With 19 days and counting until I set out to run the Pittsburgh Marathon, I consider Boston. I recount the past year. My thoughts turn to Newtown, Aurora, and our very own Western Psychiatric Hospital. I try to console myself thinking, “At least my kids are home schooled.” One less worry, right? But then I remember the warning about the man in the van trying to snatch kids out of their yards in my neighborhood from yesterday. I remember how I felt sitting in the movie theater watching Batman after Aurora. I recall a night I sat with my newborn baby for hours waiting on paperwork in the very space where a shooter opened fire at Western Psych. I realize that all attempts to feel secure are vain. No place is truly safe. I have a choice to make. I can stand around singing, “I Miss Mayberry” and hope we somehow teleport back to a time when it was safe to leave the front door open and let children play outside alone, or, I can sing another song. One that recognizes the world in which we live – complete with bombs, baby-snatchers, and brokenness beyond belief – and I can go in faith knowing that no matter what evil transpires today against me, my family, or those just like me, my God is still in complete control. It goes like this:
A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing
A mighty fortress. A bulwark. Our helper. Mortal ills may prevail, but they are just that – mortal. They will pass. My God is immortal and he will help me in all circumstances.
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
We have but one foe. His name isn’t Kim Jong Un or James Holmes or Kermit Gosnell or Adam Lanza. His name is Satan. He is the one who seeks to kill, steal, and destroy with his great power, craftiness, and influence over those who know not God. He is armed. He may often use a missle, a gun, or a bomb in the hands of a man, but his weapon of choice is always the same – hate. Never take up his weapon.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle.
We are no match for this enemy. We will always lose if left to fight him ourselves. But God choose the right man to help us. He has already won on our behalf and a day of reckoning is coming soon to all of those who fight against his good will. We need not take revenge. Judgement will come.
And though this world, with devils filled, should threaten to undo us,
We will not fear, for God hath willed His truth to triumph through us:
Demons fill our world with threats, creating fear and unrest in us all. But God teaches us to fear nothing but he alone. His truth will be seen in us in the midst of tragedy, chaos, and tears. Spreading his truth matters infinitely more than my living in comfortable circumstances.
The Prince of Darkness grim, we tremble not for him;
His rage we can endure, for lo, his doom is sure,
One little word shall fell him.
Though Satan rules this earth as prince, Christ rules the entire universe as King. Do not be afraid of devils. God is greater. Call on Him for salvation.
That word above all earthly powers, no thanks to them, abideth;
The Spirit and the gifts are ours through Him Who with us sideth:
Let goods and kindred go, this mortal life also;
The body they may kill: God’s truth abideth still,
His kingdom is forever.
His name is above all names. The devils may take our material things, our families, and even our own lives, but God’s truth remains forever. Believe it. Cling to it. Live in it.
I don’t need a bunker or a fort. I won’t avoid a marathon, an airplane, or a movie theater. My Fortress stands in front of me wherever I am. If I live, I live in Him. If I die, I die in Him. Thank you for reminding me, Mr. Luther. A Mighty Fortress is Our God.