That Final Trust

Reading: Psalm 146
Back in the 1920s the House of Commons was debating proposed changes to the Anglican Book of Common Prayer. In one of the breaks one member of Parliament was overheard saying to another, "I donít know what all the fuss is about. Surely all of us believe in some sort of something!"

That is a very true, but not very insightful, comment. I am reminded of a cartoon in Paul E Littleís book, How to Give Away Your Faith (Intervarsity, 1966). A man has been climbing a step ladder, but it has given way. The cartoonist has captured him on the way down. The caption - "It does matter what you believe as long as you believe it."

The events of 11 September 2001 have raised, not just the issue of religious tolerance, but the question of truth itself. Yes, we do need to be friendly towards those of different beliefs, but - make no mistake - it does matter what we believe. And - on the other side - we do have to believe it - to depend on it, to live it out in practice.

We have faced a two-fold problem in our world - people fanatical about false causes, and people who accept the truth but fail to live by it.

The Psalmist states clearly, "Do not put your trust in princes, in mortal men, who cannot save" (Ps. 146.3).

While Australia has a constitutional monarchy, we arenít governed by royalty. And those who favour a republic arenít suggesting we be governed by a president, either. We elect our governments and, I trust, make every effort to choose wisely who will receive our vote.

Yet our ultimate trust should never be in a particular representative or political party. We should pray that our political leaders will have humility and wisdom - that they will seek a wisdom that comes from God alone.

We rightly depend on many people in the course of our lives. To fail to do so would put us in need of psychiatric counselling! But to invest anyone else with absolute trust is to be let down sooner or later.

"Blessed is he whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of heaven and earth, the sea, and everything in them - the Lord, who remains faithful forever" (vv. 5-6).

In that final and absolute sense, our trust is to be in the Lord - our "help" and our "hope".

Because the Psalmist acknowledges the Lord as "the Maker of heaven and earth...", he perceives the Lordís provision in many practical ways - upholding the cause of the oppressed, giving food to the hungry, setting prisoners free, giving sight to the blind, lifting up those who are bowed down, watching over the alien, sustaining the fatherless and the widow... (vv. 7-9).

We are inclined to think of all these things as the practical responsibilities of ordinary human beings - some of them as the caring ministrations to which we commit ourselves. But we can only give what is given. We can only do what the Lord our Maker has made possible. We are in fact responsible to share his gracious gifts. It is said that there is ample food for all the worldís people - human greed has trouble distributing it.

We need to move beyond trusting humanity - and living on our self-centred rights and achievements. Jesus taught us to pray to "our Father." That involves us in reaching up - in trust - and reaching out - in loving care.

Prayer: Loving Father, this is your world. You provide so bountifully for human need. It is also our world - and we have so much trouble sharing the resources you have given. Help us to trust you, and to reach out to others with loving care. As we call you "our Father", help us to recognise one another as members of your family. Help our elected leaders - together with our whole community - to live with true humility, trust and compassion. In Jesusí name, Amen.

Reaching up and out

The hermit crab
in the solitude
of a borrowed shell,
tentative sorties
for food,
to retreat
at the slightest

by others
or by circumstance,
we hide away
in our private shell.

Yet the Lord
is ever faithful,
our help and hope.
With confidence
reach up -
in his love and grace.
It is his world -
reach out
with love and grace
to all around.

© Peter J. Blackburn, Burdekin BlueCare Devotions, 27 August 2002.
Except where otherwise noted, Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, © International Bible Society, 1984.

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