On Sunday night we had American Idol in our Student Ministry, and my cell phone received over 900 text messages from students voting during the 30 minutes of performances. I’m not sure if this is what crashed my phone, but for whatever reason I just received my seventh iPhone (side shout out to Apple Care for their great customer service) as I was writing this sentence. But this left me yesterday without cell phone coverage and I felt a little vulnerable. Without over exaggerating it, I did pause for a minute before leaving for lunch and thought, “What will I do if I get a flat tire or something worse happens?” It made me think about how dependent I have become on something that I didn’t even own until ten years ago. It also made me wonder how many “insurance policies” and backup plans I put faith in on an everyday basis.
Psalm 121 is one of my favorite chapters of the Bible. I read through these verses a lot this weekend as Becca and I went to her grandmother’s funeral on Saturday and celebrated her life. The Psalm starts by saying, “I lift up my eyes to the hills— where does my help come from? My help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth.” (Psalms 121:1–2) Right off the bat it lets you know who is in control of all things in the universe: God. Not only is He in control, but He is also described as our helper in this passage. What a powerful and freeing thought. The Psalm continues to show how He is intimately involved in caring for our lives. He watches over our lives and “will not sleep” on the job. In the ancient world this was a big deal, because their concept of God was one that was not too dissimilar from humans. So, when bad things happened to you, it was because God “was asleep at the wheel,” so to speak. But this is not the view of the Psalmist. The author goes on to say that He catches us when we fall. The chapter closes by saying, “The LORD will keep you from all harm— he will watch over your life; the LORD will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore.” (Psalms 121:7–8 NIV)
We all know that falling down is a part of life. We know that we are going to experience trouble in this world. Scripture even speaks to such ideas many times, particularly in 1 Peter: Peter says, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the painful trial you are suffering, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice that you participate in the sufferings of Christ, so that you may be overjoyed when his glory is revealed.” (1 Peter 4:12–13) So it’s not a question of whether or not we are going to get flat tires or eventually die, but it comes down to a question of who or what are you and I trusting in when these trials come? I’ve found that I practically have more faith in a stupid cell phone than I do in God many times. I’ve also found that I try to avoid all of the potential “flat tires” in my life rather than accepting them as God working out His purposes in and through me. It is a tough lesson to learn, an even harder habit to break, but I begin to turn back to God (through repentance). Repentance starts by confessing that my help comes from the LORD, the Maker of heaven and earth, not through AT&T, insurance plans or even the skill of a doctor. It also starts through remembering that this life is full of trouble, and God is there with us every step of the way.