Sunday, February 28, 2016

The God Who is not Superman

It's that moment when you're falling....the bottom's dropped out and your fingers try to grab onto anything close, but every ledge, every fire escape, rushes by too fast. The street below gets bigger and bigger. Any minute, you're going to hit bottom.

And then it happens....

You feel strong hands under your shoulders and behind your knees, the ground stops rushing up and you're swept instead into at last.
Who else could it be? Superman.

Oh, I do like that moment....the feeling of rescue. The fear as it drains away and you wrap grateful arms around his neck. 

What is is about that guy, anyway? I'm pretty sure it's not the cape. It's not the muscles or that cute curl in the middle of his forehead. In fact, I'm pretty sure I know why the Man of Steel appeals so much, at least to me.

It's that in giving in to Superman, I'm admitting a secret vulnerability.
I mean really.
When was the last time any of us had to be rescued from anything? 
In general, we are capable, intelligent, and self-sufficient.  I don't fall off buildings. Bad guys don't chase me. No one needs to rescue me. Not really.

And a good thing too. Because Superman isn't real. I know that. *shrug*

But here's the rub. 
Sometimes I still feel like I need rescue. 

Everybody seems to be calling my name at once. The washer breaks on the same day as it snows 15 inches. Three of our children all get the flu at the same time and we don't have insurance. Somebody hits the only car we own. Somebody we love betrays. Somebody we love dies. 

I'm not falling off a bridge, but it sure feels like it. Superman may be fiction, but my feelings are real. I'm hanging alone at the end of my rope. I've done everything I know to do and I'm still going down for the third time. No man, super or not, is coming to help.
There's only one thing to do--and I cry out:

Rescue me, Oh Lord, 
Make haste to help me...
Free me from the snare they have set for me... 
Come quickly and answer me. 
Do not turn away from me or I will die...
Psalm 40, 31,143

And He does. God rescues.
Not like Superman. Not with cape and tights. But like God. 
The God Who is not Superman. 

And there's a big difference.

This is what God's rescue looks like:
When I prove my holiness among you, I will gather you from all foreign lands; and I will pour clean water upon you and cleanse you from your impurities, and I will give you a new spirit, says the Lord. --Ezekiel 36:23-26

He just doesn't fold us into His arms, carry us to safety, and then fly off to the next crisis.
God completes the job. He makes us holy.
He doesn't pat us on the head and let us straighten our skirt and go our way. He cleans us from the inside out.
He doesn't give us a pert little salute. He gives us a new spirit.

He has to and, better yet, He wants to.
Like Moses who had to take off his shoes before he could approach God in the burning bush, like the Israelites who had to believe God before they could enter the promised land, we have to be prepared. God's rescue isn't a one-step process.
He wants to reclaim all of us, inside and out, and that takes time.

That's real rescue. 
God plucks us out of danger by showing us our sin and guiding us to the firm ground of repentence.
God takes us to high ground by gifting us with faith and hope.
God puts out his hand, helping us stand every day in growing the fruit of His Spirit--kindness, meekness, self-control, and all the rest.

And, when He is done, He brings and keeps us near, made new in confidence in Him, leaning on His shoulder, depending on the only sure rescue there ever was and ever will be.
And there it is, the fear draining away as you wrap grateful arms around His neck...
Do not be afraid. I have ransomed you. I have called you by name. You are Mine.--Isaiah 43:1

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