1If it had not been the Lord who was on our side—let Israel now say—
2if it had not been the Lord who was on our side, when our enemies attacked us,
3then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us;
4then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us;
5then over us would have gone the raging waters.
6Blessed be the Lord, who has not given us as prey to their teeth.
7We have escaped like a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped.
8Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.
It is a witness that Eugene Peterson describes as "vivid and contagious." Yes, as we look back we see the hand of God that was always "for us." God is with us at all times and wanting only what will bring us new life.
And so, today and during this Advent season, it seems to me that it is a good exercise to just look back and seeing what a difference our faith has made in our lives.
I am just about to leave Phoenix tomorrow but tonight I had that chance with Susan and Ken - friends of almost 45 years - to look back in wonder and awe at the ways in which we can see the hand of God at work We have been through so much - operations, cancer, job loss, divorce, death of parents, and struggles with children. And we can see that God has been faithful to us - our help.
and so with we finished this sentence in many ways
IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR THE LORD......
- I would be mired in myself
- my world would not be so clear
- I would not have survived my some of the challenges of my life
- his strength would not have comforted me
- my fears would take be over
- my heart would be smaller
- I would not have known his Holy Spirit
and so tonight I wonder how we would - on any given day - finish this sentence - "If it has not been for the Lord......."
I know it is easy to be almost simplistic in our faith - attributing every good thing to God. I write today when a man caused harm to people at OSU, when our country is still roiling from the election, when too many people around the world do not have the freedoms and abundance we have enjoyed.
And I write knowing in my life and my own story that there is help that is beyond us as we continue on this journey of trusting God with our lives - and giving God our attention and our best selves. So that there are times in which we say - with confidence - IF IT HAD NOT BEEN FOR THE LORD....I would not have found my life.
I end with a quote from Eugene Peterson's A Long Obedience in the Same Direction
"We speak our words of praise in a world that is hellish;
we sing our songs of victory in a world where things get messy;
we live our joy among people who neither understand nor encourage us.
But the content of our lives is God, not humanity. We are not scavenging in the dark alleys of the world, poking it its garbage cans for a bare subsistence.
We are traveling in the light, toward God who is reich in mercy and strong to save.
It is Christ, not culture, that defines our lives.
It is the help we experience, not the hazards we risk, that shapes our days."