In this 100th blog, I wondered what the Bible had to say about ‘100’.
Nothing glamourous, as I had hoped. The first one embodied a cynical old man! “Abraham fell face down; he laughed and said to himself, ‘Will a son be born to a man a hundred years old?'” (Genesis 17:17) I wondered… am I still on the ground laughing at God’s promises? Do I still doubt him when he says he will save?
Then a surprise. The last ‘100’ at the end of the Bible was about Abraham as well! “Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead – since he was about a hundred years old.” (Romans 4:19) Yes, each of us can flounder in impossible situations. So often I do. But it is God who laughs at those impossibilities and difficulties.* He tells us, “I’ve got it. Don’t fear.”
*Psalm 2:4; Psalm 37:13
Photo by Ben White on Unsplash
The waves crashed. Winds howled. The ship was breaking apart. But some sailors in the Bible frapped their ship. “They passed ropes under the ship itself to hold it together…” (Acts 27:17)
All of us have been hit by an almighty storm, and our lives are breaking apart. But God wants us to know that he is frapping our hearts. He is holding us together in his strong, encircling arms.
This doesn’t mean that the storm will pass us by, but our hearts can be calm. For Paul on that ship, God told him, “Do not be afraid.” (Acts 27:24) And God keeps telling us, “Do not fear!”
His encircling ropes appear in many ways, and often it comes through us. I’ve seen a lot of frapping happening right now, us helping others before they fall apart. No matter the storm, we can show God’s heart.
Something spooked my father and we fled until he felt safe – a thousand miles. We finally set up tents on an Arizona mountain, beside a road built by prisoners of war. For three weeks we camped in that desolate wilderness.
In the silence, I played my accordion. My melody echoed with the remembered chisel sounds of those prisoners. I too was a captive to someone else’s fear. Yet my fingers played something far more captivating…
“Oh the deep, deep love of Jesus
Vast, unmeasured, boundless, free
Rolling as a mighty ocean
In its fullness over me, underneath me, all around me
Is the current of your love
Leading onward, leading homeward
To your glorious rest above.”
Jesus holds us tight in a love that understands.
Composer: Samuel Trevor Francis (1834-1925). Photo: OB OA on Unsplash.
The other night my mobile phone’s GPS told me that my thirty-minute journey would take two hours! Another accident, I thought. I followed the directions. Then it said, “Turn left on Bicycle Route 6.” What? It thought I was a bike!
I reset my phone, and it took me down a single-track road. Four kilometers later, no lights or habitations around, tall metal bollards blocked my way. Only bicycles could pass through. I came unglued. “I’m a car,” I cried out, “not a bike!”
Then it hit me. I wasn’t a car. I wasn’t even an insignificant dot to a satellite in the sky. I was scared, and God’s precious daughter. I could trust HIM… I turned off my mobile phone and prayed. God got me home with his GPS.
Sometimes what we experience is not understood. “But I do!” people might say. “I can totally relate! It’s just like when I got a bicycle puncture. Deflating.”
Our heart sinks. We fall silent. We feel like we are sitting at the bottom of a deep well. Alone. Unheard. If only someone understood. If only we could share our heart.
Yet, something good can come out of a well. There is a light, and it is up above. It makes us lift our heads. There is a person we can talk to – God.
Jeremiah also ended up in a well. He said, “I called on your name, O Lord, from the depths of the pit. You came near and said, ‘Do not fear.’“ (from Lamentations 3: 55-57)
Sometimes people hurt us and we end up deeply shaken. But those people also accomplish something else. They reveal to us what is in our hearts. I don’t often like what I find in mine: anger, fear, pride… I even contemplate revenge.
Someone in the Bible suffered injustice as well, yet he reacted differently. He cried out, “My soul finds rest in God alone… He alone is my rock and my salvation. He is my fortress. I will never be shaken.” (Psalm 62:1-2)
Can anything good come out of pain? There is one thing. Through it God can show us if we have wandered away from him. Through it we can make the choice to return and find rest in him.
I wish it hadn’t happened, but this thing called fear was planted inside me as a child. Even now it tries to grab a hold of me. It tries to take over.
I can tell you that fear is a prison. It tears away from us the courage to fight back. It makes us powerless. But knowledge of fear, and how it works, doesn’t mean it goes away.
There is only one way I have found to overcome fear. I make a choice. I choose to look at God, not the one who causes fear. I choose to care what God thinks of me, not the opinions of others. I choose to be what God wants me to be, not what others demand.
When I do that, fear disappears.
You probably know how hard it is when those we love push us away…
- If you don’t do what I say, you can’t be my friend.
- If you love me, you will never disagree with me.
- If you care for me, you won’t tell the truth.
What are we supposed to do? We are upset and scared.
But God doesn’t push us away. He says, “I, even I, am he who comforts you. Who are you that you fear mortal men? … I have put my words in your mouth and covered you with the shadow of my hand.” (Isaiah 51:12,16)
God gives us his dignity. He gives us the wisdom how to respond. He protects us. We can move on.
Memories can become our masters. When we have been broken and hurt, and don’t know how to move on, those memories enslave us. It is as if they take over our life.
In the Bible God’s people were enslaved as well. They knew they couldn’t escape the pain and suffering inflicted on them. God knew they couldn’t… He rescued them. He sent hope. “Do not be afraid. Stand firm and you will see the deliverance the Lord will bring you today… The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still.” (Exodus 14:13-14)
Let God fight for your heart today. Believe him when he says, “Don’t be afraid.”
“I have learned to kiss the waves that throw me up against the Rock of Ages.” (C H Spurgeon) I thought I had learned this, but as I looked at the next one, it was huge. “I can take this,” I thought, and steadied myself. That wave picked me up and threw me down. It broke me.
Jesus gathered my debris. “Darling, there is another way to tackle waves. Surf them. My Word is the board. Climb on behind me. Let’s do the next ones together.”
It’s a different view on top of waves. Jesus shows why people roar: fear… hopelessness… the need to survive… Funny how these waves bring us close to Jesus. I think I’ll kiss him instead.