I’m doing something today that I’m not in the habit of doing. Today marks the 15th anniversary of the worst attack we’ve ever suffered as a nation. In light of that, a piece I wrote last spring seems too relevant and appropriate to ignore, so I’m re-posting part of it again today.
I overheard a guy say to a friend recently that he was “sick and tired of newspapers, TV news, politics, and everything else.” He declared that he was shutting down and disengaging from all of it, and the other guy jumped in with animated affirmation. It’s understandable. Every hint of news seems to be devoid of anything good these days. 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. That desire is 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 paused long enough to heighten the impact of his next comment. 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.
A Time When Everyone’s Running
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 hoses and chemicals 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 power 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.
Which Way Are You Running?
In these troubling days, all of us can relate to David’s prayer at times. 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 prepares and sends His own to run in a different direction. They have equipment that others don’t have, but wings to fly away to some safer place are not part of the package. Instead, they’re sent straight into the thick of the fracas, because they have what the trouble at hand calls for. They have the ‘water of life’, the ‘light’ of God’s 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 to save were found running in the wrong direction. On this anniversary of that awful day, and in the midst of continuing attacks on the foundations of our way of life, which way are you running?
© 2016 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
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