Communities all over the country are doing it. It has become in some cases a very lucrative source of income.
The “it” in these communities is installing cameras at the various traffic lights in their city.
Now there are a couple of different versions of these cameras. Some of them merely keep track of traffic flow. They monitor the movement of vehicles through intersections and change the signals accordingly. But others are more personal and more intrusive. These cameras are filming the drivers that proceed through the traffic light when the light is red. Then a few days later, those drivers receive traffic tickets in the mail!
You cannot walk into a convenience store these days without thinking that you are somehow being videotaped. In fact, I am convinced that there are very few places where you can go where you are not being videotaped.
Whether it be in a bank or a convenience store, whether an ATM or traffic light, or even the parking lot at the mall, our lives are under almost constant surveillance by some videophile somewhere.
Now don’t misunderstand me — I am not saying that necessarily all this is bad. The sinfulness of man’s heart (Check out Jeremiah 17:9) and our natural bent to go towards evil rather than away from it forces business owners and proprietors to take rather extreme measures to somehow reduce the likelihood of their business being struck by thieves and vandals.
It also causes communities around the country to seek new and creative ways to “encourage” the citizens to abide by the laws.
I have been studying through the life of Abraham in the book of Genesis in recent weeks and I have enjoyed watching Abraham in his development of a life of faith.
As we read about his life, we can almost put ourselves in his sandals, and walk with him, as he leaves the community of Ur of the Chaldees. With the wind at his back, he heads up the superhighway towards Haran, with the idea of leaving from there and going to only-God-knows-where. He is traveling light, as God has told him to leave behind everything he owns or treasures as near and dear to his heart.
God was not being a killjoy, mind you; He was just trying to get Abraham to re-establish his own priorities. He wanted this 60-year-old man to finally come to grips with what is really important in his life.
And in reading the words of Moses, written some five or six hundred years after they actually occurred, we indeed get the impression that there is nothing Abraham could do to get out of the limelight of God’s videotaping camera.
By the way, that fact is one of the greatest indicators for the validity of the Bible and the accuracy of its words: The Bible does not erase the bad parts.
We see here in this account, Abraham’s good and his bad decisions. We see his high points in his walk with God, but we also see his low points as well. His sinfulness does not remain hidden to our eyes. On the contrary it is displayed right there in front of us for the whole world to see.
Abraham is called the “friend of God” in several places in the Scriptures (2 Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8, and James 2:23). He is also seen as a great “father” of the faith. And in Genesis 15:6, we are even told: “Then he believed in the Lord; and He reckoned it to him as righteousness.”
I am convinced that there are a few reasons for this statement that are important for us to rewind the videotape of his life in order to discover.
First, Abraham’s faith was a personal faith. He believed in God. He did not just believe about God. I am convinced that there are many who go through life giving lip-service to God, but not really trusting in Him, not really taking Him at His word. They really think God is somewhat fortunate to have them on His team, rather than trusting Him completely.
Second, Abraham’s faith was a propositional faith. He did not concoct his own version of God. His faith in the person of God had its roots in the very promises of God. Many people believe in a god of their own definition. Not Abraham. He discovered that God is a God of His Word, and His Word does indeed reign supreme.
Abraham believed in the God of revelation; that is, he believed that God would uphold His word, just like any good, covenant-keeping God should!
And third, Abraham’s faith was a very practical faith. No pie in the sky here! Abraham’s faith was rooted in a very practical need in his life – the need for an heir. God knew of his need for a son. Abraham sensed the need. And God provided the answer to that need. God does not ask us to believe in the abstract, but in the very practical everyday matters of life.
The point of all this is simply this: God is in control. He knows where we are and what we are doing. And He simply asks that we place our complete and total trust in Him. So the next time you walk into a department store, or a grocery store and you see the security screens surveying the parking lots, realize that you cannot hide from God.
You cannot run from God … You may as well trust Him!
God bless …
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the Times-Gazette and the News Journal. He is also the former Pastor of Port William UMC.