Today I woke up with a profound sense of gratitude and thanks for a number of possessions and services with which I am blessed, but have all too often arrogantly used without a thought to the level of blessing to which these "things" have lifted me. What things? Well, things like air conditioning in the summer, heat in the winter, running water, virtually uninterrupted electrical power, in house refrigeration and freezing, medicine, 24/7 news access, books, audio recordings of my own favorites musicians and video recordings of my Hollywood favorites and so on ad infinitum! All of these wonderful blessings are possessions which have come to define a lifestyle for me - a lifestyle I keep taking for granted and in which I continue to place my trust for security, happiness and well-being. Am I knocking these possessions as wicked or evil in themselves? Of course not! I am, however, "knocking" an attitude to which I too easily surrender that fails to take into account the Who behind all of these "whats". It is important that I keep this attitude in check, because a failure to reign my perspective in can result in my looking to the wrong sources for my strength, joy and well-being.
I am particularly mindful of the placement of my confidence as President Obama is scheduled to hold a carefully orchestrated, nationally televised question and answer session outlining his plans for improving health care provision for the United States. Since I have not seen the presentation, I will not criticize it in this entry. Nevertheless, having observed the pre-broadcast reactions to this presentation from people of virtually every range of the political spectrum, I do have a few reflective thoughts on ultimate trust that I'd like to share.
Anyone who pays attention to Biblical history can't help but notice an astonishing characteristic of the human psyche - even when god provides everything we need, it's not enough! Think back to the book of Exodus. People were struggling with issues akin to those with which we struggle today - the suspension of human rights through slave labor, general abuses inflicted by an authoritarian Government, infanticide, extravagant lifestyles maintained at the expense of common laborers, etc. The Israeli people had developed some powerful questions in reaction to these heartbreaking conditions - Where is God? What is He doing to do about it? Fast forward through the book just a bit, and we see Moses in a face to face encounter with God. When one considers the essence of Moses' questions, they are similar to questions asked in our own time. To paraphrase and condense Moses' conversation, he makes two important observations: "Sir, how can truly call on You when we don't know you Name?" and "How can we follow You, when we can't even SEE You?" Pretty good questions! The amazing and wonderful reality is that the Lord answered both questions for Moses. First of all, He told Moses His Name - "I AM" - second, He manifested Himself in a form that Moses and the people of Israel could literally see and follow day or night. What makes this so remarkable is that each time you read of a rebellion amongst the people of Israel, the rebellions occurred WHILE they could see the presence of the Lord with them, knowing His Name and character, but totally ignoring the reality of God's provision in their lives at the same time! They grew tired of the food, tired of the protection, tired of the direct guidance, tired of the very presence of God!
This history should serve as a warning for us as we seek to live, move and have our being in the 21st century. I believe that the core of the warning is this: If God Himself couldn't satisfy the deepest needs of human beings having created them and known them from the beginning, inside and out, what makes any of us think a government or anyone else can satisfy us? There is something within that makes us given to complaint and ungratefulness, even when we are drowning in abundance. I am not arguing that good health is a luxury, but rather cautioning against thinking that even the provision of flawless health care would result in ultimate happiness. Actor George Hamilton, as suave and sophisticated as a debonair playboy can be, was asked that having achieved virtually everything, what he really wanted out of life. His answer was simple: "More!"
The pursuit of "More" or even the struggle our basic needs amounts to living a life in pursuit of rainbows. While the Lord has given us gifts, talents and abilities designed to give us the tools we need to live and to help others, we must not ever allow the pursuit of happiness or even better health care to replace the One Who provided the ability to pursue happiness and health care in the first place. Nothing can replace God. We were made to have deep and meaningful fellowship with Him. All of our struggles, hurts, pains and pursuits should lead us back to the place where we realize that we will never attain satisfaction without an acknowledgement of God and relationship with Him. Why talk to the inanimate toy, when you can have wonderful friendship with the Living "Toy Maker"?
As we continue to struggle on this "Terrestrial Ball" with issues like peace, the economy, the environment, education, poverty and health care, let us remember the ultimate Source of our confidence. Psalm 20:7 puts it this way:
Some trust in chariots and some in horses, but we trust in the name of the LORD our God.
If you are a Christan, don't forget that leaders come and go as do their philosophies and administrations. Yet, our God reigns forever! He no longer needs to put the Pillar before you, because now He has placed the Pillar within you by abiding with You through the person of the Holy Spirit. So when you're tempted to look for "chariots, horses" or other worldly sources of security for your personal sense of well-being, remember that the Fire within is able to see you through whatever this life or the world might throw your way. Don't trust the chariot, don't depend on the horse, but "light the Fire" within your soul, knowing that God will not disappoint, but longs to satisfy you in ways that no Army, health care plan or World Leader ever could. Trust in the Lord! Until next time...