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Our Last Resort

September 11, 2017

Like pretty much everyone over the age of 25, the 9/11 attacks are seared into our memories.  I can remember the smell of the soap I had just used to shower.  I remember the phone ringing and my mom saying a plane had just hit the Trade Center.  I turned on the news thinking what a tragic accident.  That thought had no sooner passed through my mind when my wife and I watched in horror as the second plane hit, and instantly, we all knew….

A week later, the ministry I served with had people on the streets of lower Manhattan praying with people, sharing Scripture meeting the physical, spiritual and emotional needs of thousands of people still in shock.

It was amazing.  Normally, New York City is defined by people busily trying to get from one place to another in the traffic and chaos of life in “the city.”  But during the time following the attacks, something happened.  There was a spiritual openness and vulnerability that had never been there before.  Firefighters and police officers were stopping and asking for prayer.  Hardened business people from Wall Street were asking for Scripture seeking comfort.  Church attendance skyrocketed.  There was a spiritual awakening as people tried to make sense of the senseless.

Six months later our team was back in Manhattan.  But now, there was a tragedy that in some ways rivalled the attacks.  The spiritual openness was gone.  Anger had taken the place of fear.  Church attendance was now in decline.  People were back to the business of rebuilding their lives apart from God.

I’ve often wondered what would have happened in that city and in our nation if we had turned our hearts toward God and kept it there.  But alas, we didn’t.

You see, God often uses tragedy on large and small scales to draw our hearts toward Him. It’s a hard but effective tool that God can use to get our attention.  He did it time after time with thenation of Israel in the Old Testament, but for every time he got their attention, they quickly turned away.  They used God as a source of help when they needed Him, but during times of blessing, the praise went somewhere else.

Sometimes we too can treat God like a “divine Walmart.”  When we need a gallon of milk, a new TV, socks and shoes for a new school year, we pop into the store, get what we need and move on.  When we need God, we shoot up a prayer for help or guidance, but when things stabilize, our relationship with the creator of the universe and the lover of our souls goes into neutral.

Why is this?

I’m not sure….  But I think one of the reasons is that we take for granted the depth of His love for us and the price he paid to redeem us.  He’s not a God who wants to bail us out of trouble and then send us on our way.  He wants a passionate, intimate daily relationship with His children.  But when we forget who He is and how deeply He loves us, our relationship gets stale.

The older I get, the more I crave His presence.  He’s used joy and sorrow, prosperity and poverty, sickness and health, all to get my attention.  But by His grace, all I really want is to be in his presence every minute of every day.

In Psalm 24:7 David says, “One thing I ask of the Lord, this is what I see.  To dwell in the house of the Lord all the days of my life.  To gaze upon the beauty of the Lord and to seek Him in His temple.”  David longed in his heart to be continually in the presence of the Lord—rain or shine.

That’s what I want.  That way, when the attacks of life happen, I don’t have to run to Him.  I’m already there.

How about you?