3.30pm on a Thursday – the door banged like any other day, yet there was a velocity that day, which spelt trouble. As I called "hi, how was your day?" there was silence. Out in the kitchen there was a dejected young man of twelve, who had just about had enough that day. The problem soon emerged: at lunchtime the same day, my son and his friend were hanging out in their customary spot near their classroom, when a few smaller boys arrived en mass, and claimed the territory for themselves. While our young man held his ground initially, his friend disappeared, and consequently against this gang there was no option but to grudgingly yield. The humiliation of having to cave in to first years was a bitter pill to have to swallow and the prospect of this kind of thing recurring in the future seemed only too likely, now that these egotistical juniors had got the taste of victory. I then remembered my son talking about a few boys in the upper school, with whom he had become acquainted. Why not find one of these bigger friends to hang out with next day? The chances of the miniature army being brave enough to take him on seemed unlikely!
How often do we find ourselves in the same spot? We become used to our familiar little comfort zone. Maybe it’s a little rut that suits us just fine: our routines are running like clockwork and there is a nice, safe feeling just knowing that at the same time next week we’ll be doing much the same thing as now. As believers, it’s bizarre that we believe and depend on the never-changing God, yet expect our circumstances to be never-changing too! Just as this boy was resentful when challenged to move on, so we resent whatever seems to be knocking us out of our routine, especially if our customary prop fails us. Malachi 3:6 reassures us that God is unchanging: "For I am the Lord, I change not". However, He is the ONLY absolute. Nothing or no one in this world remains constant. We must accept that nothing stays the same forever, no matter how perfect it seems.
How painful that is to take in, when the Lord intervenes in our lives. Maybe a loved one has passed away and we just want things to be how they were before this grinding ache of loneliness became a 24/7 experience. Perhaps we have been forced to relocate, leaving friends and family behind, and we long for life to go back to ‘normal’. Possibly, an accident or illness has left disability in its wake, and we yearn for the days when there was no activity that we couldn’t attempt. Maybe, it has been a minor problem, which, like a single first-former, would not have been enough to upset and displace us. However, when a number of aggressive juniors appear at the same time, the situation seems to be hopeless. Are we resentful that we must now deal with this cluster of difficulties or our new set of circumstances? Or do we see the Father’s loving hand behind it all, gently leading and guiding? Psalm 46 reminds us that "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore will not we fear, though the earth be removed, and though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea". Even if our world seems to be falling down round our very ears, God is there, unchanging and unmoveable. He may allow difficulties to cross our path, but His lessons are not taught from a great distance. Rather, just like a parent is waiting to catch a toddler as he tentatively negotiates an obstacle in his course, our Heavenly Father holds His hands out ready to catch us.
Do we, like my young son, forget that we have Someone better than a mate in fourth year? We have the ultimate Friend in the Highest place. When life’s changing scenery and ever-emerging difficulties seem to be too much for us to manage on our own, why is it that we forget to run to the One, who by His mere presence can still the storm, and disarm any assailing force? Psalm 91:1 tells us that "He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty". When we are walking in the Lord’s will, He is never too far away to run to and hide. In v4 we read "He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under His wings shalt thou trust" Just as a child, runs to its parent’s side and hides under a coat or sweater, knowing that safety lies there, so we can run to the Lord and ask Him to cover and protect us from the adversaries around us.
There is no need for us to hide in there, terrified and defeated. We can remain under the Father’s protection, but rejoice in His help and care. We may be down but we are certainly not out. Psalm 63:7 tells us, "Because Thou hast been my help, therefore in the shadow of Thy wings will I rejoice". I could just imagine the smile of confidence and supremacy on that wee fellow’s face next day, as he basked in the security of his older and much larger friend! No one dared encroach on his territory as long as the stronger force was there to be reckoned with. "But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ". (1 Cor 15v57). As believers, we have protection when we need it, but best of all we have eternal victory through the death of Jesus Christ on the cross who defeated our spiritual enemy for ever. Do you KNOW that you have a Friend in the Highest place, in Heaven? When life throws its worst at you, do you KNOW that you have the protection and strength of a Heavenly Father behind you? If you don’t I pray that you will come to Him now: the link at the foot of this page will explain how.
The first-formers’ victory was very short-lived. Satan knows that he is on borrowed time too. His success today could be turned to his defeat tomorrow, if we hold on to our "Friend that sticketh closer than a brother" (Prov 18v24), through all life’s transitions and trials.
Through all the changing scenes of life,
In trouble and in joy,
The praises of my God shall still
My heart and tongue employ.
Fear Him, ye saints, and you will then
Have nothing else to fear;
Make you His service your delight,
He’ll make your wants His care.
Are you SURE that you have your place booked in Heaven? Read this if you're not!