I am secure

I am Secure: Safe in His Providential Care

time in hand“But as for me, I trust in you, oh Lord… My times are in your hands.”

~Psalm 31:14-15a, NASB

This little nugget of beauty is stuck in the middle of a lament. The verse before ends with “they scheme to take away my life.”

Some wonder how one can live with hope when they are surrounded by despair. Here is the anchor, the hand-hold on truth:  My times are in God’s hands. And this God is mighty in power, gentle in spirit, loving at heart and good in all He does. Though thunder rolls and waves crash and fires blaze all around, my life is kept secure in the immutable hand of God. Things may not make sense from where I stand, but His plan is sure and will not be thwarted.

I often listen to Alistair Begg while I’m on the elliptical at our local YMCA, and this week I went through his series called “my times are in your hands,” which came straight from Psalm 31. I loved what he had to say about this verse, this security.

“I am not trapped in the grip of blind force.”

In other words, my life is not shackled to an ambivalent fate. My life, my everyday living and doing; my past, my present and my future is held fast by the very hands of creation.

I am secure

My Stuff Doesn’t Make Me Secure

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever. I John 2:15-17 ESV

You would think, for a former missionary, that this would be an easy one, right? Yeah – not so much.

I’ve realized, since we returned to the States, a subtle shift in my thinking. At first, moving home was sort of like walking into a candy store. Oh, wow, now I can buy a house, and my kids can do all this cool extra-curricular stuff that wasn’t available overseas, and we’ll all be happy and prosperous. And secure.

The Holy Spirit had to nudge me then, in our first months after resignation. Even in North America, He told me, my contentment and my security was to be found in him. I listened, sort of, while I bought the house and signed my kids up for soccer and Girl Scouts and basketball and … hmm. Funny. None of that felt as satisfying as I envisioned it would when I was sitting overseas.

It wasn’t that I regretted returning to the States. God had clearly led us here, and I had (still have) complete peace about that decision. The problem wasn’t geographical. It was heart-o-graphical. I had begun to set my heart on the things of the world instead of Him.

And, it goes further than houses and soccer games. It goes right to the heart of American culture itself. Americans are all about finding financial security. Sure, lots of us don’t have it. Many Americans even live contrary to the principles that produce it, but we all want it: enough money to live on right now, enough to go out to eat and buy what I want. Enough saved for retirement, enough to send the kids to college, enough for a vacation every now and then. And then, just in case, we take out life insurance and health insurance and car insurance and disability insurance and long-term care insurance.

If I had all that, why then I’d be secure. I’ve thought that very sentence. Have you? It’s a lie to its core. All that – the salaries and annuities and insurance – will be gone in one fiery instant. If some war or financial catastrophe doesn’t do it, our own deaths or Christ’s return will. What will remain, then?

God. The Great Depression did not touch God. Neither did any war that has ever wiped a nation and all its financial infrastructure off the map. No money crisis has ever affected God, and none ever will. He is the only place we can truly find security.

Houses and soccer leagues, pay checks and IRAs – these are not sinful things by themselves. They can be gifts from God. But when we look for contentment in them, we’ll come up empty. And when we look for security among them, we’ll find that we’ve built our lives on quicksand. Instead, Jesus beckons us to do what seems extremely unwise to an American’s eyes – to live wholeheartedly for him, even if that means financial insecurity, discomfort or even suffering.

Whoever tries to make his life secure will lose it, and whoever loses his life will preserve it. Luke 17:33 HCS

I am secure

I am Secure: Unshakable Walls

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, to an inheritance incorruptible and undefiled and that does not fade away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith for salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.” ~ 1 Peter 1:3-5, NKJV

Sometimes salvation seems like such a lofty, far off term. I have a perennial problem with being short-sighted. I see the challenges in front of me and they are all that occupy my thoughts. I end up consumed by worry or doubt or by making plans for whatever I think needs done, and I become dizzied by all this needless concern.

But I have a living hope. I have been lavished with abundant mercy. If the God who poured Himself out for me has also drenched me with hope and blessing and love, why do I get lost in the concerns and stresses of this life?

Remember, my thin heart, that He has not only loved you, not only given you hope and mercy, but he keeps you. You have an inheritance that will not spoil, will not be taken, cannot be lost, because He keeps you secure.

Like a city surrounded by an unshakeable wall whose gates are guarded by unfailing watchers, I am kept by the hand of God. Nothing could be more secure.

I am secure

I am Secure in the Storm

“Therefore, everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them will be like a sensible man who built his house on a rock. The rain fell, the rivers rose, and the winds blew and pounded the house. Yet it didn’t collapse, because its foundation was on the rock. But everyone who hears these words of Mine and doesn’t act on them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, the rivers rose, the winds blew and pounded the house, and it collapsed, and its collapse was great!” Matt. 7:24-27 HCS

My husband and I took our baby and fled the civil war in the West African country we loved. All the doctors left the bush country, too, and looters stripped the pharmacies. Then, an epidemic hit our village. The illness, undiagnosed and incurable without modern medicine, killed dozens of children, including the 4-year-old daughter of my best friend, Clarice.

“See?” another African woman told her. “Your Christian faith didn’t save your daughter. The ancestors are punishing you for not worshipping them anymore.”
Clarice straightened her back. “God’s word says the rain falls on the righteous and the unrighteous. Many children of non-Christians died, too. I will not desert my God.”

In her deluge, Clarice was secure.

How can I say that? Her daughter died. Her country was at war. The answer: Clarice was secure in Jesus—not in anything on this earth. She was a woman who truly knew who she was in Christ.

There is a myth in Christianity, I think, that says something like, “If I follow God, he’ll give me a safe, happy, secure life.” But in Matthew 7, Christ made it clear that trials will storm down on us whether we follow Him or not. Jobs will be lost. Relationships will end. Tornados will tear up towns. And civil wars will take 4-year-olds away from their mothers.

Jesus did not promise secure circumstances. He promised a secure foundation – Himself. If we build our lives on Jesus, constructing them with obedience to his commands, when the trials come – and they will – we will stand, secure in the storm. But, if we build our lives on anything else, those same troubles will crush us. I so need to remember this right now, during a difficult season in my own life.

“Blessed is a man who endures trials, because when he passes the test he will receive the crown of life that He has promised to those who love Him” James 1:12 HCS

I sure hope I get to attend the awards ceremony in heaven when Clarice’s receives hers.

I am secure

I am Secure: A Joint Post

 

“My sheep hear My voice, I know them, and they follow Me.  I give them eternal life, and they will never perish—ever! No one will snatch them out of my hand” ~John 10:27-28 HCS

From Susan

My husband, Steve, carrying two porcupines but no warthog, walked back to the village outpost, which was nothing more than a couple of mud huts and a watering hole.  He and his West African hunting buddies sank into bamboo chairs in the shade under a rice-sack lean-to.  They’d have to wait until evening to try again.  The conversation died down, and a few of the men drifted off to sleep.

Steve was awake, though, when two flocks of sheep arrived at the watering hole from two different directions, each led by a Fulani man carrying a shepherd’s stick across his shoulders.  Sheep from both flocks melded together in one bleating, thirsty mass.  The shepherds spread out their mats under a mango tree and brewed tea over a little fire while the animals drank and milled around.

About an hour later, one of the shepherds stood to leave.  He didn’t even glance at the sheep.  He just took out a tin can and beat a rhythm on it as he walked away.Fulani Shepherd

Half the sheep scrambled, pushed and even climbed over others in a frantic effort to follow him.  The shepherd chose a path next to Steve’s lean-to, and the sheep, many running to catch up, did too.

The other half of the sheep? They just hung out at the watering hole, unfazed.  Their shepherd still sat beneath the tree.

From Jen

As Christians, we may mingle and blend with another flock, but the sheep who belong to the Savior follow His voice. In Him we have safety. In Him we have everything we need.

Sheep need the care of the shepherd. Left to their own, they overgraze their food source, and have a tendency to get themselves in difficult, life-threatening situations. They simply need the overseeing protection of one who is wiser and who can meet the needs they are unable to meet on their own.

No wonder God often uses the image of a shepherd and his sheep. Left to our own, we take the good in front of us and misuse it to our destruction, we let ‘blessings’ over come us until we cannot stand under the weight of it all, and we love to see how far we can stretch the boundaries until we find ourselves in difficult, sometimes life-threatening situations.

We need His care. His protection.

Security comes from the shepherd. He tends His flock with wisdom and love. He leads us to green pastures and guides us to calm waters. He meets every one of our needs.

And all I need to do? Simply follow His voice.