“The LORD is my shepherd, I lack nothing. He makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters, he refreshes my soul. He guides me along the right paths for his name’s sake (Psalm 23:2.3).”
“She packed my bags last night pre-flight
Zero hour nine a.m.
And I’m gonna be high as a kite by then
I miss the earth so much I miss my wife
It’s lonely out in space
On such a timeless flight.”
I am considering such a trip as the one described above by Elton John. In a month or so my wife could help me pack my bags and I could be off.
As things stand today, I could very well be on a plane to a new job overseas. My family won’t be with me. At that point, I might as well be on the moon,
I know it will be lonely. I know I will miss my wife and kids.
At the moment, I need the job, though. I need to provide for my family, at least as I see it.
“And I think it’s gonna be a long long time
Till touch down brings me round again to find
I’m not the man they think I am at home
Oh no no no I’m a rocket man
Rocket man burning out his fuse up here alone.”
It could be a long time until I come home again. My family isn’t happy about me going off on my own, yet I admit part of me longs for the experience.
I am metaphorically a rocket man, too. Crosscultural living and work is what moves my heart.
I get bored with normal living. I guess I have a fatal disease if I am not engaged in it: restlessness.
“Mars ain’t the kind of place to raise your kids
In fact it’s cold as hell
And there’s no one there to raise them if you did
And all this science I don’t understand
It’s just my job five days a week
A rocket man, a rocket man.”
I think my wife and I agree on one thing: where I could go is not the place for our kids. Their lives will be better where we are now, at least we think so from where we sit now.
And it is indeed a far-north, freezing country. It’s cold physically and spiritually.
Furthermore, like the Rocket Man, I will be working with scientists and engineers, whose work I really don’t understand. Hey, but it’s my job, man. I am metaphorically a rocket man.
Frankly, I don’t know what to do. I have the same mixed emotions as the Rocket Man.
What I believe I want to do, which is to go, may not be the best thing in the long run for me either. As the old saying goes, “be careful what you wish for.”
“Ground control to Major Tom
Ground control to Major Tom
Take your protein pills and put your helmet on
Ground control to Major Tom
Commencing countdown, engines on
Check ignition and may God’s love be with you.”
The above lyrics from David Bowie’s song “Space Oddity” describes what I believe my wife’s reaction will be if I decide to go. She is the kind of person who will send me on my way godspeed even if she disagrees with my decision. She’ll do her best to live with the situation and counsel me from afar.
What do I do? I know my heart, as the Scriptures say, is deceitful above all things.
Who can cure it? Who can know it (Jeremiah 17:9). I sure can’t.
I know God doesn’t look favorably upon alliances that are not of his making. He soundly rebuked Israel for considering what seemed to be a perfectly acceptable alliance with Egypt to defend their country against an enemy (Isaiah 30:1).
What made this alliance wrong was that God had instructed Israel not to make such entangling alliances. He wanted Israel to completely trust in Him for deliverance from their woes.
God did intend to bring judgment on Israel. However, even in that predicament, they did not need to fear. He would be present with them:
“People of Zion, who live in Jerusalem, you will weep no more. How gracious he will be when you cry for help! As soon as he hears, he will answer you. Although the Lord gives you the bread of adversity and the water of affliction, your teachers will be hidden no more; with your own eyes you will see them. Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Then you will desecrate your idols overlaid with silver and your images covered with gold; you will throw them away like a menstrual cloth and say to them, “Away with you!” (Isaiah 30:19-22).”
Some alliances are from the devil. The Israelites went after gods of silver and gold. It is possible for me to do the same if money becomes the sole factor in my decisionmaking.
Also, some allies, though seemingly trustworthy, are in the end unreliable. Dr.Claude Mariottini says of Israel’s alliance with Egypt:
Isaiah was against a political alliance with Egypt because he was convinced that human power could not deliver Judah from the Assyrian army any more than Judah could escape the judgment that was coming upon the nation. Isaiah called Judah’s alliance with Egypt, a “covenant with death” (Isaiah 28:18).
Isaiah also knew that Egypt was an unreliable ally. Just as they failed to help during the Ashdod rebellion, they would fail to help again. Isaiah said: “For Egypt’s help is worthless and empty, therefore I have called her, ‘Rahab who sits still’”(Isaiah 30:7 NRSV).
Dr. Mariottini notes that in the Scriptures the mention of Rahab is symbolic. Rahab represents chaos and evil power. Not only will she do nothing, but bring about disaster.
Maybe I will be a rocket man. Maybe I won’t.
Urban legend has it that back in 1964 Mick Jagger had a hankering for something he wanted, but couldn’t get. He went to a soda fountain looking for a cherry coke (far different than today’s) and learned they didn’t have it.
A local man named Mr. Jimmy had some advice for Mick, which the latter used to write a well known lyric:
“I went down to the Chelsea drugstore
To get your prescription filled
I was standing in line with Mr. Jimi
And man, did he look pretty ill
We decided that we would have a soda
My favorite flavor, cherry red
I sung my song to Mr. Jimi
Yeah, and he said one word to me, and that was “dead”
I said to him
You can’t always get what you want, no!
You can’t always get what you want (tell ya baby)
You can’t always get what you want (no)
But if you try sometimes you just might find
You get what you need
Oh yes! Woo!”
Yes, Mr. Jimmy told Mick that you can’t always get what you want. Jagger twised the roles a bit in his lyrics.
Sometimes God makes us do things we don’t want to do. However, it is for our good, whether we like it or not.
A Jewish couple, Don and Norma Honig, say that sometimes we are unwilling to do what God wants of us, even if it is to lie down like sheep. They write:
“We can be sure of this one thing. Whenever the Good Shepherd makes us lie down, there is a blessing for us! And if we submit and trust, we shall be enriched in our spiritual life, and prepared for better service afterward, whatever that might be and wherever that might be.”
At this stage, I feel a little like Major Tom in “Space Oddity”:
“Here am I floating round my tin can
Far above the moon
Planet earth is blue
And theres nothing I can do.”
There’s something God can do, though. Go ahead, God. Make me! (Whatever it is.)