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Here’s a Thought for April 24

Living Word Lutheran Church

Have no fear… and run to the bunker!

More than a decade ago I lived in a place where there was little variation in the weather (it was hot all the time — with no clouds) and everyone wore the exact same outfit every day and ate at the same cafeteria. It wasn’t a school or a penitentiary. It was a deployment to the Middle East. Life seemed to crawl at the speed of a pair of horses pulling a wagon uphill, which is about 4 mph. The simplicity (and speed) of life during a deployment is often complicated by the level of danger multiplied by human and other factors that can make the easiest tasks seem difficult. The sense that every day was “Groundhog Day” was a fitting description of how we experienced our communal life. We ran our “tractors” in field gear except when brief flashes of excitement burst onto the scene as the sirens sounded; then we ran to the bunkers.

One of the Psalms I have shared with many people facing a myriad of challenges in many settings is Psalm 27. It “covers the waterfront” in terms of the height and depth of the things people face from time to time. Those who pray this Psalm recognize the fear-driven anger that can come when we think the LORD is hiding his face from us (vs. 9). If you read over these words a few times you can’t miss the fact that the LORD is doing most of the work — hiding us in his tent, lifting us up, taking us in!

“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? 2When evildoers assail me to eat up my flesh, my adversaries and foes, it is they who stumble and fall. 3Though an army encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war arise against me, yet I will be confident.

4One thing have I asked of the LORD, that will I seek after: that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to gaze upon the beauty of the LORD and to inquire in his temple. 5For he will hide me in his shelter in the day of trouble; he will conceal me under the cover of his tent; he will lift me high upon a rock.

6And now my head shall be lifted up above my enemies all around me, and I will offer in his tent sacrifices with shouts of joy; I will sing and make melody to the LORD. 7Hear, O LORD, when I cry aloud; be gracious to me and answer me! 8You have said, “Seek my face.” My heart says to you, “Your face, LORD, do I seek. 9Hide not your face from me. Turn not your servant away in anger, O you who have been my help. Cast me not off; forsake me not, O God of my salvation! 10For my father and my mother have forsaken me, but the LORD will take me in.

11Teach me your way, O LORD, and lead me on a level path because of my enemies. 12Give me not up to the will of my adversaries; for false witnesses have risen against me, and they breathe out violence. 13I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living! 14Wait for the LORD; be strong, and let your heart take courage; wait for the LORD!” ESV

As much of the world is still cloistered with a murky view of what comes next, the LORD is not startled, surprised or afraid. He waits with us as we wait. He is the source of the goodness and courage we need in every circumstance whether we’re cruising along at 70 or plodding forward with a loaded wagon at less than 5 miles an hour.

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