Poor Uncle Billy. It's a wonderful life in the Christmas classic movie - until Uncle Billy can't explain to the bank examiners what happened to $100,000 in cash. That he misplaced.
Who can forget the panicky run on the Bedford Falls Bank. Fortunately, just a movie.
Not just a movie this past week in Silicon Valley. The failure of the sixteenth largest bank in the country sent shock waves through the system from coast to coast. And triggered a case of financial jitters that sent people, not on a run on the bank, but a run for some antacid.
Like so many disrupters recently - soaring prices, a pandemic, supply chain breakdowns, weird weather - it again put quotation marks around the word "security."
With banking stories on every newscast, I remembered a Great Depression story I heard from a friend. A scene his dad never forgot from his boyhood, on a day when banks were shuttered across the country.
A man outside his bank, literally beating his hands bloody on the bars in front of the bank doors and windows. Desperately yelling again and again, "Give me my money! Give me my money!"
His security had been in that building. But beating on the bars wouldn't bring it back.
Now thankfully we have many more safeguards in place since those days, and there are credible reasons to hope a crisis is containable.
But the question raised by the relentless shocks of our time remains: "Where is my security?"
After those dark days of institutional collapse in 2008, a well-placed Wall Street acquaintance said, "Ron, I know what us Jesus guys on the Street would have said if you had asked us where our trust was. We'd have told you, 'Oh, our trust is in the Lord.' Until that day in 2008 when what we really trusted in was suddenly gone."
In the words of iconic devotional author, Oswald Chambers: "It is when a crisis arises that we instantly reveal upon whom we rely."
Upheavals - financial, political, medical, marital, parental - expose the unsettling inadequacy of our life anchors. From our bank account to our education, from our relationships to our plans.
Airline baggage handlers put a sticker on breakable cargo - it's a picture of a champagne glass with the word "fragile." We could put that word on so many things we call "security."
Personally, I've found the ancient wisdom of the Bible offers us some transcendent insight on what is bedrock we can build a life on.
For example, Scripture asks this amazingly relevant question: "When the foundations are being destroyed, what can the righteous do?" The answer almost doesn't sound like an answer - until it does. "The Lord is in His holy temple; the Lord is on His heavenly throne" (Psalm 11:3-4).
The world is shaking. God isn't. Things fly beyond our control. Never beyond His.
So if my faith, my hope is in an all-powerful God and His never-let-go love for me, I have a "safe room" that will still be standing when the storm may have blown away everything else. For "the Lord sits enthroned over the flood; the Lord is enthroned as King forever. The Lord gives strength to His people; the Lord blesses His people with peace" (Psalm 29:11).
I have lived that peace when my world was falling apart. When my Karen, the love of my life, was suddenly gone. Grieving? Oh yes. Devastated? For sure. But lost? No. I could not hold my honey's hand now. But God's hand was holding mine and has never let go.
Jesus said, "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you" (Hebrews 13:5). That promise is backed by the price He paid for me to be able to have a personal relationship with Him. That price was paid on Good Friday when "He carried our sins in His body on the tree" (1 Peter 2:24). It's at that cross that He wrote "forgiven" over every sin of my life. And "eternal life" over the eternal death penalty for a lifetime of hijacking my life from Him.
So, "nothing can ever separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord" (Romans 8:39).
I was with a banker friend of mine the week of the great bankquake. I said, "I'm so glad my investments are forever safe and secure." He was obviously waiting for some clarification.
Jesus told us, "Don't store up treasures here on earth, where moths eat them and rust destroys them and where thieves break in and steal. Store your treasures in heaven..." (Matthew 6:19). Investments in Eternity, Inc. are protected by FDIG - "Father's Deposit Insurance Guarantee." Investments like God's work on earth... lost and needy lives... things that will matter in heaven.
A stormproof love relationship with Almighty God. An invested life, living for what will last forever.
Now that's security you can bank on.