I sat in court today, listening as each defendant came forward and, in a frenzied attempt to take the oh-so-sweet plea agreement, completely waved all constitutional rights. Most were happy to just get out of dodge without looking at jail time. Some wanted to take the agreement, but they tried to appeal to the judge to drop a few fines. It was quite evident that even the $1000 bail bond was going to be more than they could swing, not to mention the costly programs to which the judge would be assigning them. Some knew that their geese were cooked, so they entered the not guilty just to stave off the inevitable for a few more days.
As I sat in court, and as I contemplated how my own life is constantly squeezed by regulation compliance and the like, I started to get the sense that I, like most of the defendants, wasn’t better or worse than the judge or the court officers. It’s just that they have the power and the money, and the power to take my money. It seems that this world is full of people about to fall off the edge with no hope of recovering.
It’s been said that we, Americans especially, live in the richest, most convenient times in the history of the world. And, while I frankly feel that ship sailed a long time ago, it is true that we are spoiled out of our minds. I sit here at the keyboard, typing, instead of spending 12 hours a day in a coal-lined hole in the ground, or in some farmer’s field hoeing from dawn till dusk, or in a sweat shop somewhere, toiling to work off an impossible indenture. Or, I could think back to feudal times, when I might have to work a meager parcel of ground and give most of my produce to the lord in exchange for my protection from some other lord.
The truth is, there are many people in many places who still live this way. There are many people in America who take up residence under freeway overpasses and the like. And, as I have known personally, we are all a bad month or two from being homeless. The truth is, we all walk on the edge of disaster all the time.
Let’s say you are rich. Your family owns a multi-billion-dollar conglomerate, you have millions in the bank, you own a billion in real estate, and you have a small army of servants. Disaster is not close to you, right? Consider Enron, or the British banker who lost 800 billion almost overnight, or all the hedge fund giants who lost everything in one frenzied run. Consider cancer, or heart attack, or a slip and fall that could leave you crippled or paralyzed or a vegetable or dead.
Then there is the stuff that “doomsday sayers” always talk about. Truth is, mishandling the fuel rods at the cripple Japanese reactors could result in nuking half of Japan and contaminating the entire American West coast with fallout. There is a growing volcanic pressure under Yellowstone that could obliterate the American Midwest and send enough ash into the air to create serious winter conditions for years. And, if one of the big faults on the east coast were to move, three falling towers in New York City would pale in comparison. And other volcanoes and earthquakes continue to threaten the world daily. And disease experts tell us that two world-wide plagues of previous centuries came from the same virus that has mutated and is ready to strike again, which will make AIDS seem mild in comparison.
Over the centuries, kingdoms and empires have come and gone. Many promises were made of providing peace and security. And many revolutions were ignited and many kingdoms and empires overthrown with the promises of peace and security and an end, finally, to tyranny. But the tyranny never stops. It just retools. And no amount of tyranny ever moves a people from the brink of disaster. Famines, plagues, floods, fires, wars, quakes, storms still keep coming and coming and coming.
Obamacare preys upon the same fears that have plagued us for thousands of years. Promises were made that it would protect everyone from everything. Yet, we still stand of the edge of disaster. In a frenzied attempt to grab the elusive security of good health, we have completely given up our constitutional rights. Yes, down the road, we know it’s a tax hiking, job-destroying boondoggle that will cook our geese. But, at least for now, we can enjoy the false sense of security for a few brief moments. And those who voted for it could live in the short-lived limelight. We’ll figure the rest out tomorrow.
No matter how good a ship is, when it sinks in deep water, everyone drowns. When the rats desert the sinking ship, they are still going to sink unless they can find solid ground. Jesus Christ is called The Rock. He, the Lord, is described as someone who does not change like shifting shadows. All who found themselves on him will withstand any kind of storm, flood or quake that comes along. He tells us that his burden is light, unlike taxes and insurance. He tells us that those who rest on him will live forever, unlike those in hospitals who eventually all reside in cemeteries. Oh, our bodies will still fail. But, with Christ, that is only a temporary storm like all the rest.
So, what will take our focus today? Poverty? Diseases? Heat waves? Cold waves? Consider what St. Paul wrote:
35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8)
Many can offer us a way to escape this or that threat, a way to hedge money, a way to profit from the misfortune of others. But, disaster is always there waiting for us. Only one offers us true escape.