Monday, April 22, 2013
There's a verse in the Bible that I don't believe.
For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you; plans to give you hope and a future.
Okay, so I realize I am stepping on some people's sacred ground here. And if not your sacred ground, then at least the Christian greeting card company's.
But I don't believe that verse.
Before you start throwing tomatoes at me, let me explain.
I don't believe this verse in the interpretation that most Americans give it. I don't believe that God has granted that promise to individual Christians for every age in history.
I do believe that it was a promise made to a group of people who were exiled from their country at a specific time in history.
I'm going to be frank.
God has not promised us prosperity. Sometimes God's will is that we don't prosper.
God has not promised us safety. Sometimes God allows us to be harmed.
A month ago, a gang of thieves armed with machetes broke into the home of good friends of ours in the middle of the night. They wounded the father and stole everything they could carry.
Last night, it happened to another family who is dear to us. Except that this time, the thieves had guns. They shot at the father and missed. They stole what they could carry. They even tried to get the wedding ring off of the mom's finger. Thankfully, it wouldn't come off.
Both families live just a couple of miles away from us.
Shivers of terror have gone through our community. But for those of us who have lived here a long time, this is nothing new. I could probably list about 20 families over the years who I know personally and who have experienced the same thing.
It has not happened to us. Yet. I have no assurance that it won't.
Of course, we are very careful. I think I mentioned before that my husband has the mind of a criminal. So he has good plans in place to keep the bad guys out. We talk about our plan. We review our plan. Tonight at dinner, he was re-reading the manual of our alarm system.
We have not left Tanzania. God has called us here. We have no intention of throwing in the towel. Neither have our friends who have experienced this trauma.
But God does not promise our safety. He does not promise that no harm will come our way, even when we are obeying Him.
I'm sure people thought that Columbine, and Newtown, and the Twin Towers were safe places. But the truth is, there are no safe places. No matter how much insurance we have, no matter how much we fire-proof our homes, no matter if we carry a gun or how many air bags we have in our cars, there are no safe places. Our world is broken, and the American Dream is never going to fix it.
So instead of Jeremiah 29:11, I look to other promises. Promises that I know apply to me, today.
I will never leave you nor forsake you.
The Lord is with me, I will not be afraid. What can man do to me?
In all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose.
You will keep in perfect peace him whose mind is steadfast, because he trusts in You.
I am convinced that neither death nor life, nor angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future...nor any powers, will be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.