Wednesday, January 17, 2007

But God #2

But God #2

And David remained in the strongholds in the wilderness, in the hill country of the Wilderness of Ziph. And Saul sought him every day, but God did not give him into his hand. -- 1 Samuel 23:14; English Standard Version (emphasis mine)

I love "historical" movies. One of my favorites is Gods and Generals, which is an account of some of the events of the American Civil War (more correctly known as "The War of Northern Aggression" ;-p). It's not the best movie ever made, but I liked the way the movie portrayed the faith of Confederate General Thomas "Stonewall" Jackson. At one point bullets are flying all around him and Gen. Jackson is unfazed. Later he testifies, when asked how he kept so calm, that he had nothing to fear because God was the one that controlled whether he lived or died.

It wasn't portrayed as arrogance; rather it was portrayed as simple faith that trusted God.

That's the "But God" we see today. It's the "But God" kind of faith that lives a life that is NOT crippled by fear.

How many people spend much of their time worrying about this, that or the other thing? How many are made lame by worry, slowed down by insecurity, or literally disabled by different fears? I think there are many.

Today's verse comes from a time in David's life in which he was being pursued by Israel's first king, Saul. Saul wanted David dead. David hid in a mountainous region which provided much natural cover. He was surrounded by 600 men that were totally devoted to him (23:13). A person might say that David was pretty safe in Ziph and had nothing to fear from Saul. Phooey! It wasn't the naturally difficult terrain or the many men that stood behind David that insured his safety; it was the "BUT GOD" factor!

David had men. David had the security of a mountainous region in which to hide. None of those things stopped Saul! The Bible clearly says that Saul sought David every day, "but God did not give him into his hand." At one point Saul led 3,000 choice soldiers out to find David, but God preserved David. See, it's the "BUT GOD" factor!

We may make our plans, set up our defenses, hide in our places of safety, but, in all honesty, the only hope for any of us lies in nothing "BUT GOD". We may worry about the schemes of others; we may constantly fear the forces at work which are out of our control, but God is all we really need to get through ANYTHING.

No fear. No worry. No nail-biting-can-I-get-through-another-moment-of-this-rotten-situation / existence kind of debilitating weirdness of life. No; we stand in the face of a world that is crumbling around us, people who use us and a real devil that hates us screaming with utter joy from the top of our lungs, "I cannot defeat any of you, BUT GOD is over all and NONE OF YOU scare me!"

From the Wilderness of Ziph to the Stronghold of Engedi to the office of our boss to the line of our neighbors yard to feared whispers of a doctor's report and at every stop and twitch in between life is happening, BUT GOD has a proactive hand and an eternal plan. We must simply trust HIM. Yes, all the evil of the universe may plot and scheme against us, all the pain of life may hang over our mortal bodies, all the hate of sinful man may come against us, even the crumbling decay of nature may at any moment sweep us away in disaster, BUT GOD...

Left to my own devices I may wither. Planting my own defenses I may be overcome. Trusting my own wisdom I will be fooled. Relying on my own discipline I will fall. Counting on others to bail me out will often find me alone. But God, who is rich in mercy, will never change; will never forsake me, will always work in spite of what I or others do. Yes, depressed in the shadow of the valley of human despair, exposed on the plains of human weakness, and even in the mountain of human (so-called) strength I am confident in the "BUT GOD" factor.

I don't rely on me and that may be the best thing I've got going. I run out of ideas, strength, resolve and every other thing one could possibly muster, BUT GOD is inexhaustible; BUT GOD is ever-watchful; BUT GOD is truly in control.

Yes, I relish the thought that when all is falling apart, when all the odds are stacked against me I can whisper, shout, cry, or laugh my way to heaven's bank knowing nothing can come touch my account...BUT GOD.

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