One of my favorite places on our church campus is the field behind the gym and next to the Children’s Center. The reason it’s so special to me is that it’s the place I go to walk, pray and process both good and bad news with God. Through the years, I’ve had multiple opportunities to get out on those glorious blades of grass and prayerfully evaluate what my response will be to the storm that God has allowed into my life.
I don’t know about the process of evaluation you go through when a storm hits, but I can tell you that the very first thing my mind turns to is resources, and I think, “Do I have enough of them to meet the challenge at hand?” If I conclude I do, then I tend to be calmer; if I conclude I don’t, I tend to be more anxious. I am sorry to say that I usually respond to storms by looking first at what I have before looking at God and what He has. But I can tell you God is growing me.
For those of us who start first by looking at our resources when a storm hits, this account is very challenging because the crew actually ends up getting rid of some very important things that provide a good sense of security. Verse 32 tells us they get rid of their lifeboats. Verse 38 tells us they get rid of their wheat. But they don’t get rid of them for no reason. They get rid of them in response to a promise that Paul receives from an Angel of God. Let me say that again – they get rid of these things in response to a promise from God. Somewhere along the line, they make a crucial decision to trust in the God who can save them and not in the things which cannot. As their focus shifts, their perspective does too, and they are able to assess the needfulness of these items. As they do, they decide the things aren’t as important as once thought. Storms clarify.
Now one thing that is not lost on me is this – I am quite sure the next time these sailors get on a boat, there are lifeboats and wheat. It isn’t like they decide they never need these things again. But what I’m hoping happens is they see them in their proper context. And I’m hoping the same is true for us. There are things we may tend to put our trust in as we go through storms, things that are not God. And as He leads us, it might become very clear we need to throw those things overboard, as it were, because we realize they can’t help us and that only He can. But then, later on, He may give those things back to us. If and when He does, our challenge is to remember that they are still of no real value and that we must keep our hearts and minds fixed on Him, even being prepared to throw them overboard again, if need be.
Today, spend some time thinking about the last storm you went through. Were there things you had to throw overboard? Has God given them back? Are you inadvertently shifting faith and focus from Him to them? Now is a great time to reaffirm your trust in Him, while maintaining thankfulness and perspective concerning the resources He’s given.
Connection and Growth Pastor