Rain is falling and the lightning flashes periodically. Rumbles of thunder resound, sending the family dog under the storage shed seeking a hiding place. I know that he has a good strong house, but for some reason, he isn’t reassured by the plastic structure with only two plastic flaps between him and the turmoil from the skies. So, he cowers in the dirt under the shed. Maybe he’s the smart one.
Like many of you, I’ve watched the video footage of the horrific earthquake in Japan over the last few days. The one thought that I can’t shake is how exposed we are, in spite of our illusion of protection. In the earthquake, strong buildings, the very places you would think you should run into when in danger, become death traps, with objects falling from shelves, pieces of the ceiling crashing down, even whole buildings collapsing on themselves. Outside isn’t much better. The resulting tsunami, huge waves caused by the earth’s movement, tosses cars around like toys, crushing buildings, battering bridges and skyscrapers alike, leaving in it’s path nothing but destruction and death.
A false sense of security. How many times have we seen confidence shattered as the unsinkable, unbeatable, and invincible are swept away by circumstances and powers beyond our control? Billions of dollars are lost as stock markets fall and money invested in “can’t miss” acquisitions turns out to be nothing more than speculation and fool’s gold. A ship that can’t be sunk goes down on its maiden voyage, sunk by something that was unseen until moments before the impact. The greatest military might in the world is defeated by an upstart country of 13 small colonies and virtually no trained military men.
We even put our trust in men and women who turn out to be frauds. More than that, those who have proven to be trustworthy for years and years stumble and founder. Marriages fail after twenty, thirty, even forty years, destroyed by unfaithfulness. People we respect lose their moral compasses, pursuing paths completely inconsistent with their past and their verbal affirmations. Our faith in humans is shaken again and again.
Am I preaching? It would appear so, since the tenor of this post seems to be pointing out our misplaced trust in all the wrong things. Man-made things, whether they be structures or temperaments, buildings or character traits, are all flawed in their framework. The idea that a thing conceived and made by a broken creature can endure in the face of the power and testing of the Creator is ridiculous in its foundational principle. As the power of the forces pitted against it are unleashed, the cracks and flaws in the design and construction will always be brought to light.
When we trust in the might of men, we trust in a shadow, a puff of smoke. It is here today, gone into the ether tomorrow. My mind can’t help but be directed to our national motto, printed on our coins since the middle of the nineteenth century. Much maligned in recent years; possibly on the brink of extinction in our current course, it is, nonetheless, still the only sane course for fallen man. “In God We Trust.”
Francis Scott Key penned the words in 1814, and we know them today as our National Anthem. The words which inspired our national motto read:
“And this be our motto: ‘In God is our trust.’
And the Star Spangled Banner in triumph shall wave
O’er the land of the free and the home of the brave.”
Congress, in 1864, in the midst of the Civil War, a terrifying period in our history, with more than ample cause to acknowledge the erroneousness of trust in man’s institutions, shortened the phrase from that powerful verse and had the words “In God We Trust” stamped on the two-cent coin for the first time in U.S. history. I have the priviledge to possess one of these coins, and it never fails to move me powerfully when I hold it in my hand and think of that horrible time in our nation’s history, but also the simple faith of our leaders in an all powerful God, who values truth and justice above all of our petty desires. The coin is worn and dirty, passed from hand to hand for a century and a half, with almost no monetary value, but the motto is still there, reminding that in spite of our shortcomings, our stupidity, and our arrogance; the wisdom, and strength, and love of our Creator trumps our weakness every time. I don’t think I could part with it for any amount of money.
Had enough of the preaching? Okay, I’m coming down from behind the pulpit in a moment. Just one more reminder: The psalmist knew whereof he spoke when he penned the words in Psalms 20:7. “Some trust in chariots and horses. We trust in the name of the Lord, our God.”
That said, I’m still headed indoors during this storm. I do know enough to come in out of the rain…
“The illusion which exalts us is dearer to us than ten thousand truths.”
(Alexander Pushkin~ Russian Poet~1799-1837)
“But courage, child! We are all between the paws of the true Aslan.”