Surfboards, Angels, and Prayer

              No one asks a surfboard for surfing lessons. While the imagination chuckles to entertain such a notion, no asks of inanimate objects what can only be done by flesh and blood. Yet, when it comes to prayer and spiritual needs, we quickly turn to creation for answers.

              In Psalm 18 our psalmist deals with a rather pertinent issue, death. In vivid language the psalmist symbolically compares death to vines entangling him as a snare pulling the psalmist down to his death. “The cords of death encompassed me; the torrents of destruction assailed me,” he utters. When confronted with his own mortality, the psalmist thinks of only one source to snap the cord that binds him to hell. “In my distress,” he says, “I called upon the Lord; to my God I cried for help.”

              The psalmists earnest plea does not fall upon deaf ears. God comes swiftly to his aid. I love how the psalmist pictures God’s arrival, “he rode on a cherub and flew; he came swiftly on the wings of the wind.” God swoops in surfing on an angel. From above the mighty crest, the vast waters of the earth “canopy around him” and “the foundations of the world were laid bare.”

              From the position of creature snared by the mighty net of death, the psalmist does not ask nature, fellow Israelites, or angels for help. He doesn’t call on anything which God created. Why? You don’t ask a surfboard for surfing lessons. In the distress of our lives it is natural to want to turn to the familiar first. Nature provids us with many cures for our ills. Even some of us would want to pray to angels or saints for help. While the Christians of the past offer insight for our daily lives, while angels certainly are mighty beings in the Bible, while all of nature can amaze us, still all they encompass is creation.

              God wants us to call on him for help first. “I love you, O Lord, my strength” is the psalmist’s first remark. Prior to his need to call upon God, he recognizes where his help comes from, the Lord. He alone can calm the waves. In your distress and problems that are sure to arise this week, remember God’s creation can be a helpful resource, but all which God created answers to him. Therefore, put your trust and hope in God first.

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