I closed the well worn, well loved Bible picture book and put it on the bed. My four year old son beamed up at me, eyes bright and alive, “Mummy” he said importantly “I’m gonna fight Goliath! Because God and me are strong!”. You can guess at the story we’d just read and probably guess at my mothers-heart response. I smile still as I remember this moment. The moment this tiny little boy, barely up to my waste in hight, named a truth larger than any giant. His little heart knew, his young eyes saw, his spirit understood exactly how it worked, this truer truth than the blast of cannon fire and rhetoric of power hungry depots, this larger truth than any regime that ever grabbed at power. This truth that Babel tower builders have never understood.
All real power belongs to God. And He chooses to use it in very different ways to human beings. Lasting change in this world is brought about not by might and strength. Lasting change comes through small people who’s hearts are beating in time with God’s, stepping out courageously with Him into the dark, armed only with the conviction that giants will fall before them because God and them are strong.
Abraham had courageously followed God into the unknown. And God had blessed him. Abraham’s children’s children, the children of Israel flourished in the blessing of God’s presence with them…when they chose to remain in His presence. But, like us, in their lives the wheat grew among tares, the sheep among goats and the light amongst the inner dark.
And yet still God remained faithful. Walking with them, partnering with them, blessing them and caring for them, threading together the tapestry of all the thousand ways He loved them. All the patterns of grace in a life weaving restoration.
Their family line was held together by God’s cords of grace alone… the third strand forming ‘a cord of three strands’ that was ‘not quickly broken’ (Ecclesiastes 4:12), their family line lifeline through repeating generations.
Abraham’s great grandchildren sold their brother into slavery in Egypt, but by God’s grace and intervention alone this younger brother became a statesman and trusted ruler in Egypt. Joseph. But over time Joseph was forgotten and a new power ruled Egypt.
And Israel needed redeeming once more.
“Then a new king, to whom Joseph meant nothing, came to power in Egypt. “Look,” he said to his people, “the Israelites have become far too numerous for us. Come, we must deal shrewdly with them or they will become even more numerous and, if war breaks out, will join our enemies, fight against us and leave the country.”
So they put slave masters over them to oppress them with forced labor, and they built Pithom and Rameses as store cities for Pharaoh. But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and spread; so the Egyptians came to dread the Israelites and worked them ruthlessly. They made their lives bitter with harsh labor in brick and mortar and with all kinds of work in the fields; in all their harsh labor the Egyptians worked them ruthlessly.”
“The king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, whose names were Shiphrah and Puah, “When you are helping the Hebrew women during childbirth on the delivery stool, if you see that the baby is a boy, kill him; but if it is a girl, let her live.” Exodus 1:8-16
What do you do when the ‘power’ you can see with your eyes demands your allegiance against the true power you serve in your heart? What can the weak do in the face of worldly strength?
The greatest tool in the arsenal of any bully is fear. Fear undermines so many human convictions, dismantling our humanity with defaulting self preservation. But the opposite of fear isn’t courage or fearlessness in the face of domination. The opposite of fear is seeing. God with you.
The antithesis of fear is faith.
Faith is seeing God and fearing God above the finite ‘powers’ of this world and partnering with Him in His healing, humanising reign on earth.
What can the weak do in the face of all this worldly strength?
“The midwives, however, feared God and did not do what the king of Egypt had told them to do; they let the boys live.” Exodus 1:17
What can the weak do in the face of all this worldly strength? See reality as it truly is… and then live there; with God; gently defying all worldly pretensions to power by living in allegiance to the Kingdom of God on earth.
Faith isn’t a human conviction. It’s not a religious principle. Not a theological idea. Faith is the heart’s full realisation of the reality of YHWH as Lord over all the Earth, God with us.
“Then the king of Egypt summoned the midwives and asked them, “Why have you done this? Why have you let the boys live?’” “The midwives answered Pharaoh, “Hebrew women are not like Egyptian women; they are vigorous and give birth before the midwives arrive.” Exodus 1:18
Faith is living in the story that God has written, not the story of the world. Faith is fearing God, not the powers of this world. Faith is seeing God at work, because He is there to be seen, sleeves rolled up, working in this world.
In every war zone, every battlefront, every trauma, every fear. He is there. Darkness is not the only story being written into history. Light is matching it stride for stride and will eventually overcome it.
“So God was kind to the midwives and the people increased and became even more numerous. And because the midwives feared God, he gave them families of their own.” Exodus 1:20-21
Bullies, emperors, kings, politicians, despots. They all make the mistake of thinking they hold power. But all they have is finite worldly power. There is another power at work in the world. Stubbornly. Resolutely. refusing to give up on humankind.
These vulnerable, weak, oppressed women feared the right thing, and courageously lived in the right story. The Long story of God at work in the world. The long story of grace.
All real power belongs to God. And He chooses to use it in very different ways to human beings. Lasting change in this world is brought about not by might and strength. Lasting change comes by small people who’s hearts are beating in time with God’s, stepping out courageously with Him into the dark, armed only with the conviction that giants will fall before them, because God and them are strong.
What story are you living in? The Long story of God at work in the world, His long story of grace, or another one?