Devotional: An active faith, not fatalism

Psalm 121:1-2

Week 24 (June)

A few days after our return to Italy from our first home assignment year. I was in the apartment of an Italian woman. There, over a cup of espresso in her small, high-ceilinged kitchen, our conversation turned to spiritual matters. She is not a born-again Christian, although her daughter and son-in-law were converted 15 years ago.

"I believe in fate," she suddenly said to me. "Whatever is going to happen to you is going to happen."

When I started to protest, she continued, "How else do you explain the fact that a man is hit by a car as he crosses a certain street corner? He could have crossed somewhere else or waited a moment and have lived. It's all up to chance or fate."

That's a tough argument to counter. In fact, in my book,Paul McGrady: Mr. Evangelism, I did not feel competent to address the "why?" of the death of an evangelist-professor right in the prime of his life and ministry.

Let it be said, however, that I believe in the Holy-Spirit-inspired words of David in Psalm 121:8: "The Lord will watch over your coming and going both now and forevermore".

Life is more than a mere chain of circumstances that we cannot control. Unfortunately, however, Satan too often lulls us into accepting a view of life like this woman's. Sometimes we even find ourselves saying, "Well, that's the way life is."

But is it only that? Isn't there a Creator who is indeed active on our behalf? Didn't the Holy Spirit inspire David to write, "The Lord watches over you -- the Lord is your shade at your right hand" (Psalm 121:5)?

With my limited human perspective, I don't have all the answers to the questions of life. I don't know why we are sometimes dealt such hard blows. But I do know that there is much more than mere fate or chance at work. When we find ourselves living on the level of this woman with little conscious realization of God's presence, we must remember to ask ourselves with David, "Where does my help come from?" (v.1)?

Help does come from the Lord! That's David's view of life expressed in Psalm 121. We are aware of God who never tires of being our Keeper. And we have the opportunity to express often, both to ourselves and to others, our faith in a God who is actually intervening in our affairs.

We needn't live out our lives resigned to fatalism. Our thoughts don't have to be tainted by anything that smacks of a dead obliviousness to God's presence and action.

Let's put our faith actively in the Lord Jesus Christ. Our Messiah is all that David pictures Him to be in Psalm 121, and He is even more.

I wrote these devotional thoughts whil we were serving as missionaries in Italy. They originally appeared in the June 15, 1980 edition of Standard, a take-hoe piece for adult Sunday school classes.

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