Tuesday, August 3rd, 2010

Your way was in the sea, and Your paths in the raging waters.

 Psalm 77:19

I was reading a newspaper story about a group of men who were among the very best white water kayakers in the world. It discussed the way that one of them went about taking on a set of rapids that were right at the top of the list of the world’s most dangerous. Before he entered the water, he walked along the shore and carefully considered every foot of that section of wildly unpredictable foaming water. He considered his approach to it and his line through every churning and twisting eddy and hole. He knew that once he entered the river he would have neither time nor clarity of vision to think through his reactions; then, he would have to rely on his experience, skill, and this preparation in order to survive.

How many of your days have contained qualities that were similar to this wildly untamed and out of control river? For myself, I’ve certainly known more than a few. One of the biggest challenges that I have seen in handling these days is that, unlike the white water adventure that I was reading about, these times are not usually planned; instead, they come out of nowhere. I can be enjoying a leisurely raft ride through life with its mild moments of attention getting turbulence; when, suddenly, the bottom seems to fall out of my life with a suddenness that makes may heart fly into my throat and causes my head to spin. This is the nature of living in this world, and these are also times when living in a relationship with Christ is essential to coming out victorious on the other side of the rapids.

In order to be ready for these inevitable times of engaging in the ultimate of wild rides, it is important to do just what the white water kayaker did. We should take the time to study the coarse, to know the dangers, to determine a path, and to meditate on our responses. These are all things that the Lord gives to us through continual and deep study of His word; for, the raging torrents of my life are also ones that others have navigated, and there is already a road map of righteous thinking and Christ-like actions set out for me to learn from. Also, like the expert kayaker, I need to be willing and able to trust in my own instincts while I am in the middle of the course. However, there is a vital difference in what he relies upon and what I have available to me, for my trust is placed in the ever present help of the mighty Spirit of God who never fails to show me the line and who is already the victor over all that tries to defeat me in this world.

Now, as for you, son of man, say to the house of Israel, ‘Thus you have spoken, saying, “Surely our transgressions and our sins are upon us, and we are rotting away in them; how then can we survive?” ‘

Ezekiel 33: 10

On many days this is a good picture of what living in this world can feel like. From the world news of hatred and oppression to the local environment of self-interest and lack of care or concern for basic decency and human dignity, this planet seems to be beset by the impacts of sin. I am not saying that I am able to sit back as a righteous observer of it all either, for I am saddened to admit that I have caused my own share of the sin fueled hurt and sadness in my world.

You see, this ancient plea for survival from the corrosive effects of evil is as real and as needful today as it was in the times of Ezekiel. Nothing much changes over time except for our modern ability to cause suffering at a far greater speed and over a much wider geographic area. Also, the antidote to the effects of what seems like an attack of flesh eating bacteria upon the minds, hearts, and souls of people hasn’t changed; modern science has not and will never discover a better response for us than the one that God established at the beginning of Creation.

We survive as a world, as a nation, and as people by and through our relationship with God; this is a relationship with God was secured by the sacrifice of Jesus, and its healing is engaged by individual acceptance of that sacrifice and by allowing Jesus, the Christ, to be Lord of my life. There is no other answer to the question of survival; yet, there is no more glorious way to live than in the Lord’s healing ward of grace and mercy.