Faith Baptist Church of State College, Pennsylvania

You've Come a Long Way, Baby!

Some of us remember hearing this expression while watching TV many moons ago. Virginia Slims used this assertion to advertise its cigarettes for women. On the screen flashed a black and white, still picture of a “yesteryear” woman dressed in Victorian-styled dress. Then, in front of our eyes, a “modern” woman colorfully dressed in a pants suit walked jauntily onto the screen while smoking a Virginia Slims. A voice was immediately heard saying, “You’ve come a long way, Baby” with the implied connotation that this was a “good” thing.

Many of us would argue against the connoted point of the Virginia Slims commercial. Our argument would not simply be based in a given situation; rather, many of us would argue that “coming a long way” may, at times, be a “bad” thing.
Recently, I’ve been pondering this principle in light of King Asa. He “came a long way” in his 41 years as king of Judah; yet, it was not good but very bad.

King Asa started out in a very good way. During the first ten years of his reign, he did that which was good and right in the sight of the Lord (2 Chr. 14:2). Indeed, in the tenth year of his reign, he called to the Lord while being attacked by Zerah the Ethiopian saying, “LORD, there is no one besides Thee to help in the battle...” (2 Chr. 14:11). In times of battle, I have often been strengthened by this declaration of trust in the God who is our Help (Ps. 63:7). In the fifteenth year of his reign, Asa obeyed the word of the Lord through the prophet Azariah by removing idols and entering into covenant with Judah to seek the Lord (2 Chr. 15:8-15).

But then he “came a long way.” Twenty-one years later, during another occasion of being attacked, he trusted in man, not God, to save him from King Baasha of Israel (2 Chr 16:1-6). It worked; yet, God, through the seer Hanani, rebuked Asa’s wayward heart and declared, “From now on you will surely have wars” (2 Chr. 16:9). Shortly thereafter, during a time of severe foot disease, Asa sought the help of physicians only (2 Chr. 16:12), thus violating the very covenant that he had established with God some twenty-four years earlier (2 Chr. 15:12).

This tragic figure of antiquity is a lighthouse warning us to stay clear of the rocks of “coming a long way” away from the ways of the Lord. In a space of two decades, Asa “came a long way,” but it was a bad way. During battle, he went from trusting the Lord to trusting man. During sickness, he departed from seeking the Lord to seeking only the help of man.
In what areas of our walk have we “come a long way” from the ways of the Lord? “Thus says the LORD, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it; and you shall find rest for your souls. But they said, “We will not walk in it” (Jeremiah 6:16).

May God give us the grace to “walk in it.”

Your fellow-servant in Christ,