Summary: When we are overwhelmed, in our panic we do not see what is before us, nor can we hear any word of counsel; someone -- innocent, devoted to us -- needs to create a stable point, a hiding place for us. Ultimately that is what Jesus Christ in His cross does.
We have abilities that we barely even use. Our senses are capable of doing much more than we allow them to do.
I want to try a short experiment with you. I want to test your eyes and your ears.
First, I am going to give you thirty seconds to look around this room and take it all in. Many of you are here every Sunday. Some of you have been in this room on Sunday mornings for years and years. And yet I wonder how many of us are really using our eyes to see what is here. I am going to give you thirty seconds to look around, and we’ll find out if you can tell me whether anything is different from the usual arrangement.
The flags! They are reversed from their usual placement. Rev. Wilson gets to be the patriot today and I get to be the Christian! During Vacation Bible School, on the first night we were approaching the point in the program where the children were to say the pledges to the flags, and I looked at the social hall platform, and saw that there were no flags in place! So a couple of us retrieved a set of flags from the Galilean Room. But when I told a member of that class where we had found the flags, she said she had never even noticed that there were flags in that room! We have abilities that we only partly use. We don’t always see what there is to be seen.
And now do we hear what there is to be heard? I’m going to give you another thirty seconds. We’re going to close our eyes to shut out extra distractions, and we’re going to be silent. No singing, no musical instruments, not even any preaching (watch it with those “amens”); just silence. And let’s find out what there is to be heard. What are the sounds of silence?
There really isn’t complete silence, is there? What did you hear? Maybe you heard someone sniffling with a summer cold. Maybe you heard traffic on Piney Branch Road. Maybe you just heard, for the first time, the sound of your own heart beating! Kind of reassuring, isn’t it?! Where I grew up in Louisville, our church was directly across the street from a fire station. Always, right in the middle of the pastor’s most crucial point, or in the quiet time of prayer, the fire station siren would go off, and we might as well have shut down the service, because every mind wandered away, drawn by another sound. In fact, since our Assistant Pastor was also a volunteer chaplain for the fire department, he would leave the platform and go chase the fire truck! Sister, don’t even think about it!
Distracted by the sounds of the world, caught up by the sights and sounds of all our responsibilities, captured by what grabs our attention, it’s easy to be distracted. It’s hard to stay on target; it’s hard to feel together and focused. We get unsettled and uneasy with everything. There’s too much to see, so we see nothing; there’s too much to hear, so we hear nothing. We are uneasy and insecure.
God’s word then encourages us to find a hiding place. God invites us to discover a secure spot, to receive a protection. A hiding place from which we can see and hear what’s real.
Margaret and I had just been married a few weeks when we were asked to accompany the youth of our church on a recreational outing. They were going to go swimming at Butler Dam State Park in northern Kentucky. Off we went, brave little chaperones, to supervise the youth and to keep them safe. The only problem was, who would keep the safekeepers safe? Putting me in charge of swimmers is a little like sending the fox to guard the chicken coop. I had never learned to swim. Nonetheless, off we went, and at the lake all went swimming, except for yours truly, who stayed pretty close to shore. However, as the day wore on, and others were having a great time, I began to show off a little and waded farther out. Unseen and unknown, there was a dropoff in the lakebed, and in a fraction of a second, I was in over my head and I was in trouble. I could see nothing; I could hear nothing. I remember flailing away with my arms and legs, frantically trying to find something to hold on to. It was one of the most frightening moments of my life. The fact that I am here today is testimony to that Scripture that says, “The Lord preserveth the simple.” Or, as one of my friends puts it, “The Lord looks out for preachers and other idiots.”