The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter;

he utters his voice, the earth melts.

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Come, behold the works of the Lord;

see what desolations he has brought on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

he breaks the bow, and shatters the spear;

he burns the shields with fire.

“Be still, and know that I am God!

I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth.”

The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.

Psalm 46:6-11

Psalms bring together images that don’t usually travel in the same circles. In this case, God bringing desolation to the earth and God making wars cease. Melting earth and broken bow, both changing reality in unimaginable ways. Be Still and shattered spear, exaltation and burnt shields. God is with us, God is our refuge – the very God who guided Jacob from his trickster days to being Israel.

What would this world look like if everyone called it even, dropped their deadly toys and went home? Diplomacy would be the only way to get things done. Peace takes a lot more work and time, friendly relations a lot more flexibility and respect. Everyone would have to play by the rules…eventually.

In a way, I think that would be a desolation of the earth. A reversal of how power is exercised on a global scale destroys the violent reality that justifies and even encourages war. This isn’t just taking away the weapons: this is destroying the acceptance of pervasive violence as a way to live as a country, culture, and species.

How does such Godly, war-ending desolation begin? I guess it depends on the starting point. It takes such courage and faith to stop shooting arrows and hiding behind shields, and no one can do it alone. It takes reacting not in fear but in trust and hope – something I can’t do on my own. I guess that’s why I read the Psalms. When I am scared to death they assure me that…

God is our refuge and strength,a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,

though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea…

Psalm 46:1-2 (NRSV)

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