The view from Vienna
The history of mankind could almost be written in terms of civilizations struggling against societies with no serious ethical standards — societies relying on brute force.
I have been in Europe since May 16. I came here because I feel called by God to work with the wonderful people at the Danube Church of Christ, a church plant of my home congregation in Oklahoma City.
“For in the day of trouble he will keep me safe in his dwelling; he will hide me in the shelter of his sacred tent and set me high upon a rock.”
— Psalm 27:5
The church is under the leadership of four men and has a permanent meeting place, centrally located. Several Americans I know and love are a part of this work. After visiting last year, I asked the leaders if I could work with them for the summer months as long as my health allows.
Earlier this year, after terrorist attacks in Belgium, several friends asked me if I still intended to travel to Europe. I reminded them that we live in a metropolitan area where an act of terrorism took innocent lives on U.S. soil — the 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building.
Of course I am disturbed by the terrible news from Nice, France, not very far from here. However, I am no more disturbed in Vienna than I would be at home.
Living with dangers and threats is nothing new. I lived in coastal California during World War II, where Japanese subs and dirigibles were often spotted. After that came the Korean War, Vietnam, wars in Iraq, Afghanistan. We have all seen loved ones go off to war and face horrors beyond our comprehension.
David, one of God’s most faithful, spent much of his life running from King Saul — and, at the end of his life, escaping from his own sons.
Yet David’s psalms offer some of the greatest comfort in troublesome times like these.
Psalm 8 is a powerful reminder that everything is in God’s power: “When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor.”
In Psalm 29, David declares that “the Lord is my Rock” and concludes with this song: “The Lord is my strength and my shield; my heart trusts in him and I am helped. … The Lord is the strength of his people, a fortress of salvation for his anointed one. Save your people and bless your inheritance; be their shepherd and carry them forever.”
The apostle Paul became the enemy of the Jewish leaders because God had sent him to teach the Gentiles and bring them into his Kingdom. In every city of Galatia, Paul first went to the Jewish synagogue to teach the message of Jesus. Then he went to the Gentiles.
He followed the same pattern when he answered the Macedonian call and came to Europe.
Later he encouraged the Philippian church by stating his priorities: “For me to live is Christ and to die is gain.” Later he declares, “And my God will meet all your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus.”
The world is a more fearful place than I want it to be for any of us.
I confess my concern for family, but I believe “God is able” to do much more than we can ask or imagine. He lives and cares.
Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.— Psalm 27:14
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