It was a cold New York December day just before Christmas. A little boy, who was about 10 years old, was standing in front of a shoe store on the roadway, barefoot, peering through the big plate-glass window, and shivering with cold. An older lady approached the boy and said, “My little fellow, why are you looking so earnestly in that window?” The young boy responded, “I was asking God to give me a pair of shoes.”
At one time or another, we will all face disappointment, trials, hardships, and even depression. But only the child of God has the promise that His presence is with us in the midst of the storm. Our Heavenly Father is with us at the beginning of our journey and at the end. He doesn’t promise us smooth sailing, but a safe passage.
There are times we have a tight grip on our things. For some their stuff is so precious they won’t trust even their closest friends with it. When we recall the story of Abraham and Isaac we stand amazed at the fact that Abraham would seriously consider taking the life of his only son, for whom he waited 100 years.
A young man who worked in a store filled with aquariums explains that the most popular fish is the shark. If you catch a small shark and confine it, it will stay a size proportionate to the aquarium. Sharks can be six-inches long yet fully matured. But if you turn them loose in the ocean, they grow to their normal length of eight to ten feet.
A few years ago, at the Seattle Special Olympics, nine contestants, all physically or mentally disabled, assembled at the starting line for the 100-yard dash. At the gun, they all started out, not exactly in a dash but with a relish to run the race to the finish and win – all, that is, except one little boy who stumbled on the asphalt, tumbled over a couple of times, and began to weep.
Imagine a drowning person who is pulled from the ocean. It’s not just about being saved from drowning; it’s also about the new opportunity to live a life committed to significance not just success. Isaiah’s words create a powerful picture of a white garment with a scarlet stain. Only the blood of Christ can take that red, crimson stain and make it white as snow.
On a blustery day, a fellow was working on his roof, which had a sharp peak. So he decided to be safe he should somehow secure himself to something on the earth. He tied a rope around his waist, pulled it tight, climbed to the roof, and went over the peak. Then he threw the rope over the side and said to his boy, “Tie that to the tree.” Well, the little kid thought, “That tree is rather small.” So he tied the rope…
He said that the most popular fish among his patrons was the shark. If you catch a small shark and confine it in an aquarium, it will stay a size proportionate to the aquarium. Sharks can be six-inches long yet fully matured. But if you turn them loose in the ocean, they grow to their normal length of eight feet and beyond.
Discouragement is often seen in the hearts of those who struggle with relationships. Despite all the great technology assisting us with communication, when it comes to effectively communicating love and heartfelt matters between individuals, many people experience frustration and disappointment. This is especially true within a family and with those we love the most.
One of them, named Cleopas, asked him [the stranger walking in their midst], “Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?” “What things?” he asked. “About Jesus of Nazareth,” they replied. “He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people. The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him; but we had hoped that he was the one who was going to redeem Israel…”
At that moment the Spirit of God began to convict Charles of his sins. All the Scripture he had read, and all the occasions others witnessed to him about Christ flooded his mind. He stood on the platform backwards to make his dive, spread his arms to gather his balance, looked up to the wall, and saw his own shadow on the side of the pool building. The moonlight silhouetted his body projecting the shape of a cross on the stark, white wall.
Billy Graham prophetically said, “I realize that my ministry would someday come to an end. I’m only one in a glorious chain of men and women God has raised up through the centuries to build Christ’s church and take the Gospel everywhere.”
When death visits your personal address book it causes one to think about those things that have eternal significance. Faith, family, and character take precedence over fame, power, and fortune. Further, this is a time that allows people to evaluate the lives of those who are no longer with us.
The hiking experience is a great metaphor about life. In most remote hiking areas, it is very common to start down a trail only to find that leaves, pine needles, and/or erosion can camouflage the main trail. If you don’t really know the area well, or aren’t paying attention to your direction, you can easily get off track.
Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” Then the wind died down and it was completely calm. He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?” They were terrified and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!”