There are lots of reasons to look for an escape these days. For those of us who consider ourselves conservatives and followers of Jesus, the odds of finding anything uplifting or encouraging in current news reports make winning the lottery powerball seem like a sure thing. Many of us, perhaps most of us, feel caught in a national nightmare from which we can’t wake up.
Casualties Not Included ~ The list of COVID fatalities that began in 2020 includes more than the tragic loss of hundreds of thousands of our people. Many of the freedoms and privileges that defined our way of life should be included in the list of casualties. Things like reasonable autonomy for owners of private businesses fell victim to the pandemic panic almost immediately. Freedom of speech, at least for those with conservative views, was already being choked to death in the realm of social media and most university campuses, and the pandemic only sped up the process. Direct human contact and interaction at every level began to be scrutinized like never before, except, of course, for wealthy elites and leftist government officials.
Restrictive mandates continue to pop up like toadstools after a soaking rain, and there is no letup in sight at this point. It’s not surprising that more and more people are looking for some way out. Multitudes just want to be free from it all, to go “off the grid” and escape somewhere and hide until this awful time blows over. That desire is understandable, and it’s not unique to this culture or to this time in history. David expressed it with divine clarity thousands of years ago, and his plea to God is both an eloquent expression and an accurate description of the feeling being shared by many in our day:
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).
Terms We Can Relate To ~ David’s words seem to fit our current circumstances well. There’s certainly no shortage of reasons for complaining and moaning “noisily”, and flying off to some peaceful, secluded place to get away from it all sounds more appealing every day. Intrusive ordinances levied without warning, without representation, and without recourse are sounding more and more like the voice of the enemy David mentioned. Attacks against personal liberties supposedly guaranteed by our Constitution, are making his term, oppression of the wicked, sound appropriate, and we join his lament that they do indeed bring down trouble upon us. Small wonder, then, that so many followers of Jesus would join David in his poignant plea and wish for wings to fly away. It’s all very understandable, but a way out is not what God would have us looking for. The fallacy in that kind of thinking was illustrated in a powerful message I heard years ago, and the point is worth making again.
The evangelist began by reviewing a litany of familiar complaints making the rounds at the time. Then he went through a list of reasons to justify giving up and getting away from it all and followed it up with a couple of questions. “How many of you ever feel like David felt?” he asked, and then added, “How many of you wish you could just fly away like a dove and get away from everything until better days come along?” Hands went up all over the auditorium, joined by an abundance of passionately expressed “Amens”.
A Profound Observation ~ He let the idea sink in a bit, and then issued a directive. “Ya’ll take a minute and look carefully at the folks sittin’ around you.” Then, after pausing for dramatic effect, he asked slowly, “Ya’ll see any wings on anybody?” He inserted another pause, and a harsh look to shut down the giggling. Then, in his characteristic southern drawl and with masterful timing, he delivered this profound observation: “Ya’ll ain’t got no wings.”
I’m guessing you’ve already noticed that you don’t have any wings either. We can relate to how David felt, but hiding from the threats and seeking his own peace in some isolated place was not what he was sent to do. The evil forces perverting God’s principles and tearing the nation apart were pervasive and powerful, but David was equipped by God with all he needed to overcome them, and he was sent to do precisely that. He was God’s living, breathing response to the evil oppressing them and an answer to the prayers of many who were suffering worse than he was. Our calling and our role are much the same.
A Mission to Fulfill, not a Mandate to Flee ~ When Jesus returned to the Father, He equipped and dispatched His followers to carry on the mission He began. During His High Priestly prayer, Jesus said this about His disciples:
As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world. (John 17:18 NKJV)
And again prior to His crucifixion, He said the same thing to them directly:
So Jesus said to them again, “Peace to you! As the Father has sent Me, I also send you. (John 20:21 NKJV)
Oppressive conditions are nothing new to the Church of Jesus Christ. Opposition and overwhelming odds have been almost commonplace since it was commissioned, but Jesus promised that even the gates of hell itself would not prevail against it (Matthew 16:18). Paradoxically, the times when running away have seemed to be the most appealing are the times when the power of God to save the lost and to defend and deliver His own is most clearly revealed.
You might say that we’re on God’s “no fly list.” We aren’t given wings to fly away because it’s not what we were sent to do. This is a time for us to reveal who we are and why we’re
here more clearly than ever before. Millions are suffering and praying for deliverance, and we are the ones equipped with what they need. We are God’s response to evil in the world, and it’s time to stop whining and get to the work of doing what we were sent to do.
Something Better than Wings ~ As the Apostle Paul declared, we have something far better than wings. We have weapons the darkness can’t defeat and we have armor the enemy can’t penetrate.
Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having girded your waist with truth, having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking the shield of faith with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit. (Ephesians 6:13–18 NKJV)
And most importantly, the rejuvenating strength we need and the peace we seek aren’t found in flying away. They’re found in the presence of the One who indwells and empowers us, and Who has already been victorious over the last battle we’ll ever fight and the worst enemy we will ever face.
“TWEETABLES” ~ Click to tweet and share from the pull quotes below. Each one links directly back to this article through Twitter . . .
- “David was God’s living, breathing response to the evil oppressing them and an answer to the prayers of many who were suffering worse than he was. Our calling and our role are much the same.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The times when running away have seemed to be the most appealing are the times when the power of God to save the lost and to defend and deliver His own is most clearly revealed.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “We aren’t given wings to fly away because it’s not what we were sent to do. This is a time for us to reveal who we are and why we’re here more clearly than ever before.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “Millions are suffering and praying for deliverance, and we are the ones equipped with what they need. We are God’s response to evil in the world, and it’s time to stop whining and get to the work of doing what we were sent to do.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
- “The rejuvenating strength we need and the peace we seek are found in the presence of the One who indwells and empowers us, and Who has already been victorious over the last battle we’ll ever fight and the worst enemy we will ever face.” @GallaghersPen (Click here to Tweet)
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© 2021 Gallagher’s Pen, Ronald L. Gallagher, Ed.S. All rights reserved.
I’ll admit to having to look up the meaning of “toadstool”…
Great timely message for what the Christian response should be to the current state of the USA. My favorite line was ” We are God’s response to evil in the world, and it’s time to stop whining and get to the work of doing what we were sent to do. ” Thank you Ron!
Thanks for the smile re. what a “toadstool” is. I heard it all my life growing up, and never really thought about it when I made the comment. In any case, your comments always leave me feeling blessed, encouraged, and humbled. Diane and I pray that God will continue use you and your family in a powerful way to strengthen and encourage others. Faithfulness always shines out like a beacon in times when many are searching for something they can trust and a reason to have hope.
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Amen my friend! As much as I pray “Come Lord”, I also pray that “… if there is to be a revival in America and the world; if there is to be a recovery of the large percentage of the church that are deceived, divided, and disillusioned, then let it begin with me Lord.” As much as I want to flee from this fight sometimes, I remind myself the foe I am truly facing (Satan) is already defeated. I don’t have to win the war, it’s already been won. My job is to fight the battles in this life by shining God’s light into this ever-darkening world. We can’t fight a battle with our backs to the enemy as we flee! It’s time, now perhaps more than ever before in our lives, to #StandUpForChrist. To borrow and adapt a phrase from my military days; “I am Christian, victorious in battle. Follow Me!”
Let me be quick to send an “Amen!!!” back to you, J.D. You hit the bull’s eye dead center re. the need for some spiritual house cleaning in the Church of Jesus Christ. I believe very strongly that an awakening and a revival in this land is going to have to be from the grass roots up. I don’t think it’s going to happen because some charismatically gifted orator is going to rise up and gather everyone to him (that sounds more like what the Antichrist is going to do, doesn’t it?). God has a long history of picking weak nobodies to get His work done instead of iconic religious rock stars, and I don’t think that’s about to change. If and when a national revival begins, some new leaders will emerge, no doubt, but I don’t think they will come from among the privileged elite. Either way, you and I can go full bore with confidence in Him because, like you said so well, our victory’s already won and our exit ramp will lead us home no matter when and where we encounter it. Thanks again for the reminder that we’re not alone in the fight. God bless you, my friend, and may the One who called and equipped you continue to keep your heart on fire and your words powerful in the hearts of those who read them and hear them.
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Now is not the time to turn tail and run (or fly), but to stand up boldly, proclaiming the message of Christ’s salvation, reaching out to the hurting and the lonely, and be the persons that God created us to be. If He is with us, who can be against us?
Thanks, Martha, and as usual, you’re right on every count. Realizing that we are God’s answer to multitudes of prayers for genuine hope and encouragement in these days of fear and confusion. We may feel small and weak, and indeed, without Him we are, but small, weak vessels have been a favorite of His for thousands of years. As you said so succinctly, “if He is with us, who can be against us?” God bless you, and thanks for standing your ground with courage and faithfulness.
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