“Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice! Let your gentleness be evident to all. The Lord is near. Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
It was when you brought me into this mall, and into your home, that I felt our worlds collided…
Our feet touched your ground, our hands felt your walls, our bodies filled your rooms…and our chatter…they filled this space of us being apart for ten full months, walking our own different paths, living our own different lives.
Weren’t these the places you talked about? Dreamt of taking us to? And hoped of spending some cherished moments together?
We sat and talked insurance, work-family-life challenges and what a hard slog it had been these past few months. I nodded, trying to offer my empathy, sketching for a word of encouragement, knowing that God is working, even behind the midst of all these dramas.
We spent a good portion of that Friday in your home, kids playing happily…and you, pulling a scrambled mind together after a long week of work.
Then the messages came, and you scratched your head hard, and you braced yourself strong, the torrents of work barraging your day somewhat unexpected.
We changed our day’s plans, made sure you could pick up those calls, made sure you were available, made sure you were there for the business, simply because, we couldn’t risk losing it when it comes to business, just like we wouldn’t risk it with life and eternity and all-these-who-knows religious things.
The children were somewhat disappointed with the change of plans, and I remember placing your daughter on my lap, we memorised Philippians 4:6 together – this call to rejoice.
“What does rejoicing mean?”, she asked softly.
“To be happy, joyful, from the heart”, my daughter replied.
She went back to her company of play – our kids mining crystals together. They said they were excavating natural rocks out of plaster block, and they were, oh, so lost in this work of chiselling what looks to me, like a hardened block of stone.
And I heard His whisper – “Since when did the stones keep you from singing? Since when did problems keep you from rejoicing?”
I remember now – we were both teens when we fell in love with Him – you took me to church and my heart was taut. And you? You felt called to sing…You were a worshipper, always, with or without a guitar, with or without a stage. Songs were your sacred pathways to God, holy tunes reverberating in your heart.
And this song – wasn’t it our favourite? …Yours? You told me that you felt most alive when you sing, most encouraged when you close your eyes, most closest to God when you lift your hands up high. What stones have since kept us both from singing lustfully like we did before?
“Did you hear those mountains tremble”…Could duty, debt, drama, deadlines, deaths, disappointments or disillusionments really keep us back from chipping away our own rock, lifting up our own song, rejoicing in the God that we said we trust, today?
I remember reading this famous quote from the movie “The War of the Worlds” by H. G. Wells – and how the narrator, in his attempt to reunite with his lost wife in the midst of an utterly destroyed and broken city, was joined by a clergyman who instead of being a solution to the doom, became a hindrance and a harbinger to their end of the world. And his famous saying to him was: “Be a man! You are scared out of your wits! What good is religion if it collapses under calamity? Think of what earthquakes and floods, wars and volcanoes, have done before to men! Did you think God had exempted Weybridge? He is not an insurance agent.”
God, being our insurance agent?
The kids tapped away their brick-like sandstone…chipping what seemed like an impossible mountain, heads together, bodies towering over, hands getting messy in sediments, eyes glued to their project. They wasted no time talking, they were working hard…teaming up together to dig and discover precious rocks buried inside.
Can God and His life changing truth be discovered if we were to tap away our mountains of religiosity and formality, thinking of God as a mere philosophy or a way of life, rather than coming to Him for who He really is, the Great Consuming Fire, the Giver of Life and Death, the Saviour of all mankind?
I saw radiance spilling out, joy exuding, time thickening this bond of love as minds and hearts unite…
They continued chiselling…and this song kept coming to me. The song you used to sing. And I swallowed hard. Can our God be trusted when time’s hard and the world’s dark and the market implodes and the Church dulls? Can we chip away our mountains like our kids chipped away their hardened block, us teaming up with God, heart and head given to Him even in the midst of daily dramas? And us doing the impossible with God? – Like how these kids excavated their rocks in an hour what was supposed to be a few days’ worth of work, when done alone?
So these kids they squealed with delight, their hands touched their discovery, like how we are meant to see God with our eyes, listen to His voice with our ears and touch Him with our hands . “Hit it hard”, “Brush it soft”, “Tap away the dirt”, they said. They blew the dust away, wash their precious rocks in water, my own soul awashed from the fear of life replete with danger…we can all find refuge in the One who calls Himself the Rock of Ages.
And I understood. God is not our insurance agent. And life is not meant to be lived protected. We are not meant to approach God in the hope of preserving our own life. We are not to say we trust in Him in exchange for a life of ease and comfort here on earth. We are not to approach God like how we would pay our insurance to pool our risks.
Danger, sickness, death, accidents, violence and catastrophes… aren’t life filled with all these risks – not all preventable, not all avoidable, and oft times unforeseeable, how do we insure life against all of these?
AW Tozer said it best, “God is a person….in making Himself known to us, He communicates with us…and this continuous and unembarrassed interchange of love and thought between God and the soul of the redeemed man is the throbbing heart of New Testament religion. ”
Throbbing…like lovers find their hearts pulsing in the arms of each other…like our kids squealing with delight with the discovery they made…like worshippers singing passionately to the Person God – like like the way we first sang lustily of seeing God moving, like how we trusted He is the mighty river moving through the nations, like how we would fling wide our gates, believing in the God of impossibilities, and not allowing fear to come in…
Maybe the best way to insure our life forward is to have His song in our mouth, this guitar in our hand? Stir ourselves awake and feel the heat of His love for us? Mine His precious jewels and feel His hunger in our bones? Let His heart throbs in ours and know, yes know that we can rejoice because He truly is near, and most alive, this Rock of ages whom we trust.