I am sitting at our host and hostess’ breakfast table, looking through the bay window – enjoying a view of dark green cherry laurels against taller bare gray-brown tree branches. A squirrel’s nest is evident in one of the trees. The morning is cloudy -- but – a sliver of blue sky intermittently breaks through, reminding me that today may well be all the weather forecasters predicted – sunny and unseasonably warm for the Washington area this first day of February.
This time last week, in Dallas, I was finishing up a talk for the ladies’ Bible study on 1 Samuel 27-31 – four grim chapters – with only one verse that helped: David strengthened himself in the Lord. (1 Samuel 30:6) That preparation was an Ebenezer. Just as the peace and serenity, I am enjoying now is a reminder how far God leads and provides. (1 Samuel 7:12)
Fear for his life almost derailed David in those chapters; fear for all he would lose did drive Saul to insanity and his death. Little did I imagine how studying two kings’ response to fear could have so much personal application so quickly. Fear -- arriving with all kinds baggage – was a relentless intruder.
Our son’s son hit a rough patch coming into this world and has spent several days in NICU. That little guy is quite a fighter – but his mom and dad must cheer him on only from the sidelines – and we, his two sets of grandparents, are even more powerless to help him. Watching all this from the sidelines of this battle highlights nuances of a word I thought I knew – powerless.
Whatever the dictionary definition, powerless does not begin to express the absence of control, strength or usefulness any of us felt when we got the news from his parents. I know that being powerless is more than surrendering my life to a power greater than me. Admitting my powerless means that not only am I unplugged from my silly self – rule but I am willing to stay that way. (Psalm 131) Powerless is not a synonym for passive; to rest in God, is hard work, especially when fear hisses “What if . . .” Or, when she bullies, describing all my weaknesses and failures.
It was hard for David to trust God, after ten years on the run from Saul. And 1 Samuel 27 showed the cost of seeking counsel only from himself. I had a few talks to myself this week. Many ideas have seemed sensible to me these past few days – but none were worth repeating or acting upon. How could I fight this for my son, or his wife? How could I do anything to restore his son to health? But I sure dreamed up a bunch of wild, ridiculous scenarios!
Trusting my life – and all the lives of those I love – over to the care of God as I understand Him restores serenity and protects my sanity. I understand my God to be David’s God – who gave him strength in battles, literal, and personal – and had mercy on his failures. Strengthening myself in God is more a turn of phrase – it is the one choice I can make when nothing I do will change anything.
The last thing I prayed with the ladies on Thursday was that the promises we have in Christ, and the hope of our salvation would be more real to us than any evil we would face after we left Bible study. On Saturday, I learned some applications, and thus far, the Lord has led me. Our son and his wife were facing a terrible ordeal – but God has given them great medical care. He stirred up watchmen who are praying faithfully, and whose love and concern are almost tangible. Day by day, they and we have hope, therefore, that our grandson, their first-born, will be restored. And here is my hymn in this night: If Thou But Suffer God to Guide Thee.