Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Safe Place - Psalm 34 - We Seek Security

The young lions do lack and suffer hunger; but they who seek the LORD shall not be in want of any good thing. Come, you children, listen to me; I will teach you the fear of the LORD. Who is the man who desires life and loves length of days that he may see good? Keep your tongue from evil and your lips from speaking deceit. Depart from evil and do good; Seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the LORD are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against evildoers, to cut off the memory of them from the earth. The righteous cry, and the LORD hears and delivers them out of all their troubles. (Psalms 34:10-17)

Before going to the counsel of David at Psalm 34, consider a strange phenomenon researchers have discovered.  

Airline travel is statistically far safer than any alternative method of transportation, yet about 20 percent of people say they have "great fear" of flying – or simply do not fly at all. It is far safer, for example, than traveling by automobile.  So, many Americans get behind the wheel rather than trust themselves to machinery they don’t understand and people they don’t know.

We know by the numbers that being carried to your destination by tons of metal thrust through the air by huge jet engines is measurably safer than being pulled along in a 4-, 6-, or 8-cylinder machine whose wheels never leave the ground.  But it’s a psychological rather than factual thing!  People without experience in flying resist it because it "just seems to make more sense" that staying on the ground is safer than being propelled through the air. Spiritual experience has some parallels to what I have just described.

Believing in a God we haven’t seen who promises to take us to a place we’ve never been by a method that requires trusting something other than ourselves is just too much to ask of some people.  Many more people would probably accept Christ when somebody devises a system wherein faith is faith in their own ability to remain in control of the machinery. (Come to think of it, there are lots of these legalistic religious systems on the market already!)

Paul produced these words from jail – an imprisonment that would end with his martyrdom. "That is why I am suffering as I am. Yet I am not ashamed, because I know whom I have believed, and am convinced that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him for that day." 2 Timothy 1:12 He embraced a religion that meant suffering and possibly even death and he was perfectly confident and secure in his decision.  Maybe we’ve been missing something.  What we’ve been missing has been available at least since David wrote Psalm 34 – a thousand years before Jesus was born.

All of us want security in our lives but it seems we go looking for it in all the wrong places. Money can make the people who have it feel secure, powerful, and practically immortal. But they are deceived. Jesus told of the foolish man who tried to store up riches on earth only to find there’s no security in "things."  They’re too unstable.  Everything is great – then a heart attack or stroke pulls down the curtain. There’d better be something more permanent that "stuff" to make you feel safe.

People! That’s it. We’ll find good people and build good relationships. We’ll find the right person and marry her/him. We’ll live in a good neighborhood and make friends. And then we’ll be secure. We’ll feel safe. Everything will be wonderful. Sorry, it doesn’t work that way either. Here are more lines from Paul in II Timothy 4 while he was in jail at Rome: Do your best to come to me quickly, for Demas, because he loved this world, has deserted me... v.9-17a  At my first defense no one supported me, but all deserted me; ... But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me, 16-17a  People aren’t always dependable either. Friends get busy and move on with their lives; sometimes they just stop being friends.  Yet he was secure. He felt safe even facing death.  But the Lord stood with me and strengthened me.  That’s the key! The presence and strength of the Lord create safety!

Scripture to Claim:
Uphold me that I may be safe, that I may have regard for Your statutes continually. (Psalms 119:117)

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