Forgive me if I take the joy out of eating your next donut, but did you know that the size of your belly might indicate your risk of developing heart disease? Sorry about that, but in the interest of your health, I feel compelled to let you know that when the next Krispy Kreme heads south from your mouth, if its destination is more spacious than average, you might be in danger of more than a larger pant size. On the other hand, if you’re one of those guys who loves to whip off your shirt and remind the world that abdominal muscles do indeed exist, you should not be so quick to let your head get all swelled up about the fact that your belly isn’t. If you’re keeping your midsection under control by eating a bunch of artificial sweeteners and processed, low-fat food, well… you’re in trouble, too. There’s a crowd out there declaring that you should get a head start on your funeral plans, because all that stuff you eat to stay thin is going to kill you anyway. ‘The news’ is not very encouraging wherever you look these days. Even if we escape munching our way to certain death, there’s always the chance that some radical Islamic maniac who thinks his ticket to paradise comes through blowing us up is going to get next to us in line somewhere, regardless of whether the size of our belly is in the safe zone or not.
Every hint of good news lately seems to be countered with something that takes the ‘good’ out of it. Our values and way of life are under attack everywhere, and it’s not surprising that there are folks who want to go ‘off the grid’, and just get away and hide somewhere. That desire is understandable, and not unique to this culture, or to this time in history. David expressed it with divine clarity hundreds of years before Christ, and his words fit the feeling of many in our day with remarkable consistency.
“Give ear to my prayer, O God, and do not hide Yourself from my supplication. Attend to me, and hear me; I am restless in my complaint, and moan noisily, because of the voice of the enemy, because of the oppression of the wicked; for they bring down trouble upon me, And in wrath they hate me… So I said, “Oh, that I had wings like a dove! I would fly away and be at rest. Indeed, I would wander far off, and remain in the wilderness (Psalm 55:1-3; 6-7 NKJV).
Like David, we certainly have an abundance of complaints, and there’s no shortage of reasons to “moan noisily” and want to fly off to the wilderness. The “voice of the enemy” and the “oppression of the wicked” fill the news cycles every day, and their consistent mutilation of truth and manipulation of information “bring down trouble” upon us in more ways than we can keep up with. The overt hatred of those who oppose God’s truth is more blatantly exposed with every passing day, and is supported by a public media that has become, more than anything else, a political and ideological propaganda machine. Small wonder, then, that so many followers of Jesus would join David’s plea to God. But there’s a problem with that.
Years ago, I heard a preacher unload on David’s lament, and I love what he said. After delivering a litany of familiar complaints making the rounds at the time, and reviewing a smorgasbord of reasons to just give up and run away from it all, he leaned forward, sort of squinted at the congregation, and just paused for a minute. Then he said, “Let’s get one thing straight—ya’ll ain’t got no wings.” He made it dramatically clear that no matter what the danger, or how much David whined and pleaded with God, he didn’t get any wings. Then he went on to inform us that God’s not in the habit of helping His servants run away from problems and hide. Troubles and danger have piled up around us, and a desire to fly away from it all has come around again, but the preacher’s observation is worth remembering. “Ya’ll ain’t got no wings,” he said . . . and there’s a reason for that.
Among the inspirational images that stayed with me in the aftermath of 9/11 were the videos showing the first responders. When everyone else was running away from the danger, those guys were running full steam toward it. No one questioned why they did that, or suggested that everyone else should have turned and run toward those buildings along with them. That would only have compounded the problem, and multiplied the loss. Those guys running toward the burning buildings were not doing it because they wanted to be called heroes. They were doing it because they were the ones trained and equipped to help those trapped inside. It’s what they lived to do. Wouldn’t it be a troubling picture if they had not done that? What if the very ones who were sent to help, turned instead and ran away because the problems were overwhelming?
Those responders carried water to extinguish the blaze. They had oxygen with them, because the breath of life inside was being extinguished by the smoke. They carried lights, because the current was off and darkness reigned inside. They had medicine and bandages, because there were wounded and broken people trapped inside, and they carried hope with them simply by being there. They ran into the thick of it because it’s who they were, because they were the ones who had what was needed, and because if they didn’t help, nobody else would.
All of us can relate to David’s prayer at times these days. Truth is being choked out by lies and distortions, spiritual darkness seems to have cloaked everything, and a desire for wings to fly away and hide is not hard to find. But amid the chaos of people running away in one form or another, the Son of God sends His own to run in a different direction. They have equipment that others don’t, and wings to fly away to some safe place are not part of the package. Instead, they’re sent straight into the thick of the fracas. They have what the trouble at hand calls for, the ‘light’ of His truth, the ‘breath’ of His Spirit, and the hope of deliverance for the wounded and broken. It would be tragic indeed, if those who were equipped were found running in the wrong direction…
© 2016 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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