My Deliverer

Psalm 18:2 The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge. He is my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold.

From time to time one of the kids will have "Fire Safety" day at school. This is usually followed by a dramatic presentation of the proper "stop, drop and roll" technique as well as an inquiry about our family's "Fire Safety Plan". Scott and I of course take the opportunity to discuss with the kids how to get out our house, where to meet, etc. in the event of the fire.

Inevitably, however, this discussion leads to a demonstration of Scott's "fireman" skills. He starts showing off by hauling the kids - one, two or even three at a time, up and down the stairs. He wants them to feel safe in our home and have no doubt that he is strong enough to rescue them in a fire. But every heroic demonstration ends with the acknowledgement that our true source of hope, help and deliverance is God Himself. There is no fire, scenario or circumstance that's too hot for Him to handle.

Today I am reading Acts 21:18-40. Paul has arrived in Jerusalem and is busy catching the church leaders there up on what has been happening with the Gentiles. Likewise, they are telling Paul how the church in Jerusalem has grown. A natural tension exists between the two branches of the church because the Jews in Jerusalem are still following the letter of the Jewish law (Verse 20) while the Gentiles have been instructed to follow only four mandates (Verse 25).

To alleviate some of the tension, Paul participates in a Jewish purification ritual. Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 9:19-23 that he often adopted the local customs and traditions in order to relate to the people there, that some might be saved. Paul put his personal preferences aside to maintain peace and unity among the believers.

What Paul may not have anticipated is that his trouble with the Jews outside of Jerusalem would follow him inside Jerusalem. Near the end of his seven day purification ritual, some Jews arrive from Asia. These Jews are familiar with Paul and his teachings and stir an uprising against Paul. Many people rapidly join this frenzied mob and soon they are beating Paul in an attempt to kill him.

At this point Paul must have realized that the odds were greatly stacked against him. When I think about it, there are many areas in my life where the odds are stacked against me as well. The odds are stacked against me:
  • To raise four daughters to maturity with their purity in tact
  • To maintain a debt-free lifestyle
  • To raise four children who will still be actively engaged in the Christian faith as adults
  • To be married to the same man for the remainder of my life

In each of these areas, I am doing all I know to do to stack the odds in my favor. I am teaching my teenage and pre-teenage daughter about the importance of purity. I am living within the budget my husband and I set. I am helping my daughters develop a relationship with Jesus, not just participate in a religion. I am loving my husband to the best of my ability.

That's sort of where Paul was. He had come to Jerusalem despite the objections of many people because he believed that's exactly where God wanted him to be. He had done his best to be faithful to the calling God had placed on his life. Yet here he is with his back against the wall, knowing the only way out would be for God to intervene directly or through sending the aid of another. Just as all hope might be lost, God sends Roman troops to retrieve Paul.

Knowing the odds are stacked against me means I have to trust God to intervene when one of my daughters is in a compromising position with a boy, when Scott and I are facing financial difficulties, when one of my children begins to wander or when Scott or I face a sexual temptation. Do I really believe God is able to deliver me? Do I really trust His goodness when hope is wearing thin?

Jesus, today I choose to trust You no matter what. When things are going well, I will thank You. When I face insurmountable circumstances, I will praise You. You are my Rock, my Fortress and my Deliverer.

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