Hi, this is pastor Ken and these are my thoughts on a Thursday…a firm foundation.
A few days ago I was relaying a story from my teenage years to illustrate a point having to do with living our lives with an understanding that in Christ we stand on a firm foundation. But we don’t always give that the recognition we should.
When I was in high school I lived in Western New York State. Our home was in a rural farming community just 6 miles from the shore of Lake Ontario, the eastern most of the great lakes. My youth group leader lived on the shore of the lake and in the summer time He and His wife would allow the entire youth group to descend on their property and picnic and go water skiing on the lake in front of their home. The shores of Lake Ontario are incredibly rocky and so boats are rarely launched from people’s homes to avoid striking the propellers on the stones in the often shallow waters near the shoreline. There, boats are usually launched from places expressly designated for that purpose. The boat launch nearest our youth group leaders home was several miles away.
While we were all having fun skiing and hanging out in the boat one afternoon, a police boat came alongside and after a careful count decided we had one too many people for the size of the boat. Because I had already been skiing as well as wanting to look cool in front of the girls both in the boat and on shore, without asking anyone I announced I would swim to shore to keep from having to run the boat all the way back to the dock several miles away. Though shore was several hundred yards off, without any further discussion I jumped into the water and began swimming toward shore and the kids on the boat now within the prescribed capacity resumed water skiing.
I swam for what seemed an eternity and yet each time I looked up the shore though getting closer was still a long way off. I continued to swim until I felt that my arms would take me no further. Still being many hundreds of feet from shore I devised a plan while I swam what I believed were the last few strokes I could muster. My brilliant plan was that I would take a deep breath, sink to the bottom, rest my arms for about a minute and then kick up to the surface and continue swimming. That seemed like the only viable plan at the time still being so far from shore.
I took that deep breath, inhaling as much air as I could and prepared to sink to rest on the bottom. To my amazement and admittedly some embarrassment when I came to rest, feet firmly on the bottom of the lake I was standing barely waist deep in water! I had been swimming furiously and in an exhausted state probably for several minutes when I could have been comfortably walking on the bottom, my head safely above the water!
I knew the bottom of the lake existed when I jumped over the side of the boat and began swimming. I was aware it was there the whole time I was swimming. I knew it was firm and would be able to support me. I simply didn’t believe it to be so near me in my time of need and so I continued to fight forward under my own strength when it was completely unnecessary to do so. Sometimes I think this is our plight as Christ followers. We know Jesus is there, we even understand He has the ability to uphold us, but we fail to realize He is so close when we need Him and as a result we struggle under our own power far too long.
These days I am much older, and at least a little wiser, and I have not found myself jumping off of any boats lately. I am sure that if I had not been so hasty to show off my strength and bravado, but rather had let the boat take me a little closer to shore, I could have easily walked on firm footing from the start. Sure there would be no story to tell all these years later, if only that were the case. When I look back at my walk with Jesus I can see that there have been a lot of unnecessary struggles. There have been too many times when I tried to do things in my own power when Jesus really wanted me to rely on Him and His power to see me through.
As a counselor, when I encounter people who are broken and hurting and yet still trying to manage their struggles as best they can, my heart breaks for them. Many times I know them to be honest Christ followers. They are aware that Christ is their rock and yet they are not expecting that He desires to be what supports and empowers them. Maybe they think God cares about the big stuff but not their problems. Maybe they are too embarrassed to bring their concerns to Him. Maybe they are ashamed that they are seemingly forever struggling with the same difficulties. Whatever the reason, we all at times don’t choose to rest on Christ our firm foundation soon enough.
Galatians 2:20 one of my favorite scriptures says;I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me. Christ wants us to live in victory over this life’s struggles, that is one of the reasons He came to die for us. As we learn to live in victory over sin and death, we should be experiencing the freedom that firm foundation of faith affords us. We can live victoriously in our families, our marriages and all of our other interpersonal relationships as we allow Christ to live through us. Jesus would not have any difficulty living at peace with any of those people we have so much trouble with. If that is true…and it is…then Christ living in us should be able to teach us to obtain the same result. What is the key? Recognizing that Christ lives in us, has the power to overcome and wants to teach us how to access that power in Him.
Then Jesus said, “Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light.” Matthew 11:28-30 (New Living Translation) Jesus is your firm foundation, He wants to support you in all of life’s struggles, He wants to teach all of us how to act just like Him in every situation. We can’t do it on our own…we should know that by now. With man these things are impossible, but with God all things are possible. (Matthew 19:26)
So now, recognizing that Christ is the firm ever present foundation and Jesus wants you to lean on Him to help you in all of your struggles, lean in close to Him…and Go Be Awesome!