This past week, Sue and I caught up with an old friend whom we’ve not seen for around 25 years! It was a breath of fresh air. Some friends are like that. You simply pick up where you’ve left off. One of the things we discussed was pension! We couldn’t believe our ears but the other thing we talked about was friends we know who are divorced and/or not walking with the Lord. All of them used to be influential leaders whom many looked up to. What happened to them?
Like all of us, they encountered storms, and occasionally, full-fledged hurricanes. Nothing unusual. However, in my observation, each one of them was a ‘self-made’ Christian, i.e. their faith was ultimately not in God but in their will power to stay afloat. Consequently, their approach to God had a strong transactional ‘flavour’ to it. “God, if I do this, then you are obligated to do such and such”. Overtime, they slowly drifted (without knowing it) until they shipwrecked their faith.
In his book, ‘Six Hours One Friday’, Max Lucado tells the story of how a piece of advice he took from an experienced sea man helped him survive a hurricane in his boat. The old man told Max to take his boat to deep water, drop four anchors off each corner of the boat, and pray that the anchors would hold. Through it, he learned an important lesson: all of us need an anchor that will hold during the storms of life. That anchor is our faith in God.
To his readers who found it extremely hard going being a Christian, Peter sought to remind them of this, “In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little you may have had to suffer grief in all kinds of trials. These have come so that your faith – of greater worth than gold, which perishes even though refined by fire – may be proved genuine and may result in praise, glory and honour when Jesus Christ is revealed. Though you have not seen him, you love him; even though you do not see him now, you believe in him and are filled with an inexpressible and glorious joy, for you are receiving the goal of your faith, the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).
Jeff Bridges in his book, ‘Is God really in control? – Trusting God in a world of hurt’, posits that if our faith in God is to grow rather than shrivel in hard times, the three anchors, the three truths that we must drop off each corner of our ‘boat’ are:
· God is completely sovereign (read Prov 16:9, 19:21, Eccl 7:13, Lam 3:37, James 4:15)
· God is infinite in wisdom (read Is 55:8-9, Ps 104:24, Jer 10:12, Rom 11:33)
· God is perfect in his love (read Is 43:1-4, 54:10,Ps 32:10, 1 John 4:8-10, Rom 8:31-39)
Spurgeon in his sermon on God’s divine providence said, “Providence is wonderfully intricate. Ah! You want always to see through Providence, do you not? You never will, I assure you. You have not eyes good enough, You want to see what good that affliction was to you; you must believe it. You want to see how it can bring good to the soul; you may be enabled in a little time; but you cannot see it now; you must believe it. Honor God by trusting him”.
“Grow our faith in you Lord in hard times!”