God Has Your Back
“What you said is, ‘God’s got our back,’” I told the preacher when I walked out the door after a service at
St. John’s Cathedral in Denver a few years back. It was a good sermon: and I was reminded of it again
last Sunday when Mollie, the new intern at Mount Olive, where I’ve been worshipping in Minneapolis,
made the same point with an entirely different set of images – from rock climbing and learning to trust
the person who was managing her ropes! It also hit home in a different way, for different set of reasons:
the move from Colorado to Minneapolis has been much more difficult, more stressful, than the move ten
years ago from Delaware to Colorado – at least as I remember that move! And the fact that I’m almost ten
years older than I was then couldn’t possibly have anything to do with it, now, could it (cough, cough).
Sunday’s sermon focused on God’s call of Abraham and Sarah, and of God’s promise to them of heirs as
numerous as the stars in the sky and the sands underfoot, and focused as well on the “cloud of witnesses”
that the “wandering people of God” looked to for encouragement.
But I found myself thinking of the many people who have been a source of wisdom and encouragement
and support since I made the decision to pack and leave the place that had been my home – not just for the
last decade, but really, the last 40 years. A nephew and his family have opened their home to me in this
transitional time; my larger family – brother, sister, nephews and nieces – have been wonderful sources of
support in other ways; friends have offered ears and counsel when I’ve needed to vent frustration. Friends
in Yuma were like family when I needed help to pack and sort – and sometimes throw away! Others
simply ask and encourage, even when too far away to help in other ways.
Some of you know the drill: “It takes a village,” even when one moves from one community to another.
One learns that so many people “have your back” in so many ways! And each serves to make it the
clearer that “God has your back … so don’t kid yourself, and just wallow in self-pity!”
Then I thought of how many people don’t have the support that I have. I’m thinking of those who need a
lift to get to the doctor, or to the grocery store … or to church. Or to the St. Stephen’s food pantry. God
has their back, too: but it’s not always as evident at first that God does. And then it is incumbent on those
of us who are able to make it clear that God has … well, that God has, to shift the metaphor, “the whole
world in God’s hands.” I think that there’s a “global pandemic” of need for us to show so many folks that
“God has their back.” A week ago Mount Olive welcomed an Afghan family into the metropolitan
community in Minnesota: a welcome that included chocolate birthday cakes, because a number of the
family had August birthdays! Sweet: yes?
Well, a cynic might say, “The Ukraine is fleeing their homes under fire from the Russians, and we feel
virtuous because we offer cake to Afghan refugees who have landed in Minneapolis?” Well, it might be
time for us to remember that the Jewish rabbis taught us that, when we save one life, we have saved the
world. Remember that whenever anyone suggests that it is futile for St. Stephen’s to maintain the food
pantry, and then continue to do what you can to let folks with a need know that “God has your back.”
Because once in a while, even those with ever so many reasons to know that God does indeed have our
back, need a reminder.
The Rev. Allen Heggen