Airplanes have always fascinated me. Perhaps this has its roots in the model airplanes my Grandpa, a former naval aviator, built and kept around his house. It might have come from my early reading of books about the Wright Brothers. It is even possible that it grew out of watching James Stewart star as Charles Lindbergh in The Spirit of St. Louis or any number of war pictures I watched as a youth. Or maybe the sheer amazement of watching a large, heavy object overcome the power of gravity always stayed with me. But the account I love the most may be America’s early efforts in exploring the power of the jet engine and pushing its capabilities to the limit. In the time immediately after World War II, they produced jets capable of reaching just below the sound barrier. But even in this term we see the challenge they faced. Flying faster than the speed of sound was considered impossible by some, but all thought of it as a real barrier—a physical blockade preventing anyone from passing. However, on October 14, 1947, Chuck Yeager broke the sound barrier in the Bell X-1 and forever changed the world of aviation. Having proven the people’s prior assumptions about the sound barrier, design changes quickly made it possible for planes to fly many times faster than the speed of sound.
Not unsurprisingly, we often create artificial barriers to our own forgiveness, spiritual growth, blessings, faithfulness, happiness, and even greatness because we do not really trust God to do what He said He will do. And the reality is: so many people have played games with what God said in His Word that they have created a barrier for the real peace only God can provide. In Psalm 71 the psalmist combines a variety of problems that we can allow to keep us from trusting God: shame, doubt, failing strength, troubles, old age. You will note that all of these refer to human weakness, but when we look at God through the lens of these weaknesses it can cause us to see God as weak. And here the psalmist provides three metaphors to counter such foolishness: “Be my strong refuge, To which I may resort continually; You have given the commandment to save me, For You are my rock and my fortress” (Psa. 71:3). God is our refuge. God is our rock. God is our fortress. God is the one place we can go for safety when we think all hope is gone. God provides a place of safety in the midst of a world of unruliness and unrest. God can put us in a position of strength and protect us from the advancement of any and every foe.
We can place ourselves in a very foolish position sometimes because we act like we are the strong ones and God needs our help. But it is only when we realize how helpless we are in our sin and even in life, and then see how strong God is and how willing He is to help, that we are ready to trust Him with our hearts, with our lives, and with our souls. How sad that we—the creation—would have trouble handing ourselves over to the One who made us, treating the omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God as if HE is the one suffering from so many limitations. However, when we stop arguing with God and start trusting God, then and only then, will we realize the depth of blessings and care He is capable of bestowing. Worldly people concerned about worldly things think of God in worldly terms, and so they limit what God could do for them. But when we see the world in spiritual terms, embrace spiritual things, and appreciate God for what He can offer us spiritually in eternity, we realize how small the world has tried to make God and how big He truly is. “My mouth shall tell of Your righteousness And Your salvation all the day, For I do not know their limits” (Psa. 71:15).