The Ultimate Disaster
If they dig into Sheol, from there shall my hand take them; if they climb up to heaven, from there I will bring them down. Amos 9:2
Enslaved to his self-destructive appetite, the addict tells himself various lies to justify his behavior. In my own addiction, every time I relapsed, I convinced myself that this time, I’ll get away with it. The consequences kept getting worse, but in the insanity of my addiction, I kept telling myself, I’ll be smart enough to avoid consequences. I wasn’t. And I didn’t. When I pursued disaster, I found it.
This seems to be the message of Amos to God’s people in today’s passage, where he tells the Israelites that they cannot abandon God and avoid consequence. Though God is patient, calamity eventually arrives, and when it does, there is no hiding. It is futile to flee from a God who is everywhere and trying to run is its own disaster.
The problem for us, is that we often seem to get away with our self-destructive pursuits. When I first relapsed, God didn’t immediately smite me, which only reinforced my behavior. Similarly, God does not strike with lightening when we indulge in our lust, gluttony, greed, pride, and selfish behavior. So, imperceptibly, we become enslaved to those things, all the while, believing that we’re avoiding consequence.
We may have embraced God’s forgiveness, but that doesn’t mean that we can avoid earthly repercussions. When we overeat, we gain weight. When we use drugs, we become addicted. In our addictions, we eventually injure ourselves and loved ones.
Earthly consequences though, aren’t the ultimate disaster. In light of eternity, it’s better to know God, struggle with addiction, and die young from an overdose, than it is to live a long, healthy life of denying God. Stepping into eternity having refused God throughout this life, tests the limits of his patience and grace.
We cannot hide from God, in this life, nor the next. Wherever we go, he is there, whether we believe it to be true or not. If we want to know life here and now, and if we want to know eternal life, then we must daily abandon ourselves to follow him. It’s impossible to successfully run from God.