Truth be told. . . the news of recent days has rattled me. It has rattled me for the people of the Ukraine and all others who are being touched in unimaginable ways by this conflict. It has rattled me for my children and grandchildren as I remember my own childhood and living under the dark cloud of nuclear conflict. It has rattled me for the church as I wonder, have we really prepared ourselves and our kids well for life’s difficulties when our version of the “gospel” is more consumer-shaped and therapeutic than true to the true Gospel message of the Scriptures? And I am rattled personally as my relatively smooth and easy life appears to be hitting a stretch of unknown road that feeds my human fears.
Today, in our homes, our churches, and our youth groups, we are being served a kind of wake-up call. These days remind us that we are called to parent and pastor not with attractional methodologies that serve ultimately as misleading diversions, but to lean deeply and with urgency into the truths and promises of God’s Word. Life on this earth is difficult. . . and our kids need to know it. God has come in the flesh to redeem and restore. . . and He has promised to carry our burdens as we live in the shelter of His wings. . . and our kids need to it.
With that in mind, I want to share these words from the late Elisabeth Elliot, a woman who knew pain and heartache beyond what most of us can imagine or will ever experience. These are the words for today from her little devotional book, A Lamp Unto My Feet. Perhaps this is a good day to spend time in the Psalms, to marinate in Elliot’s words, and to pass them on to the children and teens you know and love.
News reports come every day concerning economic and political calamities about to befall us all, not to mention famines, tornadoes, earthquakes and volcanoes, things that may at any moment strike us or people we love. There are always plenty of good reasons to be afraid—unless you know that things are under control. A Christian has this inside information. Things are, in fact, under control. God is our Refuge, our Strength, our Mighty Fortress. Nothing will get by the moat of His protection without His permission. To be afraid of what happens today or what may happen tomorrow is not only an awful waste of energy, is not only useless, but is also disobedient. We are forbidden to fear anything but the Lord Himself.
When Christians in China were being hounded to death in the 1930’s, one of them (I am told) wrote this simple song, which has helped me in countless times of fear ever since I learned it as a high school girl:
I will not be afraid.
I will not be afraid.
I will look upward, and travel onward,
And not be afraid.
Willpower, of course, will not always overcome human emotions. But willed obedience to the One who is in charge, coupled with prayer for His help in vanquishing our natural fears, is something else.
Lord. . . fill us with a sense of your protective presence. . . and we pray that you would show mercy and grace where mercy and grace are desperately needed.