Thursday, July 23, 2009

Worst Case Scenario

QIb vo' Hegh
Shadow of death

podcast version

Murphy's law spells out the pessimist's creed: if something can go wrong, it will. Some find an odd comfort in this "expect the worst" philosophy. With it, you'll never be disappointed - the worst that can happen is that you will be happily surprised if things turn out okay.

But I think merely expecting the worst isn't going far enough. Better is doing what David works through in Psalm 23 - the worst case scenario and how to be ready for it.

David looks to the good Shepherd, not merely to solve temporal problems like food and drink, guidance and safety. Whatever good the Lord provides for this life, David does not expect it to forestall the absolute worst:

The QIb vo' Hegh, the shadow of death

The Klingon words QIb (shadow) and Hegh (death) are used here for the Hebrew term tsalmaveth, traditionally rendered "the shadow of death," a phrase that captures just how this dark cloud hangs over all of us. The Bible says it simply " is appointed for men to die..." (Hebrews 9:27) Yet the response here in Psalm 23 is not despair, but confidence that this final passage is not to be feared, if we are accompanied by this shepherd who truly walks alongside us.

Notice that in this verse something important changes. The previous verses speak about the shepherd - he does this, he does that. But in this verse David speaks directly to him:

I will fear no evil, for you are with me.

Death's QIb, its shadow, looms over all of us - no exceptions. In reviewing our options, our plans, this is what we must all be prepared for. Medicine, wealth, or position will not keep us from it. There is no castle or protection that will ultimately keep it away.

But we do not have to enter that last frontier alone. If we go with the one who has gone through it himself, we need fear no evil. For with the one who has conquered death by our side, that path through the shadows can, and will, be the path to victory.

originally podcast 4/7/05

Thursday, July 02, 2009

On Board!

vaD Daj pong chIch
for his name's sake

podcast version

Thanks to NASA, last year I went to Mars! Not just me - I took the whole family, even my dog Kokomo! We also went along on a mission to bring back samples from a comet, and at this moment, we're en route to blast a piece off of another comet in July.

Now, full disclosure requires I tell you that in fact, we didn't pack bags and climb on board these ships. Our travels were in name only, that is each of these spacecraft carried our names, not our selves, into the heavens. Why did NASA collect our names (and the names of thousands of other space enthusiasts) for these voyages? Because, when our names were added to these ships, in some small way, we became a part of the mission, and our interest in it increased tremendously.

David tells us that God "leads us in paths of righteousness," vaD Daj pong chIch / for his name's sake. The Klingon word for name, pong is as simple a word as you can find, just as it is in the Hebrew word (shem). Name, pong, or shem it means simply - the title by which any person or thing is known or designated.

What does it mean to say that God leads us, for his name's sake? I think about the interest that I have, when my name is riding off to Mars, and I get a glimmer of what this means: my attention, my concentration is directed to what is happening out there. I'm rooting for that craft, cheering it on. I may have no power to assist it, but I care about what happens to it.

Can you imagine that God, having put his name on you would care any less? Nor is he powerless to come alongside and help you, watch over you, as you navigate your own voyage through life.

Feeling like a nobody? Feeling like you aren't good enough to be noticed? Think again. He's put his name on you - and he's going to see you through. Look at the promises of Psalm 23, the promises of the Bible, and you can see he's on your side - he's on board, so to speak, and he'll do much more than just cheer you on.

Originally podcast 4/1/2005