Straining at Rowing

spruce island lake davis wv kayak

I took Mary kayaking this weekend. Typical of a 2-year old, she wanted to “do it myself!” Needless to say, we didn’t get very far and she ended up pretty frustrated. Truth be told, she was a hot mess and I apologize to anyone who was expecting a peaceful afternoon on the water, but was instead subject to a full-blown temper tantrum that I’m sure was heard far and wide.

I kept thinking: If she would just relax and let her father do the rowing, we could have fun zipping all over that lake. Instead, she huffed & puffed and sweated & cried. Instead of going somewhere, we went nowhere. Instead of fun, it was… torturous. I was reminded of the disciples on the Sea of Galilee.

“Then He saw them STRAINING AT ROWING, for the wind was against them. Now about the fourth watch of the night He came to them, walking on the sea, and would have passed them by.” – Mark 6:48 (NKJV) [Emphasis mine.]

“Straining” doesn’t do that Greek word justice. Basanizó literally means TORTURING.

They were literally torturing themselves by not relying on Jesus! Likewise, you and I are literally torturing ourselves by not relying on Jesus too.

Whenever we try to earn our salvation by being a “good person,” we are straining at the oars. Whenever we try to save ourselves with religious rituals, we are straining at the oars. Whenever we try to do ANY of the rowing, we will inevitably be straining at the oars.

Thinking you have anything to do with your redemption is the opposite of the gospel. Paul says that teaching telling you otherwise is not even a gospel; it is distorted and accursed, twice! (Gal. 1:7-9) Listen: we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, by His blood, through faith. Period. (Rom. 3:24-25)

We are all in a tempestuous sea. The wind is against us. No matter how furiously we strain, ROWING IN OUR OWN STRENGTH will never get us to shore. Aren’t you tired of rowing in circles? Aren’t you tired of torturing yourself? Jesus can easily step in if we would only let Him. He calms the sea, silences the wind, and gets us safely to the other side.

But we must first hand the oars over to Him.

Let God help you.


Endless Love Given To All

blackwater falls, mrpatvincent, Holy Spirit, patrick vincent
Blackwater Falls, Davis, WV

Did you know one of the Holy Spirit’s roles is to show you how much God loves you?

the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us. – Romans 5:5

First, I like that it is 5:5, that’s easy to remember for people like me who are number-aversive (an ailment I just made up but I think is pretty legit).

God has endless love and He desires to pour it into our lives.

That sounds obvious because we take it for granted. Just think, the opposite could equally be true:

  • God has endless hate & He desires to pour hate into our lives.
  • God has endless love yet He is stingy & hoards it.
  • God has limited love & has to be careful to whom He gives it.

No, here’s the reality: ENDLESS LOVE GIVEN TO ALL.

All who come to Him.

The foolish heart that doesn’t come to him obviously cannot receive. God will not force-feed His love to anyone. It is a sign of tremendous love that God allows some hearts to close their mouths tight.

I’ve seen this technique firsthand by Mary with peas. It is very effective.

If she doesn’t want those peas, her lips clamp shut like a steel trap & ain’t nothing prying them open! I want her to have the peas. They are good & good for her. But she has made up her mind. So, no peas!

Is your heart open or closed?

Love is poured into our hearts. Poured like a magnificent waterfall. Why is it that we love to watch waterfalls? Every year we go to Blackwater Falls in Davis, WV. We drive down there just to look at it. The falls are mesmerizing. They are soothing. Even the roaring of the water is pleasant… loud! but, pleasant.

The pouring of God’s love is like that waterfall. It will never run out. It will never be withheld.

The more room in your heart, the more room for God’s love. Is your heart crowded by the cares of this world? How much room is there for God’s love?

The widow’s oil stopped when she ran out of jars (2 Kings 4). If she would have had more jars, she would have received more oil. It’s up to us how much of God’s love gets poured into our hearts. You’ll only get as much as there is room.

It doesn’t end with our heart. We receive to overflowing. We share that overflow with others. At first the Holy Spirit is the Divine Dispenser, but we get to redistribute God’s love too.

Get out there and do it!