House of Cards is a T.V. drama that my husband and I enjoy watching. In one of the episodes, the president’s wife goes for a run. The president’s security detail (the team assigned to protect the safety and security of the president) has to accompany her. As she jogs, she has the president’s security team running behind her to ensure she is safe. Seeing that, I thought, I’d like a security detail too! But I’m not the First Lady, so I am not entitled to it!
You see, I get very nervous when I travel by myself. Apart from the fact that I have a terrible sense of direction, I am also very paranoid that I could be attacked or mugged. And when I am nervous, or anxious, I can be quite restless.
And I'm not the only one. We are each plagued by a brokenness within us that evolves into an unquenchable restlessness. That restlessness teaches us to chase after the things we think would give us rest. In other words, the things we chase after expose what we think will give us rest.
I chase after security -- desperately! I am extremely defensive, insecure, and feisty towards incidents and people that threaten my security. This stems from my belief that “no one is watching my back”. But that is a lie.
Through my recent reading of Amos 1, I’ve been dwelling on the imagery of God as a roaring lion. He swears unrelenting punishment on those who have committed injustices. I saw that despite the Santa Claus God I’ve characterised Him as, He’s much deeper, and more loving (and, no, my good works won’t win me any “gifts”). But He is also angry! In Amos He is angry about the murder, the genocide and slavery that had taken place (I am paraphrasing here).
In God’s eyes, even the smallest injustice is as bad as what I may perceive as the worst. So with a perfect God, his rightly justified anger instead of being poured out on me was poured out on the cross – where Jesus, the Lamb was slain. So with Jesus as my shield, I am not a subject of God’s anger, but someone who gets to befriend the Lion.
In Mathew 18:12–14, Jesus talks about God as a shepherd who is not willing to lose his sheep, so he goes out looking for the wandering, lost sheep. What struck me as interesting is that we often think of a guide, or a leader, to be in front of us, or leading from the front, but a shepherd stands behind the sheep, and leads them from behind. This gives the shepherd a view of the wandering sheep.
What if I’m a black sheep? Do I get punished, ridiculed and ostracised by the Shepherd for not being like the rest of the sheep? Is God like that? Does He ostracise black sheep? Though the terror He promises in Amos 1 may make Him seem that way, He’s actually inexpressibly beautiful.
Jesus took the place of every “black sheep” (figuratively speaking -- nothing against the colour), by being separated from God, by being ostracised and humiliated on the cross, so we wouldn’t have to be. Isn’t that what Jesus did when he came to earth? He loved me enough to put aside his comfort and reach out to our finite world so we could experience the infinite glory and grace of the divine: that God’s anger was pointed towards Christ, and not me.
But, more often than not, I remain restless because I have forgotten how my identity was secured. Instead, when I feel insecure and believe no one has my back, I have to remember this God who sent His Son, the Lamb who died so I wouldn’t have to be ostracised and thrown out of His company.
So in front of me roams a lion that protects my path, and Jesus, the Lamb, shields me from my sin by His sacrifice from God’s anger and punishment, and God’s Holy Spirit is watching me from behind and pulling me back when I go astray. The Lion, the Lamb and the Shepherd have got my back. I have to remind myself again and again, that there is a three-part Security Detail always with me. I needn't fear or be restless!
As hard as this is to believe, this is the truth – that we are living in the hope of becoming our future glory selves, but till then may our restlessness draw us closer to the one that gives us ultimate rest, not our heart’s idol that will fail us.
Every morning I wake up restless. My soul wakes up hungry, yearning for rest, for comfort, for satisfaction. Moments when I break down looking at my own heart, or look at the brokenness around me, I remind myself that the ultimate rest isn’t here yet. When the Lion sends the Lamb back, “He will make all things new” and then I won’t be restless, because Jesus has won my rest.
Photo Credit: Pixabay