What's happening at Maisha Na Maji (Living Water), a United Methodist Mission in Tanzania.
Saturday, December 31, 2016
“There was a very cautious man, Who never laughed or played. He never risked, he never tried, He never sang or prayed. And when one day he passed away, His insurance was denied. For since he never really lived, They claimed he never really died.” ― John C. Maxwell
There’s an old commercial tag line for the Prudential Insurance Company using the rock of Gibraltar as a logo that says, “Own a piece of the rock.” We really all want to do just that. We want to have total security for ourselves and our families. We want security for our homes, our neighborhoods, and our schools. We want the latest in alarm systems. We want insurance to protect us from financial loss. We want insurance to protect us from the high cost of health care. But, sadly insurance companies go bankrupt, and the annuities we were counting on for retirement can just disappear. Insurance companies work very hard not to have to pay claims. We can have diseases that our insurance doesn’t cover. Yet we believe we really can own a piece of the rock, meaning that we can be totally safe, secure, and protected.
But folks, this just ain’t so. When we lived in Boston while I attended seminary, we left our house unlocked when we weren’t there and locked when we were there. Friends warned us that there had been break-ins in the neighborhood—but think about that. If the houses were broken into, they had to have been locked – and it didn’t stop the thieves. Professional thieves can break into anything if they think it is worth the risk. My theory was that if a thief encountered an unlocked door, he would assume that people were at home and go elsewhere. Other homes in our neighborhood had break-ins, but we never did. I’m not advocating this for everyone everywhere, but the point I want to make is that there is no home that is an impregnable fortress. If you don’t believe me, watch any James Bond film—he could get in anywhere. There is no seat belt/air bag combination that will always save your life. You can minimize risk. You can even have total replacement cost on your valuables, but the real valuables in your life are irreplaceable. No amount of money can replace the family pictures, the plate your daughter made in third grade, or the quilt handed down from your great-grandmother. No financial payment can replace the life of a child. We simply cannot be reimbursed for the things in life that have true value.
We are foolish to try so hard to be protected from all ills when cancer can find its way into the youngest, healthiest of bodies. We simply cannot protect ourselves from drunken drivers, mass shootings, terrorist attacks, or even from the kids in our own neighborhood. It’s true that you should lock your doors, walk or drive your children to school, use your seat belts, eat healthy, exercise, and drive safely. God certainly wants you to do all you can to stay in service to others. Think for a minute about taxi or Uber drivers in big cities. They cruise around picking up fares they don’t know and run the risk of being robbed or attacked every time. Yet most people are thankful when the cab stops to pick them up. I’ve tried to get cabs late at night in Boston and New York City, and it sure feels good when you see one coming by with its in-service light on. (For those of you unfamiliar with cabs, they have a light on the roof that tells you whether they are available.)
We are truly a foolish people if we think we can own a piece of the rock and thus not worry. We need to trust God, but mostly, we don’t. The problem comes when we trust ourselves and not God. If we trust God, we should be looking for ways to be in service to God and for God. When my life on this world runs out, I hope people can say that the last time they saw me – whatever I was doing – my “in-service” light was on. Real security only comes from God. It is not anything that we can do that will protect us, but if we have given our hearts to God, nothing can separate us from His love. Jesus reminded us that the two greatest commandments were to love God and to love our neighbors. There are no commandments about financial security or home security. In fact, we are told in no uncertain terms not to pile up treasures on earth but to pile up treasure in heaven, for where our treasure is, there our heart is also. Nothing could have protected me from the four potentially fatal medical emergencies in 2016, but faith in God and Christian friends pulled me through—counts as treasure in heaven.
Don’t cling to an insurance policy or an alarm system or security cameras. They cannot protect you from the troubles of this world. Cling to Christ instead. There are rocks to which we can cling, like the Rock of Ages, and the rock upon which Christ told us to build our house. There is no guarantee that bad things won’t happen, but with Christ in your heart and standing on His promises, the only place to go is up.