I often slept through wasn’t a fan of my history classes. In general, it is safe to say that I spent as little time as possible, during my schooling years, studying for history. English, I liked, mainly because I loved my teacher I had junior and senior year. (Mrs. Driver (“Aunt Liz”) if you’re reading this, I won’t use the word wonderful once, ok?) Math, I liked more. I was pretty good at it, and I generally had friends in those classes. Bonus. But, there was something about history that was always so boring to me.
Now, as a somewhat more mature adult, I have grown to respect history and have found myself enjoying learning about what happened in the past, sort of.
For instance, did you know that our national anthem was actually written as a poem? Frances Scott Key was just a lawyer and amateur poet. Basically, the Caroline version, is that he was sent on a mission to help round up some guys who were prisoners of the British army. He was sent to exchange our prisoners for theirs. He and another guy were held captive for a while, by the British officers, until the battle was over. During this battle, Key witnessed the “bombs bursting in air” and “rockets red glare”, but he wasn’t sure of who won the battle. That is, until dawn, when he saw the American flag flying triumphantly.
Now, almost two-hundred years later, we sing those same words in celebration. We honor the battles that were fought to secure our freedom. We pause and reflect on that freedom we so readily take advantage of. We are energized by the triumphant boldness of our confidence in our nation. We sing proudly, united by one heart-felt feeling; we are free.
I have my own anthem, of sorts. This song is the one I go to in times of joy, fear, anticipation, and praise. I stop and reflect on all God has done. I pause, and thank Him for the freedom from sin I so often forget about. I celebrate the battles that God has won over my enemy. I am energized by the triumph I know I have over the bondage of sin. I sing proudly, knowing for sure, friend, that I am free.
The words to this particular song are so powerful to me. I think the reason for that is that they place all confidence in Him. Get this,
I AM NOT IN CONTROL!
This is something I have fought, and still fight sometimes. I want to be in control. I want things to go my way. But, it truly does come down to this simple truth: You either trust God, or you don’t. Period.
These lyrics remind me of a defining moment in the Bible.
The book of Acts is all about spreading the Word of God. Jesus had died. Jesus had risen. And, now He had gone back to sit at the right hand of the Father. (Acts 5:31)
So, now the apostles are getting out there and takin’ care of business. The book of Acts is written all about what they do for Christ after His death. There are stories of Peter and Paul and others getting out there and sharing the Truth of Jesus. The particular part of Acts that I think of during my anthem is in Acts 5.
Word was spreading like wildfire. Peter and the apostles were healing people, and doing all types of miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. They were boldly speaking of the Truth that Jesus taught and the lies that the Pharisees held on to.
At the beginning of Acts 5, Peter had just called a man named Ananias out on the table. He was lying and keeping money for himself. He wasn’t fooling Peter and he wasn’t fooling God.
Ananias and his wife both dropped dead.
This was serious stuff.
So, after so much good had been done in Jesus’ Name, people were doing all they could to be a part of this revolution.
Acts 5:15 “As a result, people brought the sick into the streets and laid them on beds and mats so that at least Peter’s shadow might fall on some of them as he passed by.”
Wow. Talk about some faith! They were just hoping that his shadow touched them! But, now the Pharisees had had enough. They were jealous of all the attention these apostles were getting, so they locked them up. That’s right, into jail they went!
As if a jail could keep God out. That’s almost funny.
Acts 5:19 “But during the night an angel of the Lord opened the doors of the jail and brought them out.”
The angel told them to go to the temple courts and “tell the people the full message of this new life.”
Not, the next town. Not an underground church surrounded by believers. Nope. They were told to go right back in the face of those who had thrown them in jail. Right into the temple courts and begin again.
At daybreak, that is what they did.
So, here are these Pharisees and other religious leaders just hanging out, walking to “work” that day, and when they got there, who did they see!? Yep, the apostles they had jailed were at it again! Shocked, they even sent a guy to check the jail out. Sure enough, it was still all locked up, but empty. I kinda wonder if they were having some déjà vu of Jesus’ tomb.
So, now they’re really ticked off! They just want to kill the apostles and get this over with!
But, then it happens. The moment of the story that makes me think of my awesome anthem.
This guy, a Pharisee named Gamaliel, who is not on their side at all, stood up and made an announcement.
He reminded the leaders of two men who had come before trying to spread some kind of false teaching. Each of these men gathered hundreds of followers, but then they were killed, and their followers scattered. Nothing ever happened with those guys, so why should these be any different?
Then, he said something so true, so profound, and so quick to hit at the heart of who I am.
Acts 5:38-39 “Leave these men alone! Let them go! For if their purpose or activity is of human origin, it will fail. But if it is from God, you will not be able to stop these men; you will only find yourselves fighting against God.”
I needed this reminder tonight.
As I face yet having another blood patch tomorrow morning, my eleventh in the last four years, I can’t help but get a little nervous. You can be assured the enemy has thrown some serious attacks my way today. I know I am at war. I have had brief moments of weakness and fear. But, hear me friend, GOD IS GOOD ALL THE TIME, AND ALL THE TIME, HE IS GOOD!
He has not let me waiver. He has continually strengthened me. He has given me ounce after ounce after ounce of strength that I need. His strength, too, by the way. Mine would have run out by 10am.
This incredible song reminds me of Romans 8:31 “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
So true, so true.
I don’t know what you are facing, friend.
Maybe the threat of a lay off.
Maybe the decision to accept a job.
Maybe debt, or illness, or the weight of depression.
I don’t know.
But, God does.
And, listen to me, He is for you.
Commit your way to Him. Read His Word. Be humble. Seek wise council with trusted friends who are listening to God, too. Trust Him with every area of your life.
Do this; and nothing will get in your way. Correction: nothing will get in His way.
Now, it is time to sing my anthem. It can be your anthem, too, friend.
My God is your God.
Just like the title of my anthem, by Chris Tomlin, says: He is Our God.
And, He loves us both.
Proverbs 16:3 “Commit to the LORD whatever you do, and your plans will succeed.”
PS. If you don’t want to be done praisin’, feel free to keep it up with PAW Time and 99 Bottles of Beer in the Wall