While attending the funeral of a good friend, I was profoundly impacted by a simple story shared by the Pastor conducting the service. Of course, as goes with most memorial services, the time was filled with many stories and reflections of all that my friend had done in his life, sadly cut short by a sudden and unexpected heart attack. It is right that those stories be shared, because my friend was a man of unusual character marked by a lifetime of selfless servanthood and countless lives he had touched.
The sharing, singing, and celebration of a life well lived was muted for me by the powerful truth shared in the introductory remarks of the service.
It seems that a man and his young daughter were out for a drive on a hot summer evening. As they drove along the road, windows open because of the heat, a large wasp flew into the car and began to buzz around the little girl’s head. She was terrified and began to flail her arms wildly at the buzzing insect. Many of us would react the same way, but for her this was an especially dangerous situation because she was allergic to bee stings and knew that a strike by the menacing wasp could mean she could die.
As the child screamed and flailed her arms in an attempt to protect herself from the sting of the wasp her father calmly pulled the car to the side of the road. As he stopped the car, he reached out and grabbed the wasp in his hand. After a moment, he opened his hand and as the wasp flew out of the car the father wiped the tears from his daughter’s eyes and opened his hand for her to see the growing, red whelp in the palm of his hand. He spoke in reassuring tones, “Honey, it’s o.k. The wasp can’t hurt you now. See, I’ve taken away his sting.”
Many of us are deeply concerned, even frightened, as we watch the moral fabric of our nation in decay and the very real spectre of persecution of Christ-followers looming on the horizon. In fact, if you are not concerned, you haven’t been paying attention. Hostility toward our faith is gaining ground even as the celebration of evil and perversion grows all around us.
On and on it goes as we flail our arms wildly at the wasps of liberalism and progressive politics. We are terrified that our churches will lose tax-exemption, our freedoms of speech and religion will be stripped away. We fear that the government will take our guns and march us all off to FEMA camps they are secretly building in the desert; that our churches will be destroyed by bulldozers and our Bibles burned.
The wasps are in the car and believers are flailing our arms and swatting at the denizens from Hell bent upon our destruction. We fear persecution and death because we are so alive to our flesh long having forgotten the command to “take up our cross and follow Christ.”
We have desired the blessings of God but recoil at the prospect of sharing in His suffering.
Is it the nation we hope to preserve or is it in fact, our lifestyle?
Is it our freedom we long to keep, or is it our prosperity?
America is not the Kingdom of God and the Kingdom of God is not America. Saving America is not the same thing at extending the Kingdom of Heaven. Because of our grave national sin, America may justly fade into disgrace and obscurity but the Kingdom of Heaven will never falter nor fail. Jesus said, “Seek first the Kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” (Matthew 6:33)
It may be that our fear of the wasp is greater than our trust in our Father.
I am not immune from worry. I am concerned about the future and what will happen to us as Christ-followers. What might we be forced to endure because of our faith? More importantly to me is what will become of my children and grandchildren? In the middle of all of my own swatting and flailing I attended a memorial service of a friend who had died. Right in the middle of that service God showed me the palm of His hand and said, “It’s o.k. Honey. See, I’ve taken away his sting.”