Since 9/11, though perhaps always, the indispensible roles of “first responders” appropriately has been lofted into the limelight because of the heroic life-saving work these folks do on a daily basis. Particularly the recent travesty and disgrace around the treatment of police officers has made this an important topic for me. Somehow, my level of acuity in seeing, observing, and appreciating the work of police in particular has increased substantially. Whenever I see a police officer or sheriff these days in a coffee shop, I buy their coffee. The way I see it, it’s the least I can do since they, you know, protect my livelihood and that of my family and friends.
It’s not just police, though. There are firefighters, paramedics, EMTs, dispatchers, and countless others who save our bacon every day. We might not even notice them. But they’re there. They’re the ones running toward the danger and the fires, they’re the ones that resuscitate our loved ones, get them to hospitals, save our homes, and all the rest.
They ARE heroes, and they DO deserve our respect and gratitude.
As I was reading through the Psalms this week (Psalms 58 – 63, Proverbs 10), I was reminded about another first responder who deserves our respect and gratitude.
Psalms 61 says …
O God, listen to my cry! Hear my prayer! From the ends of the earth, I cry to you for help when my heart is overwhelmed. Lead me to the towering rock of safety, for you are my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me. Let me live forever in your sanctuary, safe beneath the shelter of your wings! Interlude For you have heard my vows, O God. You have given me an inheritance reserved for those who fear your name. Add many years to the life of the king! May his years span the generations! May he reign under God’s protection forever. May your unfailing love and faithfulness watch over him. Then I will sing praises to your name forever as I fulfill my vows each day.
When dangers arise, we reach out to the first responders in law enforcement, firefighting, paramedics, etc. It’s not even a thought. It’s a reaction, a reflex because we’ve been taught and conditioned over time that when trouble comes up, when our safety is threatened, when we need the expertise and wisdom and intervention by those equipped to handle the peril, we know who to call. And when we call, we have assurance that the responders will indeed respond.
God’s a first responder. The First Responder. When dangers arise, we can reach out to Him. In fact, He’s the first one we should reach out to when things go bad. It shouldn’t even be a thought. It should be a reaction, a reflex because (hopefully) we’ve been taught and conditioned over time that when trouble comes up, when our safety is threatened, when we need the expertise and wisdom and intervention by the One best equipped to handle the peril, we know Who to call. And for sure … when we call, we have 100% assurance that the First Responder will indeed respond.
There sure are a lot of conditions in that paragraph above, huh? Let’s break them down a little.
First, there are a few statements that are NOT conditional in nature. That is … when dangers arise, we CAN reach out to him. Period. There are no conditions or subjectivities involved. Where God is concerned, when we need Him we can reach Him. It’s a promise, a commitment, a covenant … He will not break His word. Ever.
The condition comes in terms of the fact that we should reach out, it shouldn’t be a thought, it should be a reaction and a reflex. This is the place where it’s on us to seek His help and protection. It’s just like the police, firefighters, and other first responders. For the most part, no matter how amazing they are (and the ARE amazing), it doesn’t matter in the least unless we actually call them when we need them. If our home is being burglarized (God forbid) and we don’t contact the police, help is not going to be on its way. Same with if a fire broke out in our home. If we don’t call the fire department, in all likelihood the fire is going to spread and there’s a chance the house will just burn down.
With God, as noted above, He’s always there when we need Him. Unlike the police and firefighters, though, He knows everything and will know when the tumultuous situations in life arise. However, at times we go through the burglaries and fires in life and we don’t call upon God and then we’re surprised when He doesn’t come to the rescue. It’s not to show indifference on God’s part, but just in the same way we shouldn’t be shocked that the police or fire department don’t show up to a crime or fire they don’t know about, we shouldn’t be stunned that God doesn’t show up when we don’t call on Him.
Again, I don’t mean to suggest that God is either indifferent or unaware. Quite the contrary. I guess my point here is what relates to us. When the fires burn and the dangers boil, we bristle that God hadn’t prevented them or stopped them from getting out of control. But if we hadn’t engaged Him, called upon Him, or depended on Him previously, and if we had previously never had contact and acknowledged that there was Someone to call upon, why are we surprised if there isn’t a prevention or response?
The fact is, God – just like the police and fire department and other first responders – is always prepared, always at the ready, always capable, always in position to be the protector and defender we need. But we have to acknowledge His presence, believe in and trust His ability, and invite Him into our circumstances.
Is there something keeping you from giving God that credence? Is there a disbelief in or lack of trust in what He’s able to do, or a concern about His willingness to do it? Does that stop you from inviting Him into your circumstances? The Bible is clear … straight from Psalms 61 (and many, many other places) … God is “my safe refuge, a fortress where my enemies cannot reach me.” Whether our refuge is from the perils of theft or fire or frailties, God is that refuge. Our enemies … those very dangers we need a First Responder for … cannot reach us. They cannot destroy us. Why, because our First Responder is there to stop the hazards in their tracks.
Let’s pray that we would indeed seek our real First Responder before, during, and after the danger, believing well in advance that He will be there. He will indeed respond.
Soli Deo gloria!