We are down to our final weeks with “Why Jesus?” This week, Pastor Sara Spohr from Roseville Lutheran Church in Roseville, MN shares a story on Why Jesus? Because Jesus is trustworthy. That’s the theme for this Sunday, February 24 of the Why Jesus? Project.
I visited Tanzania for the first time 13 years ago. After a full itinerary of visiting the churches and ministry sites of the Northern Diocese, our group was excited to be heading out on a 3 day safari to Serengeti National Park. Along the way our land cruiser slowed down through several small villages and marketplaces to let people cross the road. We had a good driver, careful and attentive. It was at one of those crowded intersections where our vehicle slowed way down and was just picking up speed again, when a young boy 9 or 10 years old ran across the road unexpectedly.
The boy was carrying a bundle of firewood. I didn’t see our vehicle hit him, but I knew we did. I knew by the sound his body made when it hit our car and that bundle of firewood that flew up into the air, each piece in a different direction, as if in slow motion. The boy was alive but injured; he had a pretty severe cut on his head. We were able to get him into our vehicle and then drove him to a nearby clinic to see that he was cared for. Our driver took him into the clinic and stayed with him while we waited nearby inside our vehicle. This was a crowded area and in just moments our vehicle was surrounded by hundreds of people. They were pushing up against the car, hands on foreheads against the glass trying to see, through tinted windows, the party responsible for this boy’s injuries. It was unnerving, we felt out of control. My friend suggested that we pray, we did, a beautiful and faithful prayer for the boy, for us, for the whole situation. We said amen. We continued to sit in fear. We continued to be frightened.
A very wise Tanzanian pastor was with us on this journey, and his name was Bildad. I will never forget the fearful question I asked Bildad in that moment, nor will I forget his faithful response:
I asked “What should we do?”
He said, “Did you pray?”
I said, “Of course, we did! You were here, and you prayed with us. What should we do?”
He was quiet for a moment and then he said, “You prayed to God, now don’t you trust your God?”
That happened so long ago, but I can still put myself back in that moment. Like trying to walk on the water toward Jesus, but sinking. The fear was still palpable, I can still hear Bildad words: “You prayed to God, now don’t you trust your God?”
There are so many things over which I do not have control, but I do have control over where I will place my trust
– It makes no sense to put my trust in the values of the empire. The culture that says “get more, take more, have power over more” is not my God.
– It makes no sense to put my trust in what I have obtained; wealth seems to give us some sense of control, but it is a very temporary kind of control.
– It makes no sense to put my trust in myself because more often than not my body and reasoning and even my strength will fail.
It is only God in whom we can trust – this is the only loyalty that makes sense. This kind of trust is not easy. There are so many days where life just feels like we’re sinking and so very out of control. We wait for hope. We wait for good news. We wait to be told that the power hungry self centered talking heads really don’t have the power we thought they did. We wait. We’ve been waiting. We’re still waiting.
But, we wait with hope. We wait with trust. We wait with a deep and abiding kind of hope that God has promised the world a true savior in Jesus Christ. We wait with a steady kind of trust that our God will deliver on such a promise. In the meantime, we must not sit in fear. There is so much for us to do. Yes, it is true that so much is out of our control, but loving our neighbor, sharing God’s hope, dwelling in God’s grace, praying for God’s people and insisting on God’s peace are not. We pray for the courage to live, trusting in the strength of our God we say.
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