The train pulled into Amsterdam much later than we had anticipated, too late to change any of our money into Dutch currency. (This was back in the days before the Euro when you had to change your currency every time you went into a new country.) The four of us had a Eur-Rail pass that provided unlimited train travel throughout the continent and so we would stay a few days in one place then hop on a train and visit another country.
We were too late to stay at the Youth Hostel which had closed its doors for the night. And so we wandered the streets of Amsterdam, thinking maybe we could find a park to sleep in. We ended up outside the locked entrance to a park. We decided to take our chances and roll out our sleeping bags for a while. When one member of our group mentioned that she had felt someone touch her and that someone was watching us, we decided to pack up and head back to the train station. We waited outside the station until it opened then hopped on the first train out of there.
What had we been thinking!!! Clearly, we had not been thinking, just one of many such adventures as I backpacked through Europe the summer between my sophomore and junior year of college. To this day I think, “If God hadn’t been with us, watching over us . . . If not for God, where would I be?” It seems God was looking out for me, foolish as I was.
Such are the sentiments of the writer of Psalm 124, a song of thanksgiving to God who saved them from dire situations. “If it had not been the Lord who was on our side, let Israel say,” the psalm begins. Then dangerous situations are listed, “Then they would have swallowed us up alive, when their anger was kindled against us; then the flood would have swept us away, the torrent would have gone over us.” (3-4) God did not give them over as prey, “We have escaped as a bird from the snare of the fowlers; the snare is broken, and we have escaped!” (7)
The psalm ends with a statement of trust in God, “Our help is in the name of the Lord, who made heaven and earth.” (8)
This psalm is among the songs of ascent, used by pilgrims as they enter the Temple after their long journey. Travel can be hazardous under the best of circumstances, even more so for pilgrims during that time. They didn’t have any of the modern modes of transportation that we take for granted today. They could easily have been attacked by robbers along the way. But thanks to God, they made their way safely to Jerusalem, just as the Hebrew people escaped from Egypt, avoiding the flood of the Red Sea which swallowed the Egyptians, escaping danger in the desert until reaching the Promised Land. If God had not been on their side, how would they have made it that far?
If not for God, where would our world be? Certainly, it is the hand of God that has kept us from nuclear annihilation all of these years. I hate to think of a world without God.
Chances are, each of us have had experiences in our life where we have walked through danger, knowing God was at our side. If not for God, where would any of us be?
Have you had experiences of danger that God led you through? I would love to hear them!