Summary: The earth and everything in it is unstable, shaky. The great question is, how are we to live with that recognition. On what should we build our lives?
3rd Last Sunday in the Church Year
An Unshakable Kingdom
My tongue get tied when I try to speak
My insides shake like a leaf on a tree
There’s only one cure for this body of mine
That’s to have the girl that I love so fine!
My hands are shaky and my knees are weak
I can’t seem to stand on my own two feet
Who do you thank when you have such luck?
I’m in love
I’m all shook up!
It’s a powerful thing; that is, love. And not just for Elvis, who couldn’t seem to stand still. It can seemingly make the earth move beneath anyone’s feet if by chance they meet the “right” someone. It can turn the biggest of men into broken-hearted babes if it suddenly fails to be so right.
But we all know that there’s much more in life that can rattle us than the roller coater ride of a youthful relationship. I can guarantee you that Judy was just a little bit more than “shook up” when I told her that I was going to begin this sermon with Elvis Presley’s All Shook Up. I can still remember the startled look as the image passed before her eyes, and it wasn’t one that said, “I can’t wait to see that!” I don’t think my kids would find the sight worthy of appreciation either.
But in all seriousness, there’s a lot about this life and this world that’s unstable, that disappoints, that shakes us to the core. In fact, we’re waking up most mornings these days to a myriad of things that leave us all shook up. There are natural disasters, sudden changes in climate, solar flares and any number of alternating circumstances that remind us of the instability of life we observe all around us. And if we don’t constantly react to our changing circumstances, we risk getting swept away; which is just as true if we seek help in all the wrong places.
Quite a number of people in California know that full well. They’ve learned the hard way. Having lived out there and having witnessed wild fires like those over the past two weeks, I feel safe assuming that there were quite a number of people who didn’t just evacuate their homes. There were undoubtedly some who took to the defense of their homes with a garden hose. I’ve seen it happen before. They’ll stand on their rooftops armed with a skinny tube, wetting their roofs, spraying surrounding trees, trying to avert the inevitable. Many lost their homes anyway, together with valuables and keepsakes they might have saved if they had used the time to gather up belongings instead of worthlessly trying to save it all. Some of them lost even more – their own lives.
While the firestorms of life are brewing, while the earth is coming unglued beneath our feet and making it important us to react; it’s just as important that we react in the right way, that we run to safety, where it can truly be found.
It’s important because many of our would-be-saviors are offering nothing but shaky ground too. Look at government, our would-be-savior of every societal woe. It carries out its God-given task of protecting us from harm; but it’s full of politicians who want to manipulate circumstances for their own political gain; even while it is costing us money, our well-being, our futures, and our lives. Look at science. It promises to answer every mystery, heal every disease, and overcome every handicap. Yet, some of its cures appear to be more threatening than the problems they claim to solve. Or consider investment banking. Many of us have sunk huge sums of money in a stock market that promised huge dividends only to learn the hard way that nothing is such a sure thing; especially when it’s entrusted to the hands of sinful human beings. In years past it was Enron, World Com and other companies. This past week we learned that Mutual Fund giant, Putnam, was under investigation for fraud. And on and on it goes, unsettling our minds, shaking our confidence; as we could say about any number of things in this life, in our world. Bodies that have failed us, skills that have left us, friends who have deserted us, even our own good intentions to do the good God wants us to do – they’re all part and parcel of this shaky world we live in.
The great question is, having realized this, what are we now to do? How should we now live? What affect should this have on how we proceed?
Amazingly, some just put on a brave face on it saying they’re not at all affected. Jesus is with them. Nothing bad can happen to them. They base such claims on verses like Psalm 62:1,2; 5,6 that read: “1 My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from him. 2 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will never be shaken… 5 Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. 6 He alone is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I will not be shaken.” But this is reading something into the text that was never meant by the psalmist. It communicates the absolute confidence that the believer can place in the providence and care of God. But it in no way guarantees us that God’s people will never experience the terrible effects of war, or famine, or plagues, etc.