Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Who's In Charge Here?

When I was a teenager, the big bad bogeyman of the world was the Soviet Union. While previous generations had been taught to hide under their desks in case of a bomb, my generation watched the nuclear arms' race. Some of my teachers took great pleasure in telling us just how many times over the world could be blown up with current nuclear arsenals, and just how eager our enemies were  to push that button. Those accounts left me uneasy to say the least. The reality of evil disturbed me. Who was in charge, anyway? I believed in God, but I was not converted at that point, and I longed for some reassurance.

I have been a Christian now for 33 years, but I still have moments when I ask myself that same question. I don't think I'm the only one. The bogeymen are not gone; they just have different names. As Christians we face uncertainty about what is happening not only in the world, but to the Church; the Church has its own bogeymen.

In the Lord I Take Refuge

The psalmist in Psalm 11 opens with certainty: "In the Lord I take refuge." Yet, he faces the cries of the naysayers:
How can you say to my soul
"Flee like a bird to your mountain
for behold, the wicked bend the bow;
they have fitted their arrow to the string
to shoot in the dark at the upright in heart;
if the foundations are destroyed,
what can the righteous do?" (v.1b-4)
Do you ever feel powerless? Do you ever wonder "What can the righteous do?" It is difficult not to feel like everything is pointed against Christians. While we don't suffer nearly the kind of persecution that Christians in other part of the world endure, here in North America, Christianity is becoming more and more marginalized, and in some cases morally bankrupt. Yet all is not lost.
The Lord is in his holy temple;
The Lord's throne is in heaven; (v.4)

A Secure Presence

When I was twelve years old, I was able to stay home alone at night when my parents were out somewhere. While I enjoyed having the house to myself, by bed time, I was ready for them to return, and I would wait up until they got home. I wanted to know there was someone in the house. My parent's presence gave me a feeling of security. Just as I wanted to know my parents had arrived home and I was not alone, being reminded that the Lord is in his holy temple gives me a feeling of security. When that helpless feeling comes, I can rest in the truth that God is in control. He is with us. There may be times when we throw up our hands in despair and say "What can the righteous do?" but that is not a solution. Instead, we can be certain: the Lord is in his holy temple. When the whole world has gone mad, the reality is that God is right where he is supposed to be.

Putting trust in people and authorities only provides temporary security. We may think that our safety comes from authorities, political power, wealth, or personal influence. We may look for answers from social media or Christian celebrities, but we have something more sure, God himself.

Divine Favour

At the end of the psalm, in verse 7, we are told:

For the Lord loves the righteous
he loves righteous deeds;
the upright shall behold his face.

Alec Motyer, in his volume, Psalms By the Day, comments about verse 7: "It is not by flight (verse 1b) but by confidence in divine favour (verse 7) that life's challenges can be faced." Sometimes, life's challenges are the every day things: work, relationships, family. And sometimes, they are living in the shadow of disturbing news stories, natural disasters, and the fear of what is happening in and to the Church. But the remedy is the same. We must put our confidence in divine favour; in the hope of beholding his face. And that takes faith. It isn't always easy to just sit and wait when things around us are chaotic. But we can pray for the faith to cling to the certainty that God is in charge. And I am thankful that he is.