When I was in college, the city I was living in was hit by a powerful earthquake. And I was sitting on the toilet.
As I sat there, I thought, “This isn’t where I want to be when I die.” And thankfully, it wasn’t.
Over the next week, we had dozens of aftershocks. And each one sent a rush of fear through my body. Would this be The Big One? It was such an unsettling and insecure feeling, because you simply can’t do anything about an earthquake. Sure, you can get into a safer place. But there’s not a single thing you can do about the earth moving underneath you.
As each aftershock hit, I was reminded that I have no real control over my life.
Insecurity is a feeling that arises in us when we’re in situations where we feel helpless to secure our lives.
We may feel insecure about our abilities to speak or sing in public, because we can’t control how others respond to us. We may feel insecure about being seen in our bathing suits, about applying for a job, about submitting a proposal at work, about how a gift will be received, about how we’ll compete in a race … about anything we’re not in complete control of.
The reason why we’re all insecure is because, well, we’re not secure. We simply don’t have what it takes to secure our lives, to control the outcome of our circumstances.
None of us has enough knowledge about what’s really going on in the world around us to secure our lives. None of us has enough power to control what’s going on in order to secure our lives. In other words, none of us is God, the only one who is all-knowing and all-powerful and therefore truly secure and in control.
Gaining a bit more knowledge is helpful. And so, too, is gaining a bit more power. Both are helpful, but neither secure us. And seeking either for the sake of security always falls short of that goal.
So, what are we to do?
When we can’t do something for ourselves, it’s generally best to find someone else who can.
The only one who has enough knowledge to secure our lives is God. And the only one who has enough power to secure our lives is God. He’s got what it takes. But not every God out there is interested in sharing his knowledge and power with us. But Jesus shows that he is interested enough and loving enough to do so by going to the trouble of entering into the world on our behalf and then dying on our behalf. And then he did something equally amazing: He gave us his Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is both the mind of God and the power of God taking up residence within those who say Yes to God in Jesus.
As the mind of God, the Spirit offers us everything we need to know for our lives, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. As the power of God, the Spirit offers us all of the power we need for our lives, even if it doesn’t feel like it at the time. This doesn’t make us all-knowing and all-powerful ourselves, but we do have access to the mind and power of God necessary for his purposes in our lives.
That old saying, “Let go and let God,” has been poorly used. But it applies here.
When we let go of our attempts to secure our lives — to make ourselves feel secure when we know we can’t actually secure ourselves — and we let God do what he’s going to do in our moments of seeming helplessness, then we can rest in the security of God’s vast knowledge and power on our behalf. If it’s true that God loves us and has proved that to us in Jesus, then the circumstances we face may not go our way and yet we can know that God’s good purposes will still be accomplished in us.
We are still secure, because we are securely in God’s hands and God’s heart.
The sons of Korah, who wrote Psalm 46, knew this. That beautiful psalm starts out with a declaration of security in the midst of great insecurity:
God is our refuge and strength,
an ever-present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea,
though its waters roar and foam
and the mountains quake with their surging. [Psalm 46:1-3]
Like my earthquake experience, the psalmists know that God is ever-present in trouble, an always-refuge, an always-strength.
Because of this, even in the midst of shaking going on around them, they are able to be still themselves.
He says, “Be still, and know that I am God …” [Psalm 46:10]
And then the sons of Korah conclude with the words that are also at the very center of the psalm:
The Lord Almighty is with us;
the God of Jacob is our fortress. [Psalm 64:7,11]
If God is with us, our fears can subside. As insecure as we may feel, we know ourselves to be truly secure. The Lord all-mighty is with us. In a world that attempts to secure itself and always fails, this is real security.