Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Sink or Swim?

Imagine the scene.

We're in the movie theater. We settle into our seats. The lights go low. The aroma of melted butter over popcorn fills our nostrils. Our fingers are already greasy.

The movie starts and life is grand.

Excitement builds as each character preparing to set sail finally leaves the shore. The sun shines on their smiling faces. They are excited. They are happy.

We avert our eyes momentarily from the screen to our popcorn bucket. WHAM! What happened? We jerk our head back up and watch intensely as the boat is tossed on the ocean waves. Suddenly, and without warning, our favorite movie character is thrown from the boat deck and plunges into the cold, raging sea. This person, just minutes ago, so strong and sure, now is nothing more than a helpless ragdoll. No longer in control, they are at the mercy of the storm.

Our movie character calls out, desperate for help. Thrashing against the forceful waters, trying to swim, it's no use. The angry water is just too strong. They are exhausted.

Determined not to sink and be swallowed up, they gather their thoughts long enough to look around themselves. Is there anything to hold onto? Anything at all that might keep them afloat? Yes! There! Struggling with all they have left in them, they manage to reach far enough to grasp a piece of debris from the wreckage. They hang on. Their life depends on it. There, they ride out the storm.

They can't swim.

They won't sink.

They hold on.

They will ride it out.

To survive they need time. They need mercy. They need grace.

The screen goes black.

INTERMISSION.



As you approach the restroom to wash your buttery hands your thoughts are still in the sea. Everything in you hopes that your movie character will make it. You find yourself hoping that they don't give up, that they hold tight to their piece of wreckage and do not let go. You understand that the water is too strong for them to swim. And you know that they don't want the water to swallow them up. You see clearly that they have no other choice. They can only hold on and ride it out.

Is that okay?

Of course it is. They have no other choice.

Let's imagine for a moment that the above story happened in the spirit realm, not the earthly. In the bible, Romans 1:20 says, "For ever since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through His workmanship [all His creation, the wonderful things that He has made], so that they [who fail to believe and trust in Him] are without excuse and without defense. (AMP)

In simple words, we understand things in the natural first, and after, how it applies to our spiritual walk. For example: God gives us marriage in our natural, earthly lives to teach us about our spiritual marriage to Himself. (We are the bride of Christ) (Rev 19:7-9)

So I ask...why?

Why, when we ourselves are in a storm, being tossed and thrown like a ragdoll in the sea, unable to swim, and refusing to sink,

why do we see it as weakness if we just hold on? Why?

We need time. We need mercy. And we need grace. Just like the movie character. What's different?

Nothing.

But we view ourselves (or others who are in a storm) with disdain and disappointment that we (they) are not doing better than we're (they're) doing. Most of us think we (they) should be trying to swim our (their) way to shore. After all, being a christian, with God on our side, we (they) should be strong enough to swim the raging seas, right?

Most of us don't want to sink. Something keeps us going, even if our only choice is to hang on and ride it out.

I once heard a pastor say, "when someone is sinking they don't want you to throw them a bunch of nice sounding scriptures. They want you to throw them a lifejacket."

I will take that one step further and say, "some of us need the assurance that you are there if we need you, but be given the time and space to ride it out ourselves."

Countless times I have been where this movie character has been. I have been one who has held on, hoping to ride out the storm. I have learned through these experiences that it is often best not to flail and struggle. And I have learned the answer is not to let go and sink. I have learned to hang on. To ride out the storm.

I have also learned that it is most often better if I do not cry out for help from those still aboard. People generally mean well. Their intentions are good. They want to help. But like Job's friends they don't have the right answers. They say things that most often end up causing you to feel more defeated than you already view yourself as being.

On the other hand, I have learned that if I am the one still aboard, I need to be very careful what I say (if anything) to the one who is in the water, hanging on. One wrong word or attitude could easily cause them to let go and sink. Likewise, it could also cause them to become angry and hostile against God.

People are sensitive souls. We need to treat them as such.

One of my favorite scripture verses is Psalm 121: 1-2. "I look up to the hills, but where will my help really come from? My help will come from the Lord, the Creator of heaven and earth."

"To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose under the heaven." (Eccl 3) (vs 1) "a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing" (vs 5) "a time to keep silence, and a time to speak" (vs 7)

"Everything you say should be kind and well thought out so that you know how to answer everyone." (Col 4:6)




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