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His Presence in Constant Conflict

A few miles from my home, is the house of an apparently wealthy person.

The lot is probably around 20 acres. Fenced. With a gate and security cameras. The lawn is mowed impeccably with a tractor-drawn mower. It is a feast for the eyes.

In one corner there is a pasture for elegant horses.

Far to the back of the lot, the driveway curves behind a grove of trees, and there you can see a few signs of a large house, presumably opulently appointed, and likely inhabited by a couple of lonely rich folk.

Barring the last clause, that is the loosely held dream of a great many of Americans – to get away from ________________.

Joy in life is achieved through distancing oneself from the conflict of daily life, however one defines that.

God, clearly, is not an American. He has other values.

“And I will send hornets before you, which shall drive out the Hivite, the Canaanite, and the Hittite from before you. I will not drive them out from before you in one year, lest the land become desolate and the beast of the field become too numerous for you. Little by little I will drive them out from before you, until you have increased, and you inherit the land.” Exodus 23:28ff NKJV

I personally feel that very deeply. I L.O.V.E. closure.

I try to imagine being born in the desert, growing up with no home, no safety, always waiting for The Promised Land.

Finally, the transition happens. Joshua takes over. They cross the Jordan. A couple of years of war and the enemy’s back is broken. The nation meets with God. The land is distributed. The army is disbanded and each tribe heads to their designated land, to begin to settle in and savor having a home, and a farm, and safety.

Except they quickly discover that there are endless pockets of insurgents who are always skulking around the edges, constituting an implied or real threat.


The Promised Land may be fertile and wealth producing, but not a place of peace and security.

Today in suburbia, it might be your co-worker in the next cubicle, or the neighbor in your apartment, your extended family or your child’s deranged school nurse who haunts them.

The bottom line is, no matter how glorious the Presence of God was at church on Sunday, the “Philistine” in your life persists and devours your joy.

So, on a micro scale, we embrace the rich man’s strategy: get away.

We can’t get away on his scale, but we move apartments, or jobs, or schools, or whatever. And trade a Philistine in for a Jebusite.

And we moan about how much better we could grow, if God would just rid our world of the Philistines that torment us.

And God offers us a very different proposition.

Grow in the midst of the Philistines, because of the blessings flowing from His Presence. And if we will grow, He will remove the Philistines.

And if we wait for Him to remove the Philistines so we can grow, we will likely die small.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 KJV

He offers His Presence.

And until we are willing to accept His Presence in the midst of constant conflict, we will likely not experience His Power removing the Philistines.

Copyright by Arthur Burk
October 2023

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