Wednesday, December 19, 2018

You don't need a new lampshade

All of us need to be 'set straight' from time to time - some of us more frequently than others. I have a lampshade in the house that seems to always be askew, no matter how many times I make those adjustments, I will return to find it is somehow out of whack again. I could just toss the thing and start from scratch, but it is a perfectly good lampshade! Why would I get a new one? Well, some would think the straightening was not worth the hassle, while others would see the shade as defective. Too many times, I think we see the obstacle and give up on it rather than dealing with it. I guess some may flee when obstacles stand in their way, but I tend to see the obstacle as just another bump in the road!

I've already run for dear life straight to the arms of God. So why would I run away now...  God's business is putting things right; he loves getting the lines straight, setting us straight. Once we're standing tall, we can look him straight in the eye. (Psalm 11:1, 7)

David is being challenged to flee to the hills - run away, escape, make himself scarce - so his enemies don't overtake him, so a challenge does not overwhelm him. He has two choices - stand and face what comes his way, or flee and count on the mountains to protect him. His answer to this obstacle - he sees no sense in fleeing to the mountains. Why? God has not made his residence in the mountains, but in David's heart! The obstacles won't deter him from remembering where his help comes from.

David has put his trust in God's keeping grace - he is counting on being held in the hands of God regardless of the circumstances that are coming his way. He relates his trust in his affirmation of where it is that he has found his hope - in God's arms. Then he gives us insight into the hope he has - God is in the business of setting things right - so the solution is at hand! God not only orchestrates the situation, but he "orchestrates us" throughout that situation. He delights in setting things in order - marking out a path to follow and then walking with us along that path. For that reason alone, David will not flee when the going gets rough. For that reason alone, we should hold steady in the face of obstacles.

It is natural to desire to flee - it is part of our make-up to want to preserve what we already have found enjoyment in - to not want things to change. David says he finds great joy in keeping himself near to the heart of God. You cannot get closer to the heart of someone than being in their arms! His is not a casual relationship with God - it is one that has developed - there is evidence of intimate communion. God has drawn him near, set him upright, and now he is looking God in the eye - no shame, no fear, no barrier to intimate fellowship with a holy God. Why? Because God has set things right in his heart.

Herein we are given a glimpse into our choice in conflict - run and hide, or stand and be strong in the power of the Lord. I'd like to think we'd all choose the latter, but I know the reality of our fickle emotions - we sometimes run! When we find ourselves ready to "bolt", we would do well to ask the question: "Is God going to be more present, more available, more willing to meet with us wherever it is we are running than he is in the midst of the challenge we are facing?" If we have truly asked ourselves that question in sincerity, we likely will know the answer is "no". We can ditch the lampshade, but is that the best solution?

Running affords only a temporary escape from the present conflict. Wherever we go, conflict inevitably will occur. There is really no escape - just a chance to face what "giants" lie before us and take them on in the power found in relying on his grace to get us through. Running is a means of "going around" what gives us concern - rather than facing it head on. God's method of dealing with the obstacle is to face things head on. So, whatever the challenge today - whatever the conflict or obstacle you face - run to the arms of Jesus first. There you will find all you need for the way to be made straight, with your own life ordered in such a way that you will be able to face the challenge ahead. Just sayin!