While listening to some music in my car the other day, the following lines from the song “Stand By Me” caught my ear:
If the sky that we look upon
Should tumble and fall
And the mountains should crumble to the sea
I won’t cry, I won’t cry, no I won’t shed a tear
Just as long as you stand, stand by me
Further research suggests that this song had roots in a previously-written spiritual song1, with references that seem to be from Psalm 46. Then the Biblical connections continue, as the book of Revelation talks (whether literally or figuratively) about this very sort of event:
I watched as the Lamb broke the sixth seal, and there was a great earthquake. The sun became as dark as black cloth, and the moon became as red as blood. Then the stars of the sky fell to the earth like green figs falling from a tree shaken by a strong wind.
Revelation 6:12-13 NLT
(See also Revelation 16:20.)
God shapes and reshapes a lot of things. In addition to the beginning of time, when God shaped the earth in the first place, this passage from Revelation isn’t the only time God tells us about His reshaping the earth: The great flood of Noah’s time destroyed the world, and we can observe the impact of that “reshaping” event even today. For all of the best efforts of civil engineers, and even science fiction writers, the best “terraforming” that we can achieve today is just a minute sliver of what God has already accomplished.
It makes me wonder, though: When we are in a cataclysmic situation, who do we want standing by us?
- We could find strength in family or friends. That isn’t inherently bad, but they are only human. If lightning bridges the earth and the sky or volcanoes erupt, other people are no more able to stop these forces of the earth than we are.
- We could look for superheroes. My kids would probably cite those of comic-book legend, but we adults bring forth our own empowered rescuers from our imagination. That might make for a good movie, but fiction doesn’t save us in the real world.
- We could try to save ourselves. Like actually pulling yourself up by your own bootstraps (if anyone still has bootstraps), though, we are limited by our own capabilities and strength.
To be sure, God has placed many things around us to help get us through difficult times. Family and friends (especially those who are part of the Body of Christ, the church) can mirror the community and relationships that God designed, and God often provides us with skills and wisdom to get ourselves through challenges.
However, there are also times when no amount of human intervention can resolve a problem. When the sky and mountains fall (for real) some day, there’s nothing that scientists and engineers will be able do to prop them back up.
In situations like that, we must turn to a power greater than ourselves. Only God, with the sovereignty and control over what He has created, has the ability to intervene in ways that exceed the capabilities of His creation. If He decides to move a mountain into the sea, at the request of one of His adopted children (us!), He can easily do so (see Mark 11:22-25, Matthew 21:21-22).
God’s transformative power, though, isn’t only limited to the natural world.
For all of our medical and scientific findings (which I appreciate), we can – at best – prolong our mortal lives and stave off the death of the body. Even with the most modern technology, none of this can rescue us from the death of our souls: the separation from God that is caused by our sin. Despite our limitations, when God decided to rescue lost people, He defeated the power that death had over us in the spiritual realm (see 1 Corinthians 15:54-57), and proved it by raising Jesus (God the Son) from the dead.
Furthermore, God can transform our lives “in place”. It might be as difficult as moving mountains, or defeating death, but God can fundamentally overhaul the heart of someone who allows Him to do so.
This means that anyone who belongs to Christ has become a new person. The old life is gone; a new life has begun!
2 Corinthians 5:17 NLT
(see also Galatians 6:15.)
The difference between the life of a lost person before they meet Jesus Christ, and that same person after letting Jesus re-generate them, can be just as dramatic as mountains being moved, or someone being brought back from being dead after days in a tomb. Furthermore, when we observe a changed life in someone who has given their life over to Jesus, this is just the “overflow” that comes out of the heart. Like an iceberg, if we see the “10%” that exudes from a changed life like this, imagine the magnitude of the change that took place internally!
In addition, the God of the universe calls on us to stand with others, too. When we do, we can do so as representatives of Him, and support people in need – both in need of company and in need of help – in Jesus’ name.
So, when you need someone to “stand by you”, look first to the One who can both destroy and re-create the world, and Who transforms the human heart. Then, I ask that you will stand by me, and let me stand by you, as He stands by us.
Scripture quotations marked (NLT) are taken from the Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright ©1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, a Division of Tyndale House Ministries, Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.