Friday, June 1, 2012

God is our refuge and strength

When I tell Christians I travel to Africa, Nigeria in particular, I am surprised by how often they comment something like, "Isn't it dangerous? You shouldn't go over there." I don't know how to respond to these attitudes that I must be really brave or foolish; I don't think either is a factor in my travel. And if it is, what do you say about the Apostle Paul's decision to go to Jerusalem when God had told him plainly he'd be arrested there? Not to mention all the places he was beaten, stoned, shipwrecked ...

What I do is nothing in comparison. I'm more nervous at airport security than I've ever been in Africa, where people go to great lengths to welcome us. The really brave Christians today are the ones who live in North Korea, Somalia, Iran ... their lives and families are on the line every day for their faith.

Yes, when I go to Africa, there's malaria and waterborne diseases to guard against. Yes, there is violence. It has ethnic, territorial, and religious aspects to it. Expatriates usually aren't involved, but terrorists have bombed a lot of churches there. So I do ask for prayer for the safety of my friends in Nigeria, and for my team when we go out. But I don't see why that should be a reason not to go, if hundreds of thousands of my brothers and sisters can live and worship there.

"I can't believe your parents let you go over there" is another expression I get. But it's my mom who told me that safety anywhere is an illusion. After all, any car ride could be our last. The only security anyone can really have is in the Rock of Ages, in whom there is no such thing as danger.
My soul rests in God alone.
My salvation is from Him.
He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress--
I will never be greatly shaken.
How long will you assault a man,
would all of you throw him down,
like a leaning wall, like a tottering fence?
They fully intend to throw him down from his lofty place.
They delight in lies.
They bless with their mouth,
but they curse inwardly. Selah
My soul, wait in silence for God alone,
for my expectation is from Him.
He alone is my rock, my fortress.
I will not be shaken.
With God is my salvation and my honor.
The rock of my strength, and my refuge, is in God.
Trust in Him at all times, you people.
Pour out your heart before Him.
God is a refuge for us. Selah.
Surely men of low degree are just a breath,
and men of high degree are a lie.
In the balances they will go up.
They are together lighter than a breath.
Don't trust in oppression. Don't become vain in robbery.
If riches increase, don't set your heart on them.
God has spoken once; twice I have heard this,
that power belongs to God.
Also to You, Lord, belongs loving kindness,
for You reward every man according to his work.
--Psalm 62 

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