The hurricane warnings are up in the Atlantic and the Caribbean, and all around the world. We learn daily of some of the geo-political, and local, political intrigues and manipulations, and of the huge economic manipulations and strategies. We have learned that due to inflation, the buying power of a dollar today is about 20% of what it was when the Twin Towers fell in 2001. As we watch the world turn, we all constantly wonder about what is going to happen, and when is it going to happen. The “it” is, as we perceive, something huge and serious and harmful. Even as we understand that we are called to share in the sufferings of Christ, as His followers, as we bear the crosses appointed for us, we are still, most of us, apprehensive of what is to come. We see Christianity, and Christians, mocked in our daily lives, in the media and, often, in the market place and sometimes around the dinner table with our extended families. We also see the continuing global anxiety against Christians, and we see it expressed in terms of assaults on religious freedom, under the guise of policing hate speech, and in other ways. In other areas of the world, that anxiety against Christians is expressed more rawly and painfully in the persecutions of beatings, rapes, burnings and thefts, and of deaths – martyrdom. In America we see the continued erosion and assaults on the foundational, Christian principles of our country. And we look to our family in Israel and we see so many powerful world forces manipulating politics and economics and military might, seeking to remove the nation of Israel from the global map on nations. And we have also going on our personal struggles and issues: of illness, of aging, of overcoming our mistakes, of overcoming the woundings and scarrings from events in our life over which we had no control, of rejecting the burdens of nurturing of offences, of walking freely in grace and forgiveness, given and received.
We are in the storm of our lives, and it is time to grasp and keep a steady hand on the tiller of our individual lives, like Joshua and the Israelites of so many years ago, to be strong and courageous in the face of what we see as the world turns. The reality is that there is nothing new under the sun, Ecclesiastes 1:9.
In keeping a steady hand on the tiller, we see and feel and hear the storm-tossed waves around us, the wind howls, the storms thunder and fill the sky with sharp and vivid and dangerous lightning, and our boat – our personal life raft – tosses, turns, pulls and falls, as we manage the sails and use that tiller to hold the boat’s nose up towards the wind, and as, still, the water at times pours over us.
In such circumstances, there are some basic things we need to do to hold onto life, and we need to be reminded of them frequently – a personal safety check, if you will, kind of like the fire drills from school days.
First, are you waring, securely, your PFD, your personal flotation device? That is are you living your life in repentance of sin, in belief in the Name of Jesus Christ, loving the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind, and are you loving your neighbor as yourself? Are you reading the Bible daily, growing in wisdom as the Holy Spirit makes ever more manifest the secrets of the Holy Scripture, the desires and
plans of our Hold Father? These attitudes and commitments will keep your PFD securely fastened to you, so that the storms of this life will not rip that PFD away from you!
Second, are you choosing to live in the fear of God as well as obedience to His commandments, as in Ecclesiastes 12: 13-14, knowing that God will bring each of your works into judgment including every secret thing, whether good or evil?
Third, Do you trust God? Do you trust your creator with such life as you have on this earth, and with your eternal life? Do you trust Him enough to know that He is enough for you, do matter the storm? Can you join daily the chorus of the generations who have shared, and who share, in the confidence and trust of the 23rd Psalm? “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters. He restores my soul; He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His Name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for You are with me; your rod and staff, they comfort me. You prepare a table for me in the presence of mine enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever!”
Fourth, are you aligning the tiller to drive your boat, yourself, if you will, according to God’s plan, in the direction he requires, even if it looks like you are headed for even more trouble in the storm of your life? Most of us, using our brains and experience, are always looking for a way that seems right to us to solve our problems and to escape the risk of the storm. But, as we are reminded in Proverbs 14: 12, “There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” So, even if your hand is on the tiller of your little boat, are you the captain, making all the decisions, or are you merely the helmsman, taking orders from the captain, God-Jesus-Holy Spirit?
Fifth, do you take joy in the process God has ordained of producing in you an unquenchable, undeniable, eternal hope that does not disappoint, a hope, Romans 5: 1-6, that God has poured out into our hearts by the Holy Spirit, after Christ’s death for our salvation, a hope born in our justification by faith, through which, even in the midst of the storm we have access to grace and peace, a hope tempered like fine steel, in the tribulations requiring our perseverance, which have built our character out of which our hope has been forged as steel. In that hope, hand to the tiller as you fear, trust and obey God, do you keep your forehead set like flint, Isaiah 50: 7, as did Jeus, knowing that God will help you and not disgrace you, as you travel in the course God has ordained for you, personaly?
You know, not all of us – indeed, none of us – are perfect in all of our ways in this journey of life. Yet, He is perfect in all of His ways. Fortunately for us, in God’s system of justice, mercy always triumphs over judgment, James 2:13, so as we admit to Him and ourselves our shortcomings (I John 1: 9) He is always faithful and just to forgive us and cleanse us of all unrighteousness. Thank you, Lord, for your mercy and forgiveness!
The prophetic voices are many to assure us of great trouble ahead, and in the short term of our lives. So, today, I leave you with those five questions about your life, and I leave you with the assurance of God’s mercy and faithfulness to forgive you and me. And I leave you with this encouragement from the Book of Jude, verses 17-21: “But you, beloved, remember the words which were spoken before by the apostles of our Lord Jesus Christ: how they told you that there would be mockers in the last time who would walk according to their ungodly lusts. These are sensual persons, who cause divisions, not having the Spirit. But you, beloved, building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”
Especially when the winds around you are contrary, look to Jesus, and know Him when you see Him, and be of good cheer! If you have Jesus, and really have him, all is well, all is well, and you have nothing to fear but a reverent and awesome fear of God. With that special PFD, you will survive into eternal life the storms of your life.