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December 11, 2013

Filling the Gap

Each year, deer hunters across central and eastern Virginia participate in the long-standing tradition of conducting deer drives, oftentimes using hounds and/or beagles to jump the deer and push them out of thick vegetation. Generally, the plan is to surround a section of cutover or block of woods, and have as many hunters as possible surround that area. Drivers then walk their hounds through the cutover in different directions in an attempt to jump deer which are bedded there. If deer are present and the smelling is good, it usually doesn't take too long before deer are jumped and run in the general direction of one or more of the hunters surrounding the hunt area. However, as simple and straightforward as this process may sound, any number of things can occur which allow the deer and dogs to escape the hunt area. Drivers occasionally turn their dogs loose before hunters are in position, and if they jump deer quickly, it can get through before the hole is filled. Clubs can attempt to hunt a too large of an area for the number of hunters present. Or even still, hunters can line up the hunt area too 'loosely' in certain spots, or get impatient and leave their stands, allowing an outlet for the deer to escape between the hunters. Whatever the case, when the deer and dogs get outside of the hunt area, the original plan for the hunt generally falls apart, and it becomes an often futile race to just keep up with the dogs and attempt to get in front of the chase to get a shot at the deer.

Ezekiel 22:30 (NASB)
I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.

In thinking back to my hunting analogy, the purpose in hunting a block of land as a group is to line it up tightly and effectively, plugging up any gaps or escape routes that may exist. However, when gaps form between hunters, deer instinctively have a way of finding those gaps and escaping the hunt. In thinking back on this commonly occurring scenario, I was reminded of how each of us can get distracted, pulled away, sidelined from our primary and intended missions in life by things that seem really important to us at the time. Any of these situations can ultimately lead to the creation of 'gaps' in our lives and the entrance of sin. This ultimately impacts the lives of our friends and family members, and the repercussions even extend out into the lives of those we don't know and with which we don't come into contact.

God's longstanding and ultimate plan is for Israel to be united with and walk in step with him. However, at the time described in the scripture, Israel had fallen away spiritually from God, Jerusalem had fallen physically, and Ezekiel and the Jews were exiled. Ezekiel had prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem, and although God's justice required this, He did not want it to come to this. God in His grace searched the land for someone to stand in the gap for Jerusalem, but the spiritual apathy and sinfulness was so extreme that He found no one and was left with His only option to destroy Jerusalem. Further on in the book of Ezekiel, God does promise the Israelites that Jerusalem would be restored, but the people would have to change in order for this to occur.

I ask you to reflect on the most important missions or tasks to which God has called you. Where have you become distracted, disoriented, disengaged, or disobedient in your duty and privilege as a child of God, a spouse, a parent, a leader, a teacher, a mentor? Keep in mind that when we lose focus, both us and the folks on the other end of those relationships suffer and ultimately experience something less than God's best. And in an even greater context, our country is in much the same plight as Israel during the time of Ezekiel. Won't you stand in the gap as a leader, an influencer, and person of prayer on behalf of those that cannot or are choosing not to? Reaffirm your commitment today to stand in the gap for your brother and our nation. - GE

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