Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Do you feel stranded in the middle of Lake Erie?

When I was in grade school my friend Becky and I went to an awesome Bible camp for a week. For two years we made the trek to Camp Patmos on Kelly’s Island. I’m not much of a camper by nature. Those that know me know that my idea of camping is a Holiday Inn. But Camp Patmos was different, it’s a Baptists camp in its affiliation and we were in chapel three times a day. Being that it was on Kelly’s Island which is in Lake Erie it was more of a water sports camp. In order to even get to the camp: we were dropped off in Sandusky, took a ferry, and then we driven across the island. We could go: swimming in the lake, they had motor boats we got to ride on, every year we’d have a camp wide shaving cream fight, and there was sail boating too. Every year we went we enjoyed ourselves.

One year Becky and I decided that we really wanted to go sailing. The day was beautiful, and in order for them to let you take a sailboat you had to find an adult. So we started asking around to see if anyone would take us. We finally found someone who was there with her church group. We assumed that she must know how to sail, and that between the three of us we’d figure it out. If you haven’t realized this about me, I’m kind of a jump into something whether I know how to do it or not type of person. In this instance that wasn’t a good thing.

We got out on the water and at first it was good. The weather was picturesque. It was as if the heavens kissed the tips of the water for our enjoyment. Then the inevitable happened. We realized that no one in the boat knew how to sail. Worse yet, the shore was no longer visible, and the adult we were with started to panic. The wind would not cooperate. We kept trying to catch the wind and nothing was happening. We didn’t have a choice but to wait. We were sure somehow someone would miss us, and if they didn’t they’d at least miss the boat. The minutes turned to hours. We waited.

Finally we could hear a speed boat on the horizon. The camp started patrolling the waters looking for us. The plan was that the adult would get on the motor boat while the other councilor in the boat would sail us back to shore. When they were transferring the adult into the motor boat, we discovered something very important that Becky and I neglected to find out before. The lady started totally freaking out. She was struggling getting herself into the boat, and that was when we learned that this mystery woman who was supposed to be the one responsible couldn’t swim. She starts shaking, and I wasn’t sure at that moment she could get in that motorboat.

Eventually the shift was made, and the councilor was able to sail us back to shore. According to him, who was an expert sailor, it was the worse day that we could have even thought about coming out to sail. The wind was not right for it, and for even and expert sailor he had quite the difficulty getting us back to the camp. He had to keep going further down the coast than he wanted to in order to cut back around and get us there.

There are times in life when we’ve all been in similar shoes. We realize that we’ve missed God a bit in a situation. We realize that maybe we should have found out the one in charge couldn’t swim before we get her lost in the middle of Lake Erie. We realize that our choices weren’t the greatest. Maybe we get ahead of God in a situation, or maybe it was never His will in the first place for us to do something. It’s easy to be in the middle of that situation and begin to freak out like that lady back at the boat. It’s easy to find ourselves standing on a sailboat in the waters of life and look around to see if anyone has noticed that you’re missing. It’s easy to cry out when you see circumstances being different then what you thought they should be and wonder “Where is God anyway?”

I want to assure you with the words from Romans 8:31-38, “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Who shall bring a charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is he who condemns? It is Christ who died, and furthermore is also risen, who is even at the right hand of God, who also makes intercession for us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written: “ For Your sake we are killed all day long;We are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.” Yet in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us. For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

God loves you and is right there with you in the midst of our own mistakes. I am amazed sometimes at the lies people believe about God. They think, God does not love his children all the time. He only loves them when their perfect. He’s not setting up in heaven ready to bounce you on the head when you mess up. That’s just silliness. For those of you who are parents do you stop loving your kids when they mess up? No. You want them to learn from their mistakes. I promise you that the above story made me learn. Next time I’ll make sure the person whose taking me sailing can sail, or maybe I’ll learn to sail myself.

God makes a promise in The Word Deuteronomy 31:8 says, “And the LORD, He is the One who goes before you. He will be with you, He will not leave you nor forsake you; do not fear nor be dismayed.” I found this same phrase of God never leaving you or forsaking you at least 7 other time in the Bible. I think if God meant that He’d never leave you or forsake you.

Circumstances can sometimes stink, and make you question if you really heard from God. Circumstances can be like the windless sail as we sat out on that sailboat waiting for help. Circumstances can be the adult freaking out because she can’t swim. But God took care of it all. He got our feet back on solid ground. He’ll do the same for you. He’ll calm the storm around you just keep trusting in Him. He has good plans for you! Keep trusting in Him! Don’t give up! You’ll see the shore on the horizon, and you’ll have a testimony to tell.

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