I still remember Leon Chamberlain fondly. A great man in my eyes. He owned a ranch in the mountains around Douglas Wyoming. I wish I had a picture of him. This is the church he often attended. I remember hearing him in the chapel of Lone Tree Bible Ranch in Glendo Wyoming way back in the summer of 1978. No preaching, he just told stories. Stories from the mountains about real life. He spoke about living your life for God. I was a new Christian, and what I was hearing was revolutionary! If you live your life for God with no holds barred – nothing reserved – He will bless you and watch over you with His favor. He read out of John 10:10 where he said that the thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy, and he spoke about wolves who would try to break into the sheep pens and steal animals. He would wait with his rifle and shoot any animal that tried to break into his little lambs and kill them. That was incredible to me to think that my God would protect me with that same type of passion. Leon went on to say that Jesus came to give us life and gave us life that was abundant. That was God’s desire for us. Wow.
Then he told this story, and used Psalm 78:46 for his verse: “He gave their crops to the destroying locust and the fruit of their labor to the locust.” Leon, being a rancher, was pretty close to his ranching buddies around him. They always helped each other out. When it was hay bailing time, they helped each other when they could. If a tractor broke, they helped each other. If there was a break in a fence and livestock was getting loose, they helped each other. There was one difference, however. These men did not know the Lord. Leon did, and he tried to introduce Jesus to his ranching buddies. They wanted nothing to do with Jesus. They all still got along – for the most part – and had good relationships, but this Jesus thing was the one item that made Leon a butt of jokes. Now, in school, when people bully you, you can go to the teacher or the assistant principal. But when you are a grown man, what do you do? Well, Leon did what any grown man should do – he gave it to the Lord, and remained their friend. God is very clear that He WILL take the cause.
The clouds were gathering and the wheat crop was ready to be harvested. All the ranchers in the valley were concerned because if it hailed, it would destroy the wheat crop and leave the ranchers with a mess in their fields and a mess in their finances. They all got together, and decided to get the combines out and harvest the wheat knowing that if they worked together they could get it done faster – fearing the hail. But it was Sunday. Leon didn’t work on Sundays. He felt that Sunday belonged to the Lord – he feared the Lord more than hail. Now, at this point in the story, I deviate from my dear brother Leon in his theology about working on Sundays, because even Jesus said, “Which one of you who has a sheep, if it falls into a pit on the Sabbath, will not take hold of it and lift it out?” (Matthew 12:11). But the point of the story is this: God wasn’t rewarding Leon’s theology. God could care less about Theology. God loved Leon’s fully devoted heart. Leon Loved the Lord, and the Lord loved Leon. The hail did come, and those ranches only got some of their crop in. Except Leon. For some strange reason, all of that hail just seemed to miss Leon’s fields. Not one iota of damage hit Leon’s crops that Leon could see. On Monday, he started to harvest his own wheat – without the help of his neighbors – and got it all in that week, intact. His neighbors had a lot of their wheat destroyed and knocked down by the hail. Leon honored the Lord with his life. The Lord honored Leon IN his life.
Back to Psalm 78:46. So locusts are a symbol to me. A symbol of the world’s curse, and a symbol of our own disobedience. When we disobey the Lord, we open ourselves up to the curse of the Locusts. Egypt disobeyed a direct command from the Lord, and God sent locusts to them. Leon’s friends refused to bow their knee and honor God, and then made fun of their friend who loved Jesus. So God sent them some “locusts” in the form of hail. Not because God is mean, or is punishing them, but because He is loving – trying to turn their hearts to Him like it says in Amos 4:6.
I want God’s blessing in my life. More than that, I want God’s blessing in my family. I want a healthy family tree. I do not want the locusts of Psalm 78:46 to invade my family tree. Locusts are a physical representation of a spiritual reality. Demonic forces – “spiritual termites” I call them – can destroy a family tree through disobedience of the parents. I came across this verse the other day that made me stop in my tracks. It reminded me that the health of my family tree is dependent upon my obedience to my God. If I walk away from God, or choose to disobey Him, I invite the locusts into my life, and locusts don’t play…
Joel 1:4 – What the cutting locust left, the swarming locust has eaten. What the swarming locust left, the hopping locust has eaten, and what the hopping locust left, the destroying locust has eaten.
Like Leon, I want to honor God with my life. If you have been walking away from God, and are tired of the locusts, then do an “about-face!” God is ready to hear you! He longs to walk with you and spend time with you!
Joel 2:12-25, “Yet even now,” declares the Lord, “return to me with all your heart, with fasting, with weeping, and with mourning; and rend your hearts and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love; and he relents over disaster…I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the hopper, the destroyer, and the cutter, my great army, which I sent among you.”