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I Am Not Dust

by Tim O'Hearn

Recently the “9/11 Commission” came out with their report on the terror attacks on the United States a few years ago. Among other things, the commission says that this country is not prepared to prevent another major terrorist attack. This has the legislature of the country so concerned that they are giving up part of what would normally be their summer vacation to consider some of the things in this report, and to try to fix some of the potential loopholes in security. In general, the level of fear in the United States is at its highest since the early 1960’s. Granted, we have not yet started building bomb shelters and stockpiling canned goods (although that did happen for a short while after the initial scare). We don’t have cities building schools underground, as did Artesia, New Mexico, forty years ago. So far, I haven’t heard of schools holding “drop and cover” drills as occurred when I was young. Granted, too, that we are not fearful of atomic bomb attacks as we were then. But the general level of fear is high.

In Eretz Israel (the land of Israel), the first and last people off the bus for school outings are armed guards. A wall has been built (illegally, according to the World Court) to protect Israeli settlements from potential attack by Palestinian terrorists. Some Palestinian settlements are grateful for the wall, because they fear attack by Israeli terrorists. Tourists are fearful to travel by rental car because they don’t know when they might accidentally cross into a dangerous neighborhood.

After centuries of hostility, there is no end in sight to “the troubles” in the northern counties of the island of Ireland. (Yes, that was worded very carefully so as not to make it too obvious which side I support.) My younger brother once said, “There have been fewer deaths in ten years of fighting over here than one year on the streets of Detroit; I’m safer over here than” at the University of Michigan. Yet there are still neighborhoods near his home in Belfast that he must avoid at certain times of the year.

I could continue documenting civil, ethnic, or religious unrest in countries like the Philippines, Russia, Indonesia, Nigeria, and who knows how many other countries. But I think the point has been made. This world is full of fear. Countries battle other countries. Races battle other races. Religions battle other religions (or even their own). It is not safe in this world.

God’s chosen people, however, should not be among the worriers. No matter what happens in Israel, or elsewhere, they should know that there is no nation that can stand, or fall, without the consent of Melech ha Olam, the King of the Universe. What were the twin towers to God? A speck of dust? No, not even a speck of dust. The prophet Isaiah says, “Behold, the nations are as a drop of a bucket, and are counted as the small dust of the balance.” (Isa 40:15) If the nations, themselves, are as insignificant as the dust you don’t even bother to clean from a scale because it won’t change the weight, then how much less are two buildings in a town in a nation? That would seem to make us people, in Billy Bigelow’s words, “a couple a specks o’ nothin’.” And yet it is not true that “we don’t count at all.”

Although in size we must seem as the Whos to Horton, God cares for us. We could consider ourselves as less than an atom in a drop in the bucket, but God holds us in higher regard. “What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour.” (Ps 8:4-5) Although the nations are insignificant dust, people are of great importance.

God took a shepherd—a foreigner in Midian—and made him the greatest leader the world has ever known. He turned a shepherd boy into a king. He made the son of an idolater into the “father of many nations.” If he can raise up a Moses, a David, an Abraham from nothing, why should I fear some faceless terrorist? The God of Abraham and Moses and David is my God. Whom do I need fear? If he crowns me with glory and honor, who can take it from me? They can take my life, but they can’t take me.