Posts Tagged ‘rescue’

Psalm 143 is filled with urgency and no less in these two verses:

hidingplaceLet the morning bring me word of your unfailing love,
    for I have put my trust in you.
Show me the way I should go,
    for to you I entrust my life.
Rescue me from my enemies, Lord,

    for I hide myself in you. [Psalm 143:8-9 NIV 2011]

I don’t know this kind of urgency very often. From day to day, I live a life of relative ease. There might be emotional upheavals and drama (after all, I have two young adults still living at home with us), but none of these cause me to burrow into the hiding place of God. I do not live in a foxhole as many people do throughout the world today. Instead, for all I know, I may be luxuriating in pot of water on the stove, getting warmer and warmer, but not realizing I am actually dying.

Well, we all are. From day to day, closer each day to some inevitable transformative moment that will take us out of our bodies in an instant or on a journey of pain and disease, a slower but nonetheless equally lethal end. This is part of living, the dying.

There have been several deaths around me of late: husbands of friends, old friends, passing acquaintances, relatives of colleagues, and on and on the list seems to get longer each year. We have a patron who comes into the library every week to look at the local newspaper for one thing only, to check the obituaries. There is always someone she knows, she has lived in this same community all of her life.

Is the shadow of death the only real urgency in a life? Or, is that merely self-serving to the end?

Or, are we to live with empathy for others in their crisis?

No one can sustain the stress of true crisis for an extended time. The body cannot generate enough adrenalin. I could help by if I knew how to envelop this person in need with the love of God, with the touch of authentic human, with the promise of rest. But then, I must really know what it means to shelter in God before I can bring someone else into the hiding place.

Back in my childhood, I was never very good at playing hide and seek. Either my hiding place was too good (and no one could find me so I would come out – who wants to be alone in a hiding place?) or the spot was too easy and I was found right away. Often, I would keep peeking out just to see what was going on around me. Just in case. And of course, this would be another way I would be pulled free from safety.

And there’s the problem, the human tendency to peek. To hide in God works better as a permanent solution, not just in a state of emergency. If I could stay in the hiding place of God, within the Spirit of Christ, my view of the world would be through a completely different lens. I would see more clearly; I would recognize needs in others; I could envelope and invite them in, for the place is large and plentiful. The hiding place of God knows no limits, nor does it include chains. It’s a choice to remain, just as it is a choice to enter.

So, does the hiding place mean I won’t experience urgency and fear and pain? On the contrary, those moments will still happen, I’m sure of it. The difference is in walking out trauma with an ongoing confidence in the Presence: “We are confident that God is able to orchestrate everything to work toward something good and beautiful when we love Him and accept His invitation to live according to His plan” [Romans 8:38, The Voice].

And remaining “in” God. No peeking.

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Rescue implies that a person is in a dangerous situation. At the point of discovery, there are no accusations or recriminations against the person in need. We don’t scream down the mind shaft, “what were you thinking?” … or at least, we shouldn’t.

Acts 26:17
“…I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles. I am sending you to them. …”
[Paul retelling what he heard Jesus say to him on the road to Damascus.]

Our family is in the process of looking for a new dog. Historically, we have always waited for a dog to drop into our lives or we search out a “rescue.” These are the animals who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected. They are in need of love and a family. They need encouragement and protection. They need a place of safety. Sometimes, it takes a lot of time and patience to incorporate a rescued pet into a family.

Human beings are even more complicated to rescue. The people who end up in bad circumstances because of their own choices may be a little easier (if they can admit to the part they played in getting there). But, many are in denial. In either case, these people still need to be rescued “out” of theirs situations before anything else can happen. Again, using the mind shaft image, it’s not worth explaining or lecturing to the person at the bottom about playing too close to the edge.

Sometimes, I think we try “rescue” tactics with people who don’t believe they are in trouble. This does not work. You cannot dangle rescue paraphernalia in front of folks who don’t feel like they are in danger. That would be like handing someone a life preserver in the desert. It doesn’t make sense.

If we are in the rescue business, then we need to understand that particular person’s mind shaft, desert, or ocean experience. And if we aren’t equipped to do that, then we need to find someone who can.

There are things, however, that can be given to anyone in any situation. They are grace gifts: love, kindness, mercy, forgiveness, and acceptance. These have little cost. Giving them is a choice.

But rescue is action. Rescue takes extra energy. Rescue takes lots of time. Rescue may require more than one worker. Rescue can be difficult. Rescue may not be convenient for the rescuer(s).

Jesus told Paul that he would rescue him from difficult circumstances … but Jesus also said he would place Paul among the very people that would drag him into more difficult circumstances.

Once rescued, it’s important to rescue others. But, we must be wise and tolerant and loving along the way. We must be ready to answer the call of “help.” Before then… we just keep giving the grace gifts.

Give me courage to ask for rescue when I need it. Give me courage to respond to the call for rescue from others.

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