"Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God" (Romans 13:1). This is one of those verses that can be much debated about and difficult to understand, especially in the corrupt world in which we leave in, where much of the corruption stems from governing authorities. We might ask the question, "Paul, what are you saying here...how can I obey or be subject to those lying scoundrels?"
Well, Paul actually makes things very clear. First of all, ALL authority comes from God. Secondly, those who are in authority that we might view as ”lying scoundrels" exist because they have been appointed by God. That raises another question directed to the Lord. "God, why in the world would you appoint a guy like Nero [who was ruling while Paul penned this letter) or, "How does a maniac like Hitler get placed into power?"
I know, it seems crazy doesn't it? And at times, impossible to believe. However, if we believe and trust God and His word, then there is an exact plan and reason our Lord divinely inspired this verse! Rather then being angry or frustrated or letting it confuse us, we must pray through it, meditate on it and seek the Lord and His heart behind it. We must trust that our God knows exactly what He is doing and we must surrender to that.
Paul said, "Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ" (1 Cor 11:1). Do you ever read about Paul bad mouthing and rebelling against Nero? No, and that's because he sought to imitate Christ. Do you ever read about Jesus bad mouthing or rebelling against Pilate?
“Remember your Savior suffered under Pontius Pilate, one of the worst Roman governors Judea ever had; and Paul under Nero, the worst Roman Emperor. And neither our Lord nor His apostle denied or reviled the 'authority!'" (Newell)
I share these thoughts with you because I have had to apply them greatly this past week. It all started last Tuesday, as I sat in the office of the new president (mayor) of Bachiniva. He came into office in January after a much heated, corrupt and very intense election.
We are preparing to start a big project of building a security fence around the orphanage. It's a huge undertaking that will cost a lot of money and Pastor Luis has been talking with the government to see if they will help donate or discount sacks of cement.
I drafted up a letter with the official request and we (Nieves, Ayantu and little Luis and myself) went to drop it off at the office. I was surprised to see the president there, and even more surprised when he invited all of us into his office. Of all the days to bring some kids while you're running errands, I choose this day. Things were a little rough at first and Antu and Luis were putting their feet and bodies all over the Presidents nice couches, however they calmed down and actually did great.
So, as we sat there, for probably 10 mins or so, we were able to talk about our children’s home, the ministry and some of our needs. He was aware there was an orphanage in his town, but didn't know much about it. He was very polite, listened intently, and ended the conversation letting us know that they would help us.
From there we headed over to the DIF and met the new director and her assistant. They too came into office in January. Having heard a lot about the children's home, they were excited to finally meet us and told us how much they wanted to help. I must say it was a breath of fresh air, but again I was a little skeptical. As I've shared with you before, there are a lot of "words" but not a lot of "action". Communication is not good down here and it can be very frustrating. However it appears that this administration is different and they back up their words with actions. Already they have built a new sanitary dump, repaired roads and built a beautiful new park. And now, they were committing themselves to coming alongside our children's home and helping wherever and whenever they can. Praise The Lord, from the meeting we left with soccer balls for the kids and new playground equipment. Well, not new :"new," it's actually from a school that closed down, but, new to us because it's something we needed and had been praying for!
After this excited day, we had some more visitors from the government, but this time it was the director of police and one of his body guards. Jackie actually met him when picking up Ayantu and Sandra from school. He was asking all kinds of questions like who she was, what we were doing here and about the children’s home. Then, the next day he shows up at the children's home. It also happened to be when I wasn’t there. Now, the way things work in Bachiniva (which some would say is the biggest hub for a drug cartel), is those in authoritative positions have either been placed there by the drug cartel, or simply, submit to their authority. Some say that the director of police is the cartel leaders right hand man.
Anyway, when you hear something like that, and especially when you’re not there, if unnerves you a little. You don't want these kind of people on your property and you definitely don't want to submit to them. However, they were very interested in the children’s home, wanted to know if we needed help OR if they can bring children to our home if needed.
So, definitely an interesting week full of government and police officials, who fall into the very thing that Paul is talking about in Romans. Brothers and sisters, be encouraged this day, as I have been, that God is in control and knows every detail or everything that is taking place, past, present AND future. Just this morning I read this in Job…
“Who among all these does not know that the hand of the Lord has done this, in whose hand is the life of every living thing, and the breath of all mankind” (Job 12:9-10).
No matter what you're going through, difficulty you might be having understanding the scriptures, or wondering how God works, or wanting to rebel against those higher then you, may you rest today. Know that you are held in your Maker’s Hand!