Psalm 91 has always been a favorite plea for those facing battle against impossible odds.
I present it here, using the ACV by Dr. Walter L. Porter, knowing the impossible odds we now face in this ministry.
1He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. 2I will say of Jehovah, He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust. 3For he will deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the deadly pestilence. 4He will cover thee with his pinions, and under his wings shall thou take refuge. His truth is a shield and a buckler.
5Thou shall not be afraid for the terror by night, nor for the arrow that flies by day, 6for the pestilence that walks in darkness, nor for the destruction that wastes at noonday. 7A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand, but it shall not come near thee. 8Thou shall only behold with thine eyes, and see the reward of the wicked. 9For thou, O Jehovah, are my refuge! Thou have made the Most High thy habitation. 10There shall no evil befall thee, nor shall any plague come near thy tent,
11for he will give his agents charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. 12They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone. 13Thou shall tread upon the lion and adder. The young lion and the serpent thou shall trample under foot.
14“Because he has set his love upon me, therefore I will deliver him. I will set him on high because he has known my name. 15He shall call upon me, and I will answer him. I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him, and honor him. 16I will satisfy him with long life, and show him my salvation.”
Do you remember Gideon’s story from the Book of Judges? I recently got a reminder of it as I was in prayer seeking clarity on why our favored strategy for certain aspects of the ministry was no longer working. It had indeed gone through a drastic decline several months before. I was asking God why nothing seemed to be working, valiantly trying to avoid the tired old canard, “Why me?” as I was asking, and before I could even feel successful formulating what my heart was crying out over, into my spirit came, “Because this has to come from Me.”
I sat there, admittedly a little stunned. I had been crying out, maybe even weeping, certainly in fear over the consequences of failure in the eyes of my leader, great and good man though he is, rather than contemplating the awesomeness of God Almighty, from Whom the admonishment came, “Because this has to come from Me”.
God was intervening directly in my life, but instead of seeing it as a time of celebration I was seeing it as a time of fear, and dread, and terror. I was trusting false evidence appearing real and forgetting to trust in my God.
On the night between Thursday, February 19, 2015 and Friday, February 20, 2015 I got no significant sleep at all, and what little I did manage was filled to overflowing with lurid, nightmarish images of people speaking in a language that I did not understand, words flowing across the screen of my mind and morphing back and forth between the Hebrew and English alphabets as they did so, and it was all insistently interspersed by words that would not allow themselves to be unheeded throughout that long night, “Should I not bleed as He has bled for me upon the tree? Should I not scream as He did scream for me in agony?” That couplet harassed me insistently and would not leave me in peace to sleep. At one point, about 1 or 2 in the morning, in spite of knowing that a good man lay trying to sleep in the room that shares a wall with mine, I was crying and audibly weeping, choking out a modern hymn and praise song to God in spite of the absolute terror in which I found myself. It was just before 6 in the morning when I finally gave in and began to compose the music and write the words for what would be my 1,000th hymn, which you see here.
On the morning after the major, pitched battle to receive and write this hymn, well, I guess some might say that I was still feeling the effects of it when, no matter how hard I tried, I could not share it without tears. Indeed, it was the counselor whom I sought to share it with who reacted by telling me that I had wrestled all night with God, just as had Jacob on the trail to his brother’s lands.
My name, by the way, I have not forgotten. Well do I remember it and, more importantly, that other name by which my Lord has been known to call me. It is the name of a Patriarch well versed in the interpretation of dreams, one whom his own family sold into slavery, exiling him from themselves, by their own evil, in a foreign land, there falsely accused by a frustrated, wayward wife who sought physical gratification outside the marriage bed, only to be spurned by a righteous man, who then, by the gift given him by God, saved the land from death.
The night before I began writing this article, I was talking to some of those whom this ministry stands and fights for, when it was revealed to me why our usual strategy has not been working. It was a man here for a mere four days who was revealing to me what those who have known me for some time could easily have shared, but did not. Though I am dismayed by it, I do understand.
I understand that this city, whose government has made itself our enemy has been using our own media outlet as a weapon of warfare against us, one by one picking off those whom God has placed under our charge. Of those who are our overnight guests, any who go on camera for us wind up getting targeted by the city, and soon are not seen again inside our doors. Those who still come are frightened and, because of that fear, will not come on camera for us.
These guests are people, and, in the eyes of society and the laws of this land, people have rights. They have rights that they should be free from harassment at the hands of the government, that if the government has no legal and proper warrant against them, that government should be leaving them alone, not assaulting them by beating them about the feet and commanding them to wake up and move along. This is sleep deprivation, which the world sees as torture, which international law sees as a crime against humanity, but which, so far with impunity, this city uses against its own people, meaning that it is therefore violating its own nation’s Declaration of Independence.
There is an old adage, “You can’t fight City Hall.” Well, there is an even older adage, “You can’t fight God.”
God is the warrior who never shall fall,
once having defeated death.
He is the ally who reverses all,
leaving all His children blessed.
Never forget, in the battle you face,
there is none greater than Christ,
and if you trust in Him, whatever lot,
then you shall shine in the Light.
There is a tendency, even among God’s faithful, to seek to avoid battles. It is far easier to co-exist than it is to stand up for righteousness. I’m sure that we’ve all seen those bumper stickers that use the images of various belief systems all formed into letter-like forms to spell out the message that it is better to co-exist than to be insistent for the righteousness of God. These, of course, are only ever sported by those who are not genuinely committed to a relationship, built upon Love and self-sacrifice, with the Living God, who is the Maker, Keeper, Designer, and Maintainer of all things. This is because they are a tool of the enemy of God used with the goal that God not ever be taken seriously.
It is a serious matter to hold oneself up as wiser or more just than even God. It is a serious matter of hubris gone to seed. It is people such as this who do battle against the Living God, who see it as no difficult thing. To laugh in the face of your Maker is to laugh in the face of life—and death.
To look upon Creation and see nothing but randomness upon randomness piled upon chaos is to do battle against the wisdom of God having at your side only insanity as a weapon of warfare.
Those who accuse people of faith of clinging to a “God of the Gaps” are themselves relying upon a randomness of the gaps, and seeing it erode day by day as ever more function and design is clearly and undeniably discerned from the efforts of genuine scientists doing genuine science in battle against the ignorance of the darkness that can never overcome the Light. It is in people such as this that hubristic ignorance takes its deepest root, and, seeing the way in which the realities of life toy with their utter futility, it is with confidence and joy that I, then, hand myself over to God for battle.
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