An ant superhero. Yeah, someone back in the 60s thought that was a good idea. And somehow Atom Ant became a thing. For two years (and lots and lots of reruns) one of the smallest critters on planet earth was considered super enough to be a super hero. In Atom Ant’s case, he had lots of powers … super strength (he’s an ant, after all), super speed, he could fly, and generally was invulnerable. He also had a super computer and exercise / gym equipment (because he wasn’t strong enough somehow?). In other words, he had abilities, knowledge, and powers that others needed in order to fight crime. So much so, that in the cartoons the police were otherwise incapable of fighting crime without having to turn almost incessantly to Atom Ant. Thank God our real police aren’t inept like those in Atom Ant’s metropolis! Regardless, this infinitesimal insect was somehow able to garner our credence that he could secure the world as a super hero.
We give that same credence to Superman, Spiderman, Mighty Mouse (yeah, I know … not so much), Captain America and on and on and on. But how about … God?
As I read this week from Numbers 8 to Numbers 25 and Psalms 90, we find a continual reminder about the incredulous Israelites who, smack-dab in the midst of the Lord’s miracles, can’t muster sufficient confidence in His Ability, Knowledge, and Power. Let me be clear that I’m not intending to bust on them … because when we read Numbers 11:8-23, it’s more than a reflection of them, nearly 4,000 years ago. It’s a reflection of us in relation to the Superest Hero there is.
“And say to the people, ‘Purify yourselves, for tomorrow you will have meat to eat. You were whining, and the Lord heard you when you cried, “Oh, for some meat! We were better off in Egypt!” Now the Lord will give you meat, and you will have to eat it. And it won’t be for just a day or two, or for five or ten or even twenty. You will eat it for a whole month until you gag and are sick of it. For you have rejected the Lord, who is here among you, and you have whined to him, saying, “Why did we ever leave Egypt?”’” But Moses responded to the Lord, “There are 600,000 foot soldiers here with me, and yet you say, ‘I will give them meat for a whole month!’ Even if we butchered all our flocks and herds, would that satisfy them? Even if we caught all the fish in the sea, would that be enough?” Then the Lord said to Moses, “Has my arm lost its power? Now you will see whether or not my word comes true!”
The past few months we have watched turmoil reign in our son. When they say that the college application process is difficult, “they” are not exaggerating. It’s brutal … on everyone. It’s especially so as the answers begin to come back. As I noted in a prior post, part of the brutality of the process is in the waiting. For us, the more amplifying factor was when our boy got “deferred” by the school of his dreams. That is, he was neither accepted nor denied.
Of course for him, disappointment, anger, frustration, fear, uncertainty and timidity ensued (if you read through the post-Exodus journey of the Israelites, these are many of the sentiments you will see them express). Perhaps understandable. But Helen and I tried to encourage him with what we feel we know as fact … that God is able. We told Him, while we don’t know whether God will (let him be accepted to the school), we know without a doubt that God can. But despite our best intentions and efforts, he was unyielding. He decided that there was no way the school would accept him, and he didn’t want our encouragement getting his hopes up falsely any more. And that was that. You see, just like the rest of us at times, he was unable to accept and acknowledge the Ability, Knowledge, and Power of the Superest Hero.
It’s the same story for Moses. After the miraculous rescue by God to deliver the Israelites from slavery in Egypt, the Israelites spend as much time complaining as they do escaping, wandering the desert, constructing the tabernacle, and creating a nation. As would happen in the course of relocating an entire nation, food and water became scarce and the people began to complain about not having meat. God tells Moses not to worry, there will be more than enough meat, to which Moses – tugging at the proverbial cape of the Super(est) Hero – challenges God, asking how in the world that’s plausible.
“But God, there’s no way we can feed this crowd with meat … there’s too many of them!” Let’s face it, anytime we say “but God!” in a disbelieving way, we’re setting ourselves up for a lesson and maybe a painful one. Fortunately for Moses, not in this case, but God responds simply, rhetorically, and powerfully … “Has My arm lost its power?” Wow! Think about this … this is the arm that God has not had to use throughout the Israelites’ journey, because the very power of His will caused plagues to amass against pharaoh and Egypt. It also opened up the Red Sea for the safe passage and rescue of His chosen people. The power of His voice created the heavens and earth and everything in them. Imagine IF He decided to use His arm, how powerful that would be! I don’t think human minds can contemplate the superest powers of the Superest Hero, let alone observe them and survive.
And yet, Moses forgot, and questioned. Just like I do. Just like you probably do. We wonder whether God can do the things that matter to our hearts and our lives. And as a result we’re stuck in the limited possibilities of our capabilities. It’s no wonder we feel unable … we are. But we still resort to the equilibrium position of our powerlessness, mired in a fear of “can’t.” It’s like the police in the Atom Ant show (or any of the other superhero shows frankly), we are overrun from the outset. They consistently had to resort to the power of the superhero … but we pause when it comes to calling upon the Superest Hero.
God CAN. It’s that simple. The question most times is whether God WILL. I get it, that’s rough to wrestle with, no doubt. Even for Moses who had seen deliverance and miracles the likes of which none of us ever will. So no wonder we have a tough time seeing it too. But like Moses, I think we only have to reorient ourselves to the superest power God has shown time and time again, so that we too can draw certitude in His supremacy.
For our son, well he learned quickly that God CAN, as a direct result of seeing God WILL. Our prayer for him though is that he’ll harken back to this situation when future situations arise. Our prayer is that he’ll look back to see that God CAN without having to see that God WILL. Hopefulness doesn’t arise from knowing God WILL, it comes from knowing God CAN. Superheroes didn’t always have to use all their abilities to fight off bad guys … they just had to have the abilities. The Superest Hero has ALL OF the abilities. My prayer for us is that we too will be able to look back and know that God CAN, even when we’re uncertain whether God WILL.
Soli Deo gloria!