Richard Carlson

Richard Carlson

Most of us have all heard the famous lines, “There are no atheists in foxholes” and “There are no atheists in the trenches.” No one knows who said this first, but sources go back to World War I as the time those lines started to be used. While there is no agreement as to who first said these lines, the origin question is not as important as the truth question. There is no disagreement about the meaning of those two lines.

A writer I enjoy reading is David Roper. This gentleman from Idaho often shares thoughts that are exceedingly practical. Recently he spoke of his leaf blower that is old, but it still does the job of blowing his patio clean from leaves in the fall. The old machine sputters, rattles, smokes, emits blue smoke at times, and is excessively noisy. David shared how his dog has gotten used to the old leaf blower. When David starts it up, his old dog doesn’t even raise her head. She is reluctant to move at all, even when he blows leaves or dirt in her direction.

Rightly David adds, “That’s because our dog trusts me.”

But occasionally now David, who has gotten older, gets a young man to come over and blow clean the patio. David’s dog will never tolerate that young man’s presence. It’s the same old blower noise, but it’s a different operator. Years ago, when this dog was just a puppy, this young man teased her with the blowing machine and she never forgot. Now, David says, whenever he enters their backyard, they have to put this usually quiet dog in the house. She growls, barks, and snarls at him. It’s the same old noisy blower, with the same set of circumstances, but the hands that use the blower, make all the difference.

Lately I have faced some frightening circumstances as a pastor, both personally and in connection with my being a pastor. Frightening circumstances can be exceedingly troublesome and terrifying if we do not trust the hands that control them. If our world today were governed by a heartless, thoughtless, and indifferent force, we would have good reason to fear. Yet for each of us today, knowing that the hands that control our universe are God’s wise and loving hands, makes all the difference in finding strength to relax in His perfect peace. Knowing the hands that sovereignly control our universe were stretched out in love on Calvary’s cross for us, is my strong cause to trust and not be afraid.

Thirty-five hundred years ago, Moses asked God who He was, and God answered with a peculiar, but wonderful answer. God said, “Tell the Israelites I am sending you to deliver from bondage that ‘I AM’ has sent Me to you. … This is My Name forever.”

Julie Ackerman Link wrote about the significance of God’s Name saying, “A sentence needs only two things to be complete: a subject and a verb. So, when God says His name is “I AM,” it conveys the concept that He is complete in Himself. He is subject and verb. He is everything we could possibly need.”

What’s going on in your world today? Are you up against some difficult struggles? One man came into my office today just to tell me how difficult things are for him. We prayed together. I told him about the Lord Jesus afresh. Jesus put flesh on God’s bareboned answer to Moses. Jesus left heaven to die in our place, and to pay the ransom for our salvation.

Jesus told His disciples, “I am the way, the truth, and the life, the bread of life, the good shepherd, the light of the world, the resurrection and the life, the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, saying, “Before Abraham was, I am.”

Last week I was reading words of a man from southern India, from Kerala, named Shaji George Kannothra. He is a teacher in a Bible institute there. One day he gave his students a special assignment to write a prose-poem on the topic, “If I were given two wings.” It was hard for the students at first, but soon, all of them were writing.

The favorite prose-poem was written by a man named Salmaan. He wrote, “Oh, were I blessed with two wings, with them I would fly afar to become wings for those who have no wings.”

What powerful words those are! The great “I AM” calls us to surrender ourselves completely to Him, reaching out to others, and becoming a source of love, knowledge and healing. If we represent God to others to help them fly above life’s threatening storms, they can find comfort in His presence. Those are wings we could all use today. Are you in a trench or foxhole that has you looking up? Are you questioning who God is? Take time to read the Gospel of John. There you will discover who Jesus is in the pages of His holy Word. He is the image of the invisible God. He is waiting to speak to you in His Word. He is also waiting to enter your heart, if you will pray in repentance and faith, inviting Him into your life. May this invitation give you wings to fly to the Lord in your storm today.

Richard Carlson is the pastor of the Rock Springs Evangelical Free Church. Of his 51-plus years in ministry, he has pastored locally for the last 42 years.

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