In Matthew 14 we read about the disciples having a tough night while on a fishing expedition. The wind and waves had carried them many yards from shore and the chill of the early morning hours was setting in. The “fourth watch” was from 3:00-6:00 AM when exhaustion can hang heavy. Deprived of sleep, the imagination wanders and fear can heighten. The dampness clung to and bit at the weariness of these fishermen.
How often have you heard a football commentator or a coach talk about a player missing a catch or handoff because he took his eyes off the ball? A good receiver “looks the ball” into his hand—his gaze is so fixed on the spiraling leather that a defender hitting him seems like a distant possibility.
I can’t remember a time when so many friends were under such physical, mental, and/or spiritual attack. Maybe it’s a sign of my age. Maybe it’s the result of the chaos in the sin-filled world we live in. I don’t know. I do know that there are many people suffering and being challenged.
Look at the number of despondent people that you encounter every day. Road rage, violence, suicide, drug abuse, and divorce rates among the rich and famous are no different from those of modest means. The incidence of “bad behavior” among the social elite and politicians is an embarrassment to those of us who hold to a biblical worldview of what’s good and decent.
They had just reached his daughter’s home when my friend realized that he had forgotten his laptop at the coffee shop in Chicago! He was beside himself with worry and fret. Added to everything else he was struggling with, this did him in. He admits that he had already resigned himself to the probability that his laptop was gone.
Our dear friends in New Zealand who own Treetops Estates told me about a terrible 50-year storm that almost sent a portion their world-class lodge from its hillside perch into the valley below. In May, a tremendous storm hit the “Land of the Great White Cloud” and smothered the North Island with so much rain that it closed many facilities, highways, and impacted some beautiful resorts.
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.
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.
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!”
After preparing the necessary weapons to defend themselves, Hezekiah encouraged the Israelites by saying, “Be strong and courageous! Don’t be afraid or discouraged because of the King of Assyria or his mighty army, for there is a power far greater on our side! He may have a great army, but they are merely men. We have the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles for us!”
A few years ago, we lost some great men and women when the Columbia Space Shuttle vaporized on its reentry from space. One of those individuals was Col. Mike Anderson, the second African-American astronaut. He looked at life with a unique spiritual insight. Col. Anderson was from Spokane, Washington and attended a little local Baptist church not far from our home.
With Bob on its back, the deer passed by his two astonished friends who were laughing out loud and evaluating Bob’s ability to stay on. While trying to keep his balance, all Bob could do was “hang on” to the antlers and ride it out. He knew that eventually, the animal would slow down enough for him to escape.