… and the rest, some on boards and some on parts of the ship. And so it was that they all escaped safely to land. – Acts 27:44 (NKJV)
As the ship faced the wrath of tempestuous head wind, Euroclydon, everyone in the ship lost their hope. It had been nearly two weeks since they saw sun or even a star, and they had no idea where they were. Amidst all those who had lost hope, Paul stood like a light shining in the dark, and declared that they all would be saved; not one man would lose his life. And he proclaimed, “I believe in God, and it shall be even as it was told me.” (Acts 27:25)
The Word came from God and it was believed by the man of God, and soon it came to fruition. Except not in the way we would describe as the majestic manner in which God delivers those who trust Him. The Bible says that some of them held on to boards and others to broken pieces from the ship and escaped.
How often in our life we have faced such circumstances? We were in a very tiring situation and the Lord gives His Word to us. That He would deliver us from evil. That He would not let us be ashamed because we put our trust in Him. That before the eyes of our enemies, He would exalt us, and show to them that He is with us and He loves us. And we are jubilant, waiting for that moment of great glory to come, where the Lord in His majesty, comes down from the Heavens, lifts us from our troubles and anoints us before our enemies.
But nothing of that sort happens. As we are waiting for the mighty arm of the Lord to appear, we see some wooden boards, some broken pieces passing by. Of course, we could take hold of them and reach land safely. But did not the Lord promise great things? Nah, these broken pieces and boards are for mere mortals. Not for the righteous who lives by faith. I will not use such mundane means to escape; no, no, I have suffered so much to escape in such a whimpering fashion. Let those broken pieces and boards pass. See the salvation of God. I wait. I wait. I am waiting. I am still waiting. I am wondering why God has not delivered me yet. Now, I am waiting, but confused. I am waiting, but my faith is shaken. A little. Okay, a lot. Now, there are doubts in my heart. Did I misunderstand what the Lord told me? Or did God lie to me? No, no, He does not lie. Have I lost something in the translation? I am wondering.
But as I wait with tired eyes, all I see are more boards and broken pieces. And a still voice telling my heart, “This is the way out. Grab it.” But I refuse. It cannot be the voice of the Almighty. It has to be the devil, trying to deceive me. I know that the Lord will deliver me in a spectacular fashion. That will shut the mouths of all my enemies. That will vindicate all my silent suffering.
Yet, all I see is more and more boards and broken pieces of wood, and that voice still telling me, “Grab it. Don’t ignore the little things that God, in His infinite wisdom, has provided you.” Now slowly, I realize that it is the Spirit of God talking to me. But, then, what about all the promises? Yes, they are still there, safe in Christ Jesus. They are “Yes” and “Amen” in my Savior and Redeemer. Then how come I have to be delivered in such a prosaic manner?
Then the Lord teaches me that lesson I must have learned long back. My faith must never feed my ego. My faith must make me humble. My faith must not fill me with pride. All those spectacular escapes I was dreaming about, those were to satisfy my ego, not for the glory of my Father. I was waiting for them, because my pride wanted such a great show for me, not for the Son of God Who loved and gave His life for me.
Oh, somewhere along being filled with faith, I have fallen prey to the oldest sin – pride. The broken pieces of ship represent what I have to be. The ship, though majestic and grand, could not take me to the land safely. But when it is broken into pieces, one of the smallest pieces is all God needs to fulfil His promise for me, and it will take me home safely.
When I am full of myself, like that ship, I may falter in reaching the destination. But when I am broken, tossed around by the wind and the waves, I know that I will reach the shore safely; and I will also help someone else to reach safely, by just hanging on to me.
Oh Lord, break me into broken pieces, so that my pride sinks in this sea. Break me, so that I can learn humility. Break me, so that You can fulfil Your promise and Your Name alone be glorified. In Jesus’s Name, I ask, Amen.
Shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? – Job 2:10 (JPS)
As I wrote yesterday in my blog, I was pleasantly surprised by the blessing that the Lord gave me. But something else happened, that disquieted me. After the phone call, we were about to start our morning prayers, and clearly I and my wife were very nervous. How would the day be? Would I be able to travel for a whole day? How about eating out? We were very nervous and even thought of asking our cousin to postpone the trip. Then as we started to pray, something happened.
Suddenly the Spirit of the LORD moved us to realize our errors. Say, if the LORD has given a severe affliction yesterday, like I had to endure last year, what would have we done? We would have accepted it as a lesson that the Lord is teaching us, that He would give enough grace and strength to go through the trial, we would have praised Him for considering us worthy to stand such a trial and we would have thanked Him for the lesson He taught us using the trial. Yes, we would have accepted the evil from the hand of God, because we know His loving hand is behind the rod that chastens us.
But the moment a blessing comes our way, something good comes our way, we are wary of so many things that could go wrong. Our attitude is so tuned out, that till we started praying and the Holy Spirit made us realize, we did not understand that this good, this blessing is also from the same loving hand of our Father. That He may choose this very blessing to teach a valuable lesson to us. That He would give enough grace and strength to go through the day. That if I praised Him for the affliction, then I must praise Him more than ever for this blessing; thank Him that He considered this poor man’s prayer and is showing me a favor that I do not deserve; that even in this blessing, the good Teacher has a way to teach His lessons.
Yes, the Lord rules over everything – both good and bad; whatever reaches you, who is under His mighty arm, reaches you only because God our Father allows it; whatever we receive, an affliction or a blessing, it is only because our Lord and Redeemer Jesus Christ has given us enough grace to sustain, to endure without falling.
So, for the last one year, the Lord taught me that He is the Ruler over everything and whatever He allows in my life is aimed at my sanctification and edification; but my mind has taken it only for the afflictions and trials. Yesterday the LORD corrected my learning. God our Lord is the Ruler of EVERYTHING. And, if we humble ourselves, we can always learn from our blessings as well as from our afflictions. True devotion is not only accepting evil from God, like Job did; but also accepting the two-fold blessing in an equanimous manner, just like Job did. Amen.
When I am afraid, I will trust in You. – Psalm 56:3 (NIV)
When I am afraid, it is easy for my soul to take the path of least resistance. There are many things that can calm my nerves. I can watch a serial or a movie, which will help me to forget my fears – for time being. If I am suffering pain, hey, there are pain killers which will alleviate the intensity of the pain. There are so many things like these. But, then the pain comes back. The hurt that is deep within is still fresh after binge watching a serial or movies. The wounds have not healed. When there is a sign of distress, I am afraid and I want to take refuge in one of the few things that will give temporary relief.
But how long can I go on like this? How long I have to live in this fear? How long am I going to allow the wounds of my past to dictate the life I am living today? How many more times I am going to let the failures of past to decide on my plans for the future? Unless the root of my fear is identified and is completely obliterated from my memory, I am going to be afraid often.
Yes, after everything else fails, I do tell this verse. Whenever I am afraid, I will trust in You. But by now, along with my fears, I also know that I am saying it by memory. I don’t mean it anymore. I trust in the Lord, but not when my fears take the “rational thinking” route. God is my last Refuge. Come to Him when nothing can quench your fear.
Though I give Him the last place when I am afraid, His grace is so much, that He never pushes me to the last place. My Father in Heaven knows my fears. My Saviour and His Son, Who is seated at our Father’s right hand, knows what fear is. Yes, the High Priest I have knows what agony means. Jesus Christ is there to intercede. The Spirit of God is praying for me, as I have no idea what to pray for.
Now my fear is being quelled; my heart beat is becoming normal. I still do not know the root cause of my fears, and it scares me. It scares me, because I am worried that I may, yet again, give my Father last place, when my fear comes to haunt me. I know I will, for I have done it before. As I sit there worried, the Spirit of God moves in my heart, in a mighty way.
“Don’t stop with trusting Him. Show your trust in your actions”, He keeps telling me. I tell the Spirit of God, “Yes, yes, see my actions. I am not afraid anymore.” But deep in my heart, I am still scared. I just was hoping that the Lord Who knows all things might miss my fears. But the Spirit of the Lord is gentler than I have understood. In a gentle way, He keeps reminding me that my actions must not be the actions of this world, but actions of the Word. I am confused. Very confused, till He Himself leads me to the next verse.
I trust in God. I praise His Word. – Psalm 56:4 (NIRV)
“Praise His Word. Praise His promises. Praise the Lord for all the promises He has given you. Don’t worry about the wounds. Don’t worry about the failures of the past. Don’t you worry about the fear that is sneaking around. Praise His Word. Show your trust in God by your actions. Praise Him”, commands the Holy Spirit.
Now I open my mouth. My lips are sealed together. My throat is parched. I am still scared. My words are nothing but mere mumbles. It feels like a travesty is being enacted. But the Spirit of God says, “It is okay. Your Father knows your fears. Your Brother is interceding for you. They know what is in your heart. Just keep going.”
As I try further and further to praise His Word, suddenly Life enters my soul. My voice is back. Tears flow for no reason at all. As I praise more of His Word, I don’t know what the wounds are, but I can feel them being healed. As I praise the Lord for His promises, the fear of past failures repeating again in my life, they vanish in thin air. Even now, I know the fear is lurking somewhere, waiting for a chance to show its ugly head. But all that fear is gone, when I hear the heavenly hosts join along with me in praising His Word. And suddenly I realize that His Word is Jesus Christ Himself. And all the promises are “yes” and “amen” in Him. Yes, I will praise Him more and more. I will praise the Lord our Father, for providing me His Son. And all my fears are conquered. I will trust in You, Lord and I will praise Your Word all the time.