Summary: We think of God’s watching us as His attempt to hurt us, to shame us, or to rescue us. But it is His availability when we trust Him. Preached at Luther Rice Memorial Baptist Church, Silver Spring, MD
“I can’t let you out of my sight for one minute!” How many parents here have ever said that? “I can’t let you out of my sight for one minute.” You said it to a small child, bent on doing something that would hurt. You said it to a teenager, on the phone instead of doing homework. You maybe even said it to your spouse, who, like somebody I know very well, is glued to his computer instead of bringing up the package of frozen food that was requested an hour ago! “I can’t let you out of my sight for one minute.”
For those of you who knew the Smith family when we were here as members twenty years ago, it may come as a surprise that people who look as young as we do have three grandchildren! But we do, and when the first one, Olivia, was little, we took care of her quite a bit while her parents worked. My story, then, comes from when Olivia was only about a year old – she is now six. Margaret went to the kitchen, just for a minute, and when she came back out to the living room, Olivia, just learning to walk, had crawled up about six steps toward the second floor of the house. She was not supposed to do that, but it’s hard to tell a child that young what she cannot do. So up the steps she went, as soon as her grandmother’s eyes were not there to see. Now Olivia had figured out how to crawl up; but clearly she did not know what to do to get back down. It was likely she would fall. So what was Margaret to do?
There were several possibilities. First, Margaret could have decided to demonstrate danger in a very definite way. She could have reached up and pulled that baby off the step, making her fall down and feel the pain. That sounds cruel, but it is a possibility, sort of like the Navy method of teaching people how to swim -- throw them in and let them learn. Margaret’s first option was to cause the very thing she feared might happen – falling down and getting hurt.
Or, second, Margaret could have decided to berate the little tyke in no uncertain terms. Can you hear it? “You disobedient little brat, I am going to paddle you so hard you’ll never climb steps again. You miserable little scamp, you’ll pay for this.” If you think that’s far-fetched and not likely from my sweet Margaret, I have to tell you I hear far worse in grocery store aisles, where mothers deal with grabbing little hands! One of the options was to tongue-lash the child and shame her.
Or, third, if she did not want to make the child fall, and if she did not want to vent her spleen in angry language, she had another option. She could have run up the steps, grabbed Olivia, and rescued her. That’s what grandmothers do, isn’t it? It would have been possible to end the crisis by jumping in and bringing the child down to safety. .
All of these things could have been done. But actually none of these things happened. You want to know what did happen? You’ll have to wait to the end of the sermon to find out!
You see, sometimes we do need to be watched. Sometimes somebody needs to keep an eye on us to supervise us. Many of us will not do what we are supposed to do without somebody looking over our shoulders. When I’m working at my desk, and I’m alone, I strew papers all over the room, I put my feet up on the desk, I surf the web at random. But let someone else come in, and I straighten up and fly right in a hurry! We need to be watched. Watching is good for us.
So, what do you think about God watching us? Do you feel that God sees what we are doing? My guess is that most of us forget about that. Most of us are oblivious to God’s oversight. We are not conscious of God watching, unless and until things get tough. But let stressful times come, and then, suddenly, we are aware that God is watching.
In the Bible, Job, after all his calamities, and after listening to the windy speeches of his supposed friends, is suddenly aware that God is watching. After all his losses, after his prayers and his pleas seemed to find no answer, suddenly Job is aware that God is watching. And he’d just as soon God not watch, for he finds the eye of God oppressive. He is troubled at what it means for God to watch him. Job considers three possibilities: