John 14:6 English Standard Version (ESV)
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Then Jesus told them this parable: “Suppose one of you has a hundred sheep and loses one of them. Doesn’t he leave the ninety-nine in the open country and go after the lost sheep until he finds it? And when he finds it, he joyfully puts it on his shoulders and goes home. Then he calls his friends and neighbors together and says, ‘Rejoice with me; I have found my lost sheep.’ I tell you that in the same way there will be more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent. Luke 15:3-7 NIV
Let me ask you this: Suppose you did all you could to make sure your child knew how to swim. Swimming lessons, life safety classes, even a few snorkeling classes. After all, you were once a lifeguard, and you know the ropes, so you took extra care to make sure she can swim. Then comes a day when you can take her to the lake to play with her friends. You are sure she knows what to do in the water, but you keep an eye out just in case. After all, even the best swimmers can get into the breakers, occasionally.
You start the bar-b-cue pit up, throw some doggies on the burner, some burgers, corn, a few other yummy treats. About the time you have that under control, you look up to see your worst nightmare.
She is drowning.
What do you do?
Now imagine this scenario: You tell anyone who is listening to call 911 while you strip down and get ready to rescue her. But all your friends and other people on the beach try their best to stop you. They tell you that she got herself into this, she needs to get herself out. They say all you will do is make things worse. They tell you if you go in after her, you might drown, too, or get hurt, or she may not want you to rescue her. What if even the lifeguard on duty tells you the same thing?
Will you stand on the shore and let her fend for herself? Will you stop and weigh the possible outcomes? Will you wait and consider the advice of everyone on the beach?
No! You will do all it takes, up to losing your own life to rescue her. She is your life, your heart, and your love. What kind of monster would ignore his own drowning child?
And what kinds of monsters give the advice that everyone gave you?
Now let me ask you this:
Suppose you did all you know how to do to make sure your beloved child knows Jesus Christ? You took her to church. You read the Bible to her. You prayed with her. You made sure she went to Christian schools. And when you look up, you see that she is drowning in a sea of bad choices? What if she isn’t even aware of the extreme danger she has put her soul in?
And just like the people on the beach, you get the exact same advice, even from people who serve the Lord.
Now, try to see this scenario:
When God created us, did He make sure we knew the ropes, and pitfalls to make sure we would always have eternal life with Him in Eden? Did He provide all we needed? Did He pour His love on us?
Imagine how it must have hurt when we rebelled and sinned. Imagine the heart-rending pain when He had to judge us, the earth, and the universe for all our sin?
Did He leave us to our own devices? Did He say, “They got themselves into this mess, they will have to figure it out?” Did the angels warn Him that, if he interfered, it would only get worse?
Did he write us off?
What did God do?
He came here in the form of a Man and took on the penalty for our sin. He bore the judgment of death on His self so we would not have to. He gave up His kingdom so we can inherit it. He loved us so much that while we are at war with him, He sent Jesus Christ to die in our place, to bear the wrath and judgment of God. Jesus, the God-Man, became all our sin so we can become all his righteousness.
That is what God did.
So, now I ask you; If you see your daughter dying of the very sin Jesus already paid for, what would you do?
It is in the Father’s heart to give his own life for the life of His beloved children.
It is in my heart to give all I have and am to help rescue my child.
It is in this father’s heart to be like the Savior who died for me. I will give all I have to see that my child lives with me in eternity in the presence of the Living God.
Examine your souls, Christian. If you are not willing to lose everything so that others may live, stop saying you are His child. Selfishness is the fruit of Satan.
This father will give all he has unto death if it means his child will live in eternity with Christ. How can I cross the street to witness to a stranger if I am not ready to give up everything for my own child? What hypocrite worries about pain in the face of need? What kind of abject spiritual poverty demands you leave your child to drown in sin?
Godliness begins at home, people. And if you cannot manage that, you have no business taking your brand of Christianity anywhere. I may have failed my daughter in the past, but while I have life, I have hope, and I will spend every ounce of both doing all I can to bring the Love of God to my drowning daughter. I cannot save her, but I know who can. I cannot redeem her, but I know who will. I cannot give up my salvation so she can have it, but I know the one who has already done this.
The greatest gift I have ever received is the love and grace of God through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
It is the only thing I have left worth having in this life, and I will give that to her.
It is what is in this father’s heart.
Go and do the same.
For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life! – Romans 5:10 NIV
For Harland Cason, who reminded me what really matters.
Thank you, God, that you are the father of the fatherless. You are the friend of the friendless. The comforter of those who are broken, mourning and lost. You are the everlasting companion to the orphan.
I was forsaken until Jesus died on the cross and became the most wretched and forsaken being in all the known universes.
When He rose from the dead, I was no longer forsaken, but am now a Son of God.
Had I not been lost, you would not have found me.
Thank you for being my father, my friend, my comfort when all others forsake me. Teach me to forgive the hurts others have brought me in shunning me, just as you have forgiven me for shunning you.
“Though my father and mother forsake me, the Lord will receive me.” Psalm 27:10 NIV
Thank you, God, that by His stripes I am healed. Thank you that you cleansed the world of the sickness and decay of sin. I may not see or realize yet the efficacious power of your healing blood, but I receive your gift of life. Thank you that you touched me and have healed me.
“But for you who revere my name, the sun of righteousness will rise with healing in its rays. And you will go out and frolic like well-fed calves.” Malachi 4:2 NIV
Who is more blind, the one who has no eyes, or the one who refuses to see? Yet, to prove you are the Righteous Son of God, and to prove you have the power to forgive sin, in order to open MY eyes, you healed the eyes of Bartimaeus.
Even though my eyes may fail me, I see clearly that you are the Lord, The Only Begotten Son of God.
Teach me to see hope when I cannot see. Teach me to see love when I have none to give. Teach me to see the needs of others and meet those needs, just as you have continuously met mine.
Dry the tears from my eyes so I can see your grace and mercy and love and glory.
Thank you for helping me see, even in the darkest of night and despair.
Teach me to open the eyes of those who refuse to see, just as you have opened my eyes.
“Jesus said,a “For judgment I have come into this world, so that the blind will see and those who see will become blind.” NIV
Before I knew you, before I was even born, you knew me. Even though I was your sworn enemy, and dead to the Father, you loved me and breathed life into my dead, parched soul.
If I had not known you, Jesus, I would be dead. You gave me life. You died so I can live.
If you don’t receive this free gift Jesus paid for with his life, you are still dead. Come to life. Come to Jesus. I plead with you, LIVE in the blessed name of Jesus Christ, the Living Son, the Holy Anointed one, the one who spoke everything that exists into being. By his breath, you will live, if only you will receive it.
Because of our sin, we are all dead, unless we let Him bring us to the cross, and we die with him and are raised into a new life as he was.
As it is written: “I have made you a father of many nations.” He is our father in the sight of God, in whom he believed—the God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.
I thought I was a prince among men. I boasted of my skills and prowess. Then I was brought low and wretched. A reject to all who knew me. Then Jesus reached through all my filth, my sin, all the evil I had done in this world. He became wretched for my sake so I can be a child of God.
Until you can know that all your finery, status, education and wealth amount to absolutely nothing in Gods eyes, you will be more wretched than the lowest beggar on the street. God is not impressed with titles, or with wealth, or knowledge. All these things are puny and will be destroyed on the day of judgment, along with your soul. You will die a dreadful death until you come to the point where you realize what a desperate wretch you are.
What a wretched man I am! Who will rescue me from this body of death? 25Thanks be to God, through Jesus Christ our Lord! Romans 7:24 Berean Study Bible
In the eyes of the world, I am a disgrace. I have squandered all my talents, my life, and my love.
But Jesus became a curse so I can receive His blessing. He reaches through the mire of my guilt and sin and lifts me up.
His Grace has made me whole.
There is no one alive whose life is so disturbingly disgraceful that Jesus cannot reach down and lift him up, and by His Grace, make you His beloved brother or sister. You cannot be too disgusting for God. All you have to do is receive the gift of Jesus Christ, and you will be clean and whole again.
Because the Sovereign Lord helps me, I will not be disgraced. Isaiah 50:7 NIV
God receives none but those who are forsaken,
restores health to none but those who are sick,
gives sight to none but the blind,
and life to none but the dead…
He has mercy on none but the wretched
and gives grace to none but those who are in disgrace.
(Luther, Weimar Ausgabe 1, p. 183f)
Let’s Be About It!
I love you in the name of Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord, whose death paid for our freedom, and whose resurrection lifted us up to the Throne of God, that we are called the Sons of God.
David G. Perkins
One of the best butt kickings I ever had was while I was a student at the Seidokan Aikido School in Fort Worth, Texas.
She was probably 110 pounds soaking wet.
She was maybe 5’-0”.
She looked as if a strong wind could carry her away.
We were paired together to practice a technique called “Heaven to Earth.” The outcome of this technique is self-explanatory, but, when it is done on you, you see why it is called that. You fly through the heavens and land hard on the earth.
I was to be her assailant. Me, muscular, several black belts, virile, agile, and deadly (I was in my late 20’s back then, so…I thought I was all that). She had to protect herself from my attack.
I felt terrible about this pairing, but Master Sosa insisted we practice this technique together. I even warned her that I’m some kind of big deal in the Martial Arts World, and have combat experience, and am, well….awesome.
She smiled her charming, demure smile, looked at me with her big brown almond shaped eyes, tied her very long cascade of black hair behind her head with a leather string, and said, “We still have to do what we have to do. “
I attacked her hard.
When I woke up, little birdies were orbiting my head.
It turns out, she was an advanced black belt in the Aikido world. She taught the Dallas Police Department S.W.A.T. team Combat fighting and non-lethal takedown techniques. She also taught a women’s rape prevention course.
Regardless how highly I thought of myself, my opinion was immediately negated when faced with the real deal. I was not qualified on my own experience and merit to be part of the elite members of the Seidokan team.
I was a member of the Kaju Kiado Kwai Kwoon Do. The Red Dragons.
I spent decades studying several martial arts and earned black belts in many of them.
I assumed that my confirmed experience and membership in the Kwoon would mean something to Master Sosa.
Belonging to a particular club held no merit in Master Sosa’s eyes. It was what was in my heart that he wanted to reach and teach. I either wanted to be a real Aikidoka, or I could just go pound sand elsewhere.
When I stood on the judgment ground of the DoJo, my membership to the Kwoon became pointless. No one from the Kwoon was there to back me. I was on my own. I was defeated before the action began, and I didn’t even know it. My membership to the Kwoon didn’t admit me to the inner circle of the Seidokan Elite Team.
My arrogance was in the way.
When you die, what will you take with you to your judgment?
When it comes to facing the test of your faith, will you rely on the fact that you taught Sunday School for decades?
Will you depend on your reputation as a Religious person to get you into the Kingdom?
Will you brag to God that you belong to the best church in town, and have been a member since you were a zygote?
Lucifer had more than that going for him, and God cast him from heaven to earth.
The only thing that matters now, and will ever matter, is where you are in Christ Jesus.
Your skill as a bible student will not get you there. Being a graduate of Seminary will not get you there. Being a Minister or Sunday school teacher will not get you there.
Hell will be filled with Religious Christians, Ministers, Sunday School teachers, people who belonged to the very best churches money could buy, yet, there they are, in Hell.
It is only because of Jesus and His righteousness, because of His suffering on the Cross, His death, and resurrection, that we even have a claim to God. It is only by His grace and faith in His promise that you are saved and qualified to be called a Son of God.
God doesn’t care how famous you are as a “Christian.” The book of Matthiew (Sheep and Goats) covers what happens to people who have deluded themselves into thinking they are safe from God’s judgment.
Jesus told them, “I never knew you.”
Does He know you?
Let’s be about it.
Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, and whoever will lose his life for my sake will find it. (Mat 16:24-25 WEB)
I have witnesses to what I am about to tell you.
When I was a teenager, I was also an evangelist. I wanted to be the next Billy Graham. When I couldn’t get anyone to stand still long enough to hear me preach, I would go out to Camp Bowie, Brownwood, where certain Cattlemen kept their cows. I would preach to those poor cows. I have to warn you, if a cow accepts Jesus as His or Her Lord and Savior, be careful when you baptise it. Cows are very difficult to baptise. Just trust me on this, OK?
I fell from grace when I was in my 20’s.
When I was in my early 30’s I repented, reaffirmed my relationship to Jesus Christ as my savior, and started evangelizing. What I thought was a repentance was not much more than me missing being a baptist. I even went to a baptist seminary.
I discovered the depth of my “renewed” faith when something really awful happened. When that awful thing happened, God let me know in very clear terms that, if I stand with Him, He will guide me through this very hard thing. The weakness in my faith revealed itself, though, and I returned to that life of rampant sin and violence I lived in my 20’s, but I did it even more and to greater depths. When I committ, I go all the way, or no way. I don’t really have an in between.
Four years ago, I discovered what the Cross of Christ is really about. I learned what terrible price Jesus paid for me. I learned He didn’t die for my sin, he died for me, OF my sin. All sin. Past present and future were put to death on the Cross with Christ. Eventually, I learned, as Paul pointed out, that when He died on that cross, and because I accepted that free gift, I also died with him. Now, I live by the grace of God through the measure of faith Christ invested in me (Galations 2:20).
Before this revelatrion of Grace, the music my soul played was awful. I was awful. I hated everything and everyone. When people saw me coming, they left the room before I even got there. (Very true story, if you want witnesses, I’ll tell you who to call).
After Grace happened, I saw everyone as someone Christ died for. Instead of wanting to harm people and hate people, I was filled with an understanding of the Love God has for everyone.
I never knew such a spectacular love. I never realized what Grace can do for a person. The grace of God, His mercy, His love, His free gift of salvation is spectacularly immeasurable wonderful. And it IS free to anyone who will accept it. Simple, right?
Just after my real and very power conversion, another very bad thing happened in my life. This hurt goes deep to the bone, to the heart, through the soul. The difference this time is, I belong to the Living God through Jesus Christ…for real. I am determined to not repeat the mistakes I made the last time I was hurt this badly.
I knew I was supposed to come to Colorado. My belief was that I would walk right into a ministry and serve. I want to serve so very badly. I figured that God was orchestrating this, too.
I figured this because my getting here was a miracle in itself. I didn’t have the means to move to Colorado, but the means came to me, unbidden, in ways that let me know God was doing this.
I got to Colorado. Pueblo, specifically. There is a reason God had me come here. I wanted to live in Colorado Springs, but God orchestrated things so that I ended up here, instead.
And I still want to serve. And I pray to serve. But God’s answer is, and remains, “Be Still, you are not ready to serve.”
I asked God what he meant.
I’ll share His answer with you.
See…for Christmas, I got a Slow Cooker. I am a terrible cook, but I am learning how to survive on what I make using the slow cooker. I am alone for the first time in my life, and have no cooking skills whatsoever. But I am learning. Last Thursday evening, I started up the slow cooker before I went to my Pilates class. I was praying while I was preparing. I was asking God when all this grief will pass, and when will I be allowed off the bench and into the game.
After I got home from Pilates, the house smelled wonderful, but the meal was not ready. While I added water and some spices, I prayed again about my wanting to serve.
God answered me with this illustration:
Thursday, right after work, and before my Pilates class, I grabbed some ingredients and placed them in the slow cooker. I put in Salmon steak, rice, assorted vegetables, spices, and a can of Progresso Spicy Vegetable Soup.Each ingredient alone is good, savory, tasty, and delicious. Ingredients, however, are better when they are cooked together in a slow cooker.Ingredients in a slow cooker are not a meal until they have cooked at the right temperature and at the right pressure. It is a meal when it is the right mix (You wouldn’t drink a Sesame Orange marinade right out of the bottle, but you’d love the way it flavors your meal once it has infused into the rice and fish), and have been blended in a way that make a meal, and have cooked the right length of time. Time and temperature take care of the cooking.Eventually, the aroma of the thing being slow cooked starts to waft through the house. It smells good, but it is not a meal yet.After Pilates and my errands, when I walked into the house, my house smelled wonderful, but it still was not a meal.I had to get a big spoon, stir, add a touch of water, maybe a spice or two.(Some spices aren’t supposed to be added until a certain amount of cooking happens, and stirring agitates the blend of ingredients so that the flavor is evenly dispersed, and the food doesn’t burn (Thereby ruining the meal)).All this time, heat, pressure and effort goes into so simple a thing as slow cooking. There comes the point in the process that the aroma is so delicious that you KNOW intuitively, YOU HAVE A MEAL READY TO ENJOY. And that first bite tells the story, and is delicious and filling and…yummy.Serving a meal takes time and effort. The bitterness of some vegetables is removed during the cooking process, and they become sweet or savory vegetables when it is time to serve them. Salmon is a great protein, but you cannot eat it frozen and shouldn’t eat it raw. But when it has been properly prepared, it is delicious and succulent and savory.That is what it is like to be prepared for His service.I have all the ingredients to serve, but I have not been properly prepared, properly seasoned, properly stirred, properly simmered…yet. But when I have been, God will say, “Now he is ready to serve.”God has to prepare his servants.We are to give up our individual identity and be part of something greater than us. We are to be altered to the point where we are no longer inedible, but are savory and inviting. Service is not a part-time hobby. God’s true servants give up their identity and very lives for God. When we are a pleasing aroma in His nose, then we are ready to be served up to a hungry world in need of answers.And we will be consumed by serving, because, Like Christ, we are to be completely consumed by our call. A hungry soul is looking for something he can sink his teeth into, and the soul that belongs to Satan wants to destroy God and all His servants, and throw us out. Either way, we cannot be accepted or rejected until we have been properly prepared to be the meal offering that God needs us to be.That is the lesson God showed me while I was impatiently waiting for the timer on the slow cooker to ding.If, like me, you want to be served up, you have to wait for God to prepare you, temper you, stir you up, put you under pressure, and strip you down until you are no longer your own, but part of the Free Gift he is serving to a dying world. It takes time and patience.Let’s Be About It!
“Just as I am without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
– O Lamb of God, I come!
One of my fondest memories from Childhood is Peanuts, by Charles Schultz. When a Peanuts Special came on, everything stopped. My family would gather around the TV and, for one hour, everything was good, and magical, and happy.
The character I always thought I identified with was Linus. My sister thought so, too. Mom, on the other hand, had an entirely different opinion of me. Every time Pigpen crossed the screen, Mom would say, “There’s my David!”.
I couldn’t argue with Mom. Well, I could, but she was right. Anyone who has lived with me knows my Mom was right. I am a Pigpen. Ask any number of wives and lovers who has ever had to spend any amount of time with me, they will tell you, I am Pigpen.
It is entirely possible that, if you were to bathe me, place me immediately in a perfectly spherical room with nothing else in it, in a matter of hours, I could mess that room up and come out dirtier than before my bath.
Tell me if you identify with this:
Life has happened and it was very messy.
You have been shaken to the core, and are confused.
You feel lost.
Things are to the point where you question the reality of your spiritual life. You wonder if your spiritual life were anything better than an illusion manufactured by your emotions. An illusion ready to be dissolved by the evidence of your circumstances.
Your prayers bounce off the ceiling. You feel trapped. You want escape from these circumstances.
Nothing is right, nothing is where it should be. Nothing makes sense anymore.
You find yourself trapped in a world you have no idea how you got into. You find you are alone, even in a room full of fellow believers. Not only that, you discover that your circumstances make them not just uncomfortable, but they avoid you.
You suddenly identify with the guy in New York who is being mugged, and no one is helping, but everyone is watching.
You want out. You want to run. You feel like being irrational. You want anything but what you have, and want to be any place but where you are.
If the truth were told, you’d practically sell your soul if you could just turn time back to the way things were before things got so messy.
In short, You Are A Mess.
This series, however many entries it may have, will do its best to discuss this problem of the mess we are in. I said “We” because I am in the same place as you. A real mess. A place where nothing makes sense. A place where circumstances are not at all how things should have turned out.
I get it.
Come with me as we walk through this mess. We will discover that there is a way to set things right. There is hope. There is a place of peace and sanctuary where you can heal, and start fresh.
It doesn’t matter why this mess is here. Most likely, if you are honest, it is a mess of your own making. I know mine is.
What we have to do is BE STILL. Take Stock. Be quiet and quit trying to clean up this mess.
We have to Be Still. Stop Moving. Be Silent. We need to take stock of the truth.
In being still, we discover certain truths. We discover that the more we try to clean it up, the worse it gets. We compound our guilt and shame every time we fail to recover from this terrible mess.
We will have to go back to what is Certain.
What is certain?
We are saved.
We are certain we are saved because we know that Jesus died of our sin, and took all our guilt and shame to the cross. In exchange, He gave us the right to be called the Sons of God.
We are certain of the of Lord: His Power, His Promise, His Salvation.
What is the formula for our faith? Simple, Jesus brings you Himself as Lord.
Jesus brings you the Gospel of pardon; Just as you are, mess and all.
See….you don’t have to clean up to be saved. You don’t have to stop messing things up in order to be saved. You don’t have to adopt a lot of rules and regulations to be saved. You ARE saved by the simple acceptance of His free gift. HE paid the price of your mess for you.
To Him, you are already acceptable and clean.
Jesus brings you His peace – not as the world gives. The world only accepts you when you behave in a manner that they accept. Religions only accept you only when you behave the way they say you must. Other Christians, unlike Jesus, only accept you when you act like they do.
Jesus, on the other hand, accepts you right now, just as you are. It becomes the job of the Holy Spirit to affect any changes in you that Jesus sees you need. Only God can change a mans’ heart. Only God can draw you to Himself. Only God can save you through Jesus death and resurrection. Only God can clean up this mess.
It is not relevant who made it. He will heal it.
And this He has done.
He loves you.
Just as you are.
Let’s stop, be still, and meditate on this.
The contract Jesus had with God is that, because Humans are incapable of saving themselves from Hell and death, (The wages of sin is death), Jesus will die in our place. In return, WE get forgiven of our rebellion and are inheritors of eternal life.
His promise to you is: Accept this free gift, and you, too will live.
This mess you are in no longer belongs to you. It is HIS now. Let Him deal with it, as He heals you of your circumstances.
You are a mess, and only Christ can clean it up.
Be Still and remember this.
“Just as I am without one plea,
But that thy blood was shed for me,
And that thou bidst me come to thee,
– O Lamb of God, I come!
I love you in Jesus’ name.
David G. Perkins
For Sandy, who gave me this idea, and whom I love with an undying love.
My favorite Hymn is “It is Well”, especially lately. It seems like I have needed this Hymn a lot these past few months.
What has happened? I have lost my family. I have lost my love. My identity was stolen twice. The plans I had made for the future of my family were destroyed in one fell swoop.
In the end, I was left with nothing, alone, bereft, broken. The pain of these losses is almost unbearable. Grief and confusion are powerful things. This grief is all consuming and threatens to smash the ship of my soul against the breakers. I am lost, with no mooring, with no GuideStar, with no compass. Everything I believed about love and family been betrayed by falsehoods and deception. The hopes I had for the future have been taken away from me.
This storm and confusion has taken hold of me and relentlessly tears my sails away. I have lost my anchor. I am taking on water. Where will I find that shore? Where is my mooring? Who will rescue me from this storm?
On top of this, if you know anything about Aspergers, you know that one so afflicted usually needs a “normal” to be the touchstone to all things normal. My touchstone is the woman I love, who is no longer part of my life. This too adds waves to my storm. My ship is being battered by things that normal people deal with as if only a gentle breeze were blowing. Without the touchstone, it doesn’t matter how “High Functioning” you are, some things simply do not make sense to you.
If you run from the deck of your ship to the belly of your ship, you are still in the middle of the storm. So, where do you turn? How do you find your way back to safety, to the shore? Where is the touchstone? Where is your Guidestone? Where are safety and peace?
“Then you will call my name. You will come to me and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will search for me, and when you search for me with all your heart, you will find me. I will let you find me.” Jeremiah 29:12-14a.
One of the hardest things to realize is that even these things are for a purpose. It’s hard to remember the greater good when you are being torn to shreds by your own circumstances. It ceases to matter why you are in this storm. It can be a storm of your own making (Which is usually the case) or a storm brought on by the selfish desires of people you depended on. Or this storm could be the plan of evil people who delight in your destruction for their own advancement. It ceases to matter when your ship is taking on water, and your sails are gone. At this juncture, all you can do is hang on to the nearest mast, lash yourself to it, and pray.
I tore my clothes (I only got more exposed to the storm that way).
I cursed the waves and the wind.
Then I prayed for the storm to take me. I welcomed the sweet release of death. I wanted it all to be over. The storm had won. I had lost.
I discovered that screaming at the storm only makes you hoarse. The storm doesn’t care. The storm rages on whether you love it or hate it. Storms always do what storms do…wreak havoc. That is what storms do.
So, what is left? Tied to my mast, getting drenched, broken in spirit, all I had left was to wait and let the storm do what the storm does.
I turned to fellow believers.
In America, fellow believers are too busy being American to let things like storms in other people’s lives divert them from their lives. Afterall, it isn’t their storm, and God must have placed you (The Sailor) in that storm for a reason.
Best not to interfere with the storm.
What you, my fellow believers, fail to realize is, the storm exists to expose the heart of the sailor, and your heart. Indifference is not the fruit of the spirit. Berating the sailor in the storm is not a fruit of the spirit. Lecturing the sailor in the fine craft of Seamanship while the storm rages is not a fruit of the spirit. Pulling out the Sailor’s “The Art of Sailing Manual” and lecturing on all the shoulda coulda and woulda is not a fruit of the spirit (Or have you not read Job?)
So, where does this battered sailor turn when all hope is lost?
Deep in the midst of the howling wind and blowing rain is a still small voice. She is the voice of the Holy Spirit. She calls you into the presence of God. She reminds you that you are His beloved, whom He died for.
God is there, waiting for you to stop fighting the storm. The storm is not the problem. Storms come to everyone for any number of reasons. But to the lives of His children, even the storm is meant to be a blessing (See Romans 8:28). Storms sweep the deck of useless things. Storms shake up your life in a way that forces you to take stock of what is important.
And what is it that God, my Father has said to me?
“Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations. I will be exalted in the earth.”
(Psa 46:10 WEB)
“God is mighty. God is infinite. God is Love. God is ever-present, even in our storms.”
That is what He said to me.
In my arrogance, I railed against God and shouted, “Lord, am I ever seeking you?”, “Do I not always pray, read your word, listen for you?”, “Where are you, Father?” ,”God, I am done with my life, please bring me home.”
He let me know that He is why my ship has not sunk to the depts of the sea. He is why the Leviathan has not attacked me. He is what protects me from falling to my death. He is why I am still alive.
He is not done with me.
I asked Him, “Then why has my love betrayed me, why have I lost everything dear to me?”
He tells me, “You have Me. That is sufficient.”
I don’t feel like that is an answer.
Then something remarkable happens.
Even though the storm still rages, and my ship is being battered into toothpicks, all grows quiet.
A light penetrates the darkness.
He has arrived.
His hands are scarred from something that had pierced them. His eyes are so full of love and compassion, I cannot stand to look at him. I am undone. I can’t hide from Him.
He stops right in front of me, where I am lashed to the Main Mast. He looks at me with a love and compassion I have never, ever known before.
He tells me to stop fighting Him.
He tells me that the point in Being Still is to cease my useless striving after answers.
Be still…don’t move.
Stop trying to make it make sense.
Just…be, and know that He is God, not just of all the universes, but of my heart.
I will not tell you everything else He told me, but I will tell you this:
When you Be Still, and stop trying to put God in your little religious box, when you let Him into your storm, when you capitulate and know that your efforts are useless, when you give in and trust that He has your best interests at heart, that storm you tried to hide from becomes a ride that you relish.
You know that as Long as you be still and trust Him, no matter how things look to you, He is your Captain, and he will guide you through the breakers to a land full of His promise and purpose.
The difference is how much you try to fight the storm, or how well you stop fighting God.
I recently told Sandy, “Really and truly, All I want is less of me and more of Him. But I must be doing this all wrong. The more I try, the farther away He seems.”
I was trying on my own might. Not only that, I was trusting others, and not God for direction.
Life is full of storms.
Your spouse will eventually let you down, maybe even betray you.
You may make and lose fortunes.
You will have friends and lose friends.
You will end up in places where you are utterly alone, in a hostile environment, with no one you can really call a brother.
I confess, I relied on all these trappings for my sense of place and belonging.
I cannot be less of me unless I first am still. God has to do the work. I have to submit.
I needed my deck cleared of all that stands between God and me.
I confess I am useless and hopeless without him. I confess I made the mistake of using others to anchor me. God has allowed this storm to clear away all the things that stand between Him and me.
The first part of knowing that He is God is to be still…to stop striving…to stop your own efforts.
God will reveal himself to the heart that diligently seeks Him, but it first begins with being still. Being diligent doesn’t mean you have to do it yourself, it means that you diligently submit your desires, will, and understanding to Him.
The Hebrew words for “Be Still” imply a rich tapestry of meaning: To stop moving (Of one’s own passionate volition), to stop acting out and to stop speaking. To leave off your striving, to capitulate over to the knowledge that He alone is God.
When the Lord appears to you in your storm, you have begun to be still. When His love washes over you, the storm takes on new meaning and purpose. Instead of fighting all that has happened, you finally get to the place where you trust He will guide you through this, and He has a purpose for this, too.
God does not send evil your way. Evil will still come to you. Storms happen. It no longer matters if you brought on the storm, or sailed right into it, or were minding your own business when the storm suddenly appears (they do that when you re at sea).
God will take advantage of your circumstances and show His love and His might, and He will guide you through this. No matter what brought on the Storm, if you will submit to His Lordship in your life, you will see that even this pain, this grief, this sorrow, will bring you closer to Him, and make you like Him, and He will teach you how even this bitter grief serves the Kingdom.
My storm is still there. My sorrow is ever as deep as it ever was. My tears still fall, and the pain is still ever present. But I now know, He gathers all my tears in a bottle and will exchange them for His Joy.
Storms have to run their course.
However, in this storm, I have learned that all my vain striving is wasted and that I must fail, and accept that I have failed. No man can know God unless God reveals Himself to that man.
I have also learned that Heaven cannot be taken by storm, only by invitation. But I first must be still. He makes the pain and tears and sadness and loss take on a new meaning. We grieve for the loss of true love, but God will heal that hurt, if you just be still.
I cannot know the Lord unless I am still.
The Lord wants you to know Him, too.
Just be still….
I love you in Jesus.
PS – I love you, Sandy. No matter what. I love you, and I always will. No man can take that away from me. I pray God leads you to your new life. I will always love you.