. One scene or situation does not measure life. Don’t judge your situation by one curtain call. Life is a drama, and it has a plot. Give it time to unfold. Stop being anxious. The plot is not apparent in the first chapter. It unfolds in progression.
Don’t ad-lib when in trouble. Stick with your prepared text (the Bible). Stand still until you see God manifest Himself.
Determine that the “real storm” is never outside, but always inside.
Finally, for goodness sake, don’t shoot the dog!!! Hold off until there is a complete picture of what is going on.
I am going to end this message by relaying a story to you that I read in the early 1970’s. Thomas A Lambie, M.D., wrote the story while doing deputation work for the Sudan Interior Mission in Glasgow, Scotland. I hope that you will enjoy it as much as I did.
In ancient days in this land, lived a certain great nobleman whose wife was dead, and his only child was a beautiful damsel, now of marriageable years, for whom he desired a suitable mate. So he invited all the young noblemen of the whole countryside to come on an appointed day, to remain for a whole week of entertainment at his castle. During this week, when young nobles were in close proximity with her, surely a suitable match could be made with someone of equal rank, whose entail might equal hers.
Great preparations were made for the festivities. A band of strolling players was hired. Minstrels were engaged, and clowns and jesters, and a great store of food and drink. Whole pigs were roasted, and capons, hares, and pheasants. A hundred appetizing foods were prepared, and vast quantities of nut brown ale and mead, wines of Oporto and muscatel. The whole castle was in a bustle of preparation for the notable guests.
Early on the morning of the day of their arrival, a loud knocking was heard at the postern gate of the castle, and an apparently deformed man on crutches appeared. A few crusts were unceremoniously thrust at him and the gate slammed shut in his face. He refused the crusts, but continued to knock.
“Go away, you varlet, or we will unleash the dogs on you.” But he continued to knock and beat upon the oaken panel with his crutches.
“What is it you want?”
“Is not this the day appointed for the guests to come to seek for the nobleman’s daugher? It is for this that I have come, to beg for her hand,” and he edged his way into the cobbled courtyard.
“What, you? Oh, do come and hear this poor deluded beggar.” Peals of laughter echoed as cooks and servants and soldiers deserted their duties and gathered round to laugh and mock at the poor fool.
The daughter was being adorned for the guests, and she inquired of her maid what all the noise in the courtyard was about. Between giggles, the maid said, “It’s a poor beggar who wants to marry you.”
“I’ll go see him.”
Down the winding stairs she went, through the deserted kitchen where meats were baking, out into the cobbled yard, and the crowd opened to let her pass.
“What is it you want?” she asked the beggar. He fastened upon her an earnest look.
“I have seen you while I myself was unnoticed, and I love you and have come to ask if you will marry me.” Groans of laughter from the crowd. She paused and gave him look for look.
“Yes, I will marry you.” More shrieks of merriment from the crowd.
“When?” said he.
“In a year and a day.”
“Very well, I will return.” And he hobbled off.
“You are a clever girl. You knew what to say to get rid of him.”
“I meant what I said.” More laughter.
“Of course you didn’t. What fun!”
The guests arrived in due course, but she gave them no encouragement. The nobleman scolded and importuned, and finally was actually cruel to his daughter. The servants, taking their cue from him, were the same. Gloom descended on the castle even before the departure of the guests.
Then ensued an unhappy year for the girl, for although she did her best to please her father, for she was a good girl, he was not to be appeased.
“You would marry a beggar,” he said. “He will never come back, that’s sure.” She would smile gently, but even this would only infuriate him.
A year passed, and only one day remained if the beggar were to show up. The morning passed uneventfully, and high noon. Then, something quite different took place.
Distant peals of music and tuck of drums was heard, and the sun flashed on spears and polished armor. A courier spurred to the gate with the astonishing news that the king’s son, the royal prince, was arriving at once. There was no time for preparation. The nobleman, accompanied by his daughter, had barely time to reach the castle gate, where he saw, riding between two rows of knights and squires that reached to the horizon, the king’s son. He was mounted on a magnificent white charger, and was clad in golden armor, while his face shone as the sun.
Swinging gracefully from his steed, he stood in front of the nobleman, to whom he gave no recognition. He took the girl by the hand, and in a most endearing fashion said, “My love, I have come back for you, even as I promised.”
Her eyes filled with tears as she murmured, “I knew that you would come.”
So he took her, his bride, to his royal kingdom far away. But before she left there was just time for one of the maids to ask, “How did you know that the beggar was the prince in disguise?”
“Ah,” she said, “I looked into his eyes, and something I saw there, I listened to his voice, and something I heard, made me know that he was indeed the son of the king.”
It is like that today. Jesus came as the lowly, meek Lamb of God, who was despised, rejected, mocked, and reviled. He obviously was not the one the Bride was awaiting. Even John the Baptist said, “Art thou he that should come, or do we look for another?” (Matthew 11:3)
Jesus came first to seek a Bride. There are those who have looked into His eyes and heard something in His voice. We know He is indeed the Son of the King. We know that He shall return just as He said. The world will be in disbelief as we ride off with our King who has fire in His eyes. I am obviously excited! What about you?
Even so, Come Lord Jesus!!
© 2000 by John Kilpatrick. All rights reserved. This article originally appeared as the May 2000 issue of Partners in Revival newsletter. Used with permission.