Some races are more important than others.
I love fast cars. Though I now drive a sensible minivan--which I also love--back in the day, I had fast cars. My favorite was my gunmetal gray 1987 300ZX. She was a pistol. My oldest son loves fast cars, too. We are getting ready to attend the upcoming Firestone St. Petersburg Grand Prix in early March. St. Pete is getting ready, too. I was just there this weekend and they are already shutting down streets and setting up barricades and grandstands. The three-day event includes two days of qualifying races to get ready for the big day. Getting ready is important.
In the past three days, American fighter jets have shot down three mystery objects in U.S. and Canadian airspace. Last week, the U.S. shot down the infamous Chinese spy balloon over the mid-Atlantic, later confirming its payload was surveillance gear. My friend Julie of the Everyday Miracles podcast (a really good show!) saw the surreal sphere hovering high above her Charlotte, North Carolina suburb.
That's just weird. Very weird.
At this writing, it's unclear if this is a sudden flurry of bold insurgence into protected airspace or a trigger happy response to innocent weather balloons that have been floating around for decades. Regardless, it's altogether unsettling, given the ever devolving state of world affairs in all quarters.
The latest bizarre balloon events simply magnify the growing sense of a world out of control, even as many of us--particularly in America--plug along in our happy little bubbles of comfortably sheltered indifference.
As I was strolling the St. Pete waterfront art festival, sitting in a charming cafe, and meandering through the overpriced boutiques catering to wealthy tourists, I couldn't help but think of Ukraine, Turkey, and Syria--normal lives overturned in an instant, mostly completely unprepared for the upheaval that came. Let's not even start on the unavoidable ripple effects. On a grand scale or individually, we can face unexpected crises that challenge our readiness.
What is ready?
How does one prepare for hostile invasion or acts of God? How many canned goods do you need? What about water? Do you check the structural engineering specs of your abode to ensure they're up to code? You'd want to have some kind of getaway or emergency plan and kit, right? What goes in that? Do you want currency under the mattress or can you better barter with flour or gold? Let's not even talk about toilet paper! Will we ever forget how absurdly precious TP became at the height of COVID?! Actually, many of us have already forgotten the panic and pandemonium of the height of quarantine. We have selectively short memories, we humans.
How about spiritual readiness? Are we consumed by paralyzing, blinding fear? Do we have the fortitude to face hardship with serenity and focus? And what if the worst happens? Are we ready for eternity and do we know where we'll land at lights out?
I confess I'm not much of a prepper, but I do have some basic provisions and am a generally resourceful person. Mostly, my safety net, my back-up plan, my stockpile, my go-to, my generator, and my hope, my readiness is Jesus alone. Truly. I have come to believe that Jesus is sufficient for every need--whether my material needs or often way more important--my emotional and spiritual needs. Indeed, He does also provide wisdom and insight to enable us to be ready from the practical standpoint.
This didn't happen overnight. This is confidence in a relationship that has been cultivated over time, in the trenches, forged in fire, tested by immense pressure, sought out in long dark nights. It's hard to show up on a stranger's doorstep begging for help, even if the stranger is willing. SO much better to have a solid, steady, and long-standing relationship with an omnipotent, loving God, the ultimate provider and protector. The ultimate source of peace and power that transcends all the absurdity that can come our way.
The Good News is we have One. One Who is always ready, even when we're not.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.2 We do this by keeping our eyes on Jesus, the champion who initiates and perfects our faith. Because of the joy awaiting him, he endured the cross, disregarding its shame. Now he is seated in the place of honor beside God’s throne.
The Good News
Not to push the panic button, but the pervasive madness seems to be getting madder. We are increasingly reminded that stuff can happen any time that is way, way, beyond our control. Even Jim Gaffigan, the totally hilarious and insightful comedian, alluded to this in his show I attended Friday night. Mimicking God, witnessing our dorky and tragic indifference to all manner of calamity, he wisecracked, "What have I got to do to get these people to listen to me?" It was funnier when Jim said it.
Really. What does God have to do to get our attention?
Let's turn our attention to Jesus, who not only loves us so much that He died for us, but who can also meet all our needs and enable us to face whatever comes our way with peace, endurance, and even joy.
PRAYER: Dad, You know all that's happening down here and You know how the story ends. You hold the world in Your hands and no earthly power is greater than You! Please, help any anxiety about world events or even our own troubles turn our eyes toward You. Help us get right with You so we're ready for anything. Let us experience Your supernatural power, peace, and sufficiency in a real way. Thank You. I love You.
ACTION: Anytime you read a headline that triggers fear, take a moment to pray for that very issue and the people involved.
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