March 8, 2010
A telemarketer called a home one day, and a small voice whispered, “Hello?” “Hello!” the salesman said. “What’s your name?” Still whispering, the voice said, “Jimmy.” “How old are you, Jimmy?” “I’m four.” “Good, is your mother home?” “Yes, but she’s busy.” “Okay, is your father home?” “He’s busy, too.” “I see; who else is there?” “The police.” “The police? May I speak with one of them?” “They’re busy.” “Any other grownups there?” “The firemen.” “May I speak with a fireman, please?” “They’re all busy.” “Jimmy, all those people in your house, and I can’t talk with any of them? What are they doing?” “Looking for me,” whispered Jimmy.
We can laugh at Jimmy’s antics, but the story points to a truth about our human condition. It is our nature to run away when life gets tough. King David was advised by friends during a difficult time in his life to run away. They said to him, “flee like a bird to your mountain.”
I gathered my family in the living room last Sunday night and we all took turns answering these questions: What is “my mountain?” Where have I learned to run when life is hard? Or boring? The answers varied from “into myself, into silence,” to “something sweet to eat,” to “some form of media: TV, iPod, computer.”
The truth is, all of us have a mountain or two that we fly to. The question is, why do we go to the places where we regularly end up? I know watching television and movies take a lot of heat but it’s because those are favorite places to hide and to vegetate for so many. Would you say you watch TV because, “I don’t have to think or communicate or deal with the problems in my world, and for those two hours I can lose myself in being entertained”? If so, consider that the drug addict could say the same. “Why do you use that drug, Mr. Addict?” “Because for those two hours, I don’t have to think, I don’t have to communicate, I don’t have to deal with my problems. I can just float away to my own little world.”
Both people, the TV addict and the drug user, are running away. Which mountain do you run away to? We can flee to the mountain of food, or sleep, or exercise, or pornography, or sports, or Facebook. (For the record, none of those except pornography is bad in itself). If we understand that it is the nature of all flesh to flee, to run away, then the question is not, “Do I do it?” but “Where do I go, and why?”
King David had learned in his life, even from his youth, that God was enough. He had seen God deliver him from the paw of the lion and the mouth of the bear. He had seen God deliver him from the giant and from the armies of those who hated Israel. Time and again, God had been his refuge and his strength. So when his friends told him to flee to the mountain, David did just that. But not to the mountain suggested by his “friends.” David may have responded with the words of this old song: “I go to the Rock of my Salvation, I go to the Stone that the builders rejected, I run to the mountain and the mountain stands by me. When the earth all around me is sinking sand, on Christ, the solid rock I stand; when I need a shelter, when I need a friend, I go to the rock.”