Sunday, July 4, 2010

The American Storage Unit

It wasn't that long ago when "storage" meant people tucking away unused items in their attics and barns. If it didn't fit your body or home, you either threw it out or found someone else who could use it.

Now? I can't drive twenty minutes from my home without seeing huge complexes filled with row upon row of storage units. Some are climate controlled and large enough to live in!

The popularity of these businesses shouldn't be surprising. Accumulating "stuff" is the American way. To have more, better, bigger a sign of prosperity, of achieving the American dream.

When I think of storage and Scripture, my mind immediately goes to the man who tore down the barns he had to build bigger ones to store his earthly treasure...and then he died, leaving it all behind (Lk. 12). I recall God's words about bringing my tithes into the "storehouse" (Mal. 3:10). I remember Matthew 6: "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also" (v. 19-21).

Yet, what stands out to me most is not the physical storage mentioned in Scripture, but two other metaphorical kinds of storage. One is the storage of sin--not something the average person would intentionally do; I mean, who in his right mind would want to store up his sin? But without the saving blood of Christ, that's just what a person does--creates a storehouse of sin. Romans 2:5 states, "But because of your stubbornness and unrepentant heart you are storing up wrath for yourself in the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God."

To create a storehouse of sin is to create a storehouse of God's wrath.

In Hosea's message to Israel, he also speaks of this sin storage in connection with God's judgment: "The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; His sin is stored up" (Hos. 13:12). This verse, though, speaks of more than mere storage of one individual's sin. Instead, it speaks of a storehouse established for the whole country of Israel--here referred to as the tribe of "Ephraim."

Imagine this verse speaking to America, warning her that her sins are not going unnoticed. Instead, they are being stockpiled as God stands by and watches, waiting to enact His judgment just as He did in Hosea's time with Israel. It is a scary picture.

But there is hope.

Scripture speaks of a second kind of storage--of prayers. In John's vision of the throne room of heaven, he sees an angel at the "altar, holding a golden censer; and much incense was given to him, so that he might add it to the prayers of all the saints on the golden altar which was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, went up before God out of the angel's hand" (Rev. 8:3-4, my italics).

My prayers. Your prayers. All the prayers of the saints are gathered in golden storage bowls before God's throne.

While I don't fully understand the part our prayers play in God's final judgment, I do know one thing--God wants us to realize that not one prayer is wasted. Not one prayer is in vain. Every silent and every uttered prayer is stored up on that heavenly altar, just waiting for the God-ordained time when He will pour them out on the earth to accomplish the judgment of sinners and redemption of saints.

Be encouraged. Even though you see America storing up sin by the bag-full so that some days, our country resembles one giant garbage dump of sin, do not despair. Continue to pray for our nation, "pray and not to lose heart" (Lk. 18:1).

Whether you can see results or not, keep storing up prayers in those golden bowls.

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