“Use caution, the jetpack guy is back.”
These words, conveyed in a Los Angeles International Airport traffic alert, are more dangerous than they might seem.
The FBI is investigating a possible sighting by a commercial airline pilot of an airborne person with a jetpack high in the busy skies near LAX. The agency was already looking into three other possible jetpack sightings in the skies above Los Angeles, though it has not been able to validate these reports.
Much higher in the sky, the International Space Station was recently moved out of position for forty-seven minutes when Russia’s Nauka space module inexplicably lit up hours after it docked in orbit. NASA temporarily lost orientation control of the station as a result, knocking the station out of alignment by around forty-five degrees.
The station must be oriented precisely in order for its solar panels and radio equipment to function properly.
Here’s one more story from the skies: nearly one in five flight attendants say they have gotten into a “physical incident” this year with a passenger. The most common trigger is passengers who refuse to follow the federal requirement that they wear facemasks during flights. Alcohol is the next largest factor, though flight delays play a role as well.
Do you have any “foreign gods”?
No matter where humans go, human nature goes with us. We are the same people whether we are in the air, on land, or in the sea. In fact, we are the same people we have always been. Though our circumstances change constantly, human nature does not. We still face the same temptations, feel the same fears, and cherish the same hopes as our distant ancestors.
This fact explains why the Bible is just as relevant today as when its words were first inspired: the issues it addresses are the same issues we encounter today.
People in the biblical era did not fly over airports wearing jetpacks, into space on rockets, or around the world on airliners. But the hubris, mistakes, and unruliness we have read about today were just as prevalent in their day as in ours.
In fact, the first sin humans ever faced is the foundational sin we face today: “You will be like God” (Genesis 3:5). Be your own God by stealing this or lying about that, by lusting or hating or deceiving—every temptation is but a variation on this theme because this theme still works.
For example, Joshua admonished his people in the Promised Land: “Put away the foreign gods that are among you, and incline your heart to the LORD, the God of Israel” (Joshua 24:23). We might say that we have no “foreign gods” in the sense of physical idols, but anyone or anything that is more important to us than the Lord is just as much an idol today.
Can God send you anywhere and ask you to do anything, or is there something you will not give up for him? In other words, do you have “foreign gods” in your life?
“You are my help and my deliverer”
The other side of the coin, however, is the good news: just as human nature does not change, neither does divine nature. “I the Lord do not change,” he assures us (Malachi 3:6). We are told that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever” (Hebrews 13:8).
When we trust God with our temptation and challenges, his response can be our witness to others. David testified, “I waited patiently for the Lord; he inclined to me and heard my cry. He drew me up from the pit of destruction, out of the miry bog, and set my feet upon a rock, making my steps secure. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God” (Psalm 40:1–3a).
As a result, “Many will see and fear, and put their trust in the Lord” (v. 3b).
Such trust does not exempt us from further challenges: “Evils have encompassed me, and I cannot see; they are more than the hairs of my head; my heart fails me” (v. 12). Thus David prayed again: “Be pleased, O Lord, to deliver me! O Lord, make haste to help me!” (v. 13).
His psalm ends with a declaration of trust in spite of circumstances: “As for me, I am poor and needy, but the Lord takes thought for me. You are my help and my deliverer; do not delay, O my God!” (v. 17).
The “little hermitage” we need
The best way I know to prepare for future temptations is to spend transforming time with our “deliverer” today. Henri Nouwen advises: “Try to keep a little hermitage in the center of your being, where you can continue your prayer even during a busy day.
“A simple prayer such as ‘Lord Jesus Christ, Son of the living God, have mercy on me a sinner’ can give you much consolation and strength when you allow it to remain present in your inner hermitage.
“It is the way to let the Spirit of God pray in you.”
Will you “keep a little hermitage in the center of your being” today?
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