I was in second grade (my best guess) when the infamous Cuban guerilla known worldwide simply as Ché walked off the DC-3 that came weekly to our little Bolivian town with his suitcase in hand. Over a short period of time he gathered around himself a contingent of revolutionaries, followers conned into believing the democratic republic of Bolivia would work better if it was ruled by the people under a communist system. (What he didn’t tell them was that when power changed, it would not be they but an elite team chosen by Cuba’s Fidel Castro and his “bosses” in the Soviet Union that would indeed be in power and in the name of communism suck the people dry of all their productivity and national identity. OK, so you get my slant, but look at the former Soviet Union and China and North Korea and Cuba to see just how free the people are.) I don’t remember if we were just sent home from school or if Dad came to school to get us that particular day the FAB (Fuersa Aerea Boliviana – Bolivian Air Force) decide it was time to flush Ché and his minions from the mid-altitude forests. I do remember the next few terrifying hours. Dad had us stand with our backs to the wall, but not just any ordinary wall. It was the wall that separated our worship sanctuary from our living room (and the church fellowship hall). The wall was compacted earth three feet thick and ten feet high and probably the safest place to stand, our backs toward the air strip we called our airport, our backs toward the hiding rebels, our backs toward the strafing shots fired from the back of the wings of P-51 Mustangs flown by the FAB’s best pilots. So was I introduced to governments and the struggles within governments and the desires of men to be in control.
It was indeed many years later, and I have no way of knowing how many years later it was, that I first and many times since then have been taken to the words written by Paul to the Christians in Rome, a Rome where soon they would be fodder for gladiators and lions and tigers and bears (yes, please resist the “oh, my”), a Rome where soon their impaled and crucified bodies would line the highways into the city, a Rome where they would burn, human torches to light the Caesar’s feasts.
I don’t pretend to understand how it is, or why, that God allows the rise and fall of governments both good and bad, of rulers both benevolent and evil. What I do know is that God’s unchanging, fully reliable, infallibly true Word speaks to us His providence and His ultimate and perfect rule over the nations of the earth. I do know that “there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God.” I certainly don’t always, and maybe in our days (are we close to the last days) almost never, like what passes for the authority in government. And, once again I must be shoved into my place and acknowledge once again that I am but creature, and bow once again before the authority of the One who created all things, the One who redeems all things by grace through faith, the One who alone is God.