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.
One of the reasons I left Los Angeles was the traffic. It is unreal. I knew sitting in traffic like that was going to slowly drive me bonkers. So, it’s no surprise that a new study found that LA is the world’s most traffic-clogged city:
“Drivers in the region spent 104 hours each driving in congestion during peak travel periods last year. That topped second-place Moscow at 91 hours and third-place New York at 89, according to a traffic scorecard compiled by Inrix, a transportation analytics firm.”
While you may not find yourself spending 104 hours in traffic this year, it may feel like it. So, what are you going to do with all that wasted time?
Here are just a few ways to make that time count!
Pray: pray for the drivers around you, the cops enforcing the law, and that teenager who just passed you while texting. Prayer is the real deal. Pray more, worry less.
K-LOVE: listen to that Praise Music! Ain’t no reason you can’t be worshiping the Living God while stuck on I-79. (Dancing, of course, is optional).
Podcasts/CD’s: There are a plethora (a word I honestly believe no one would ever know if it weren’t for ¡Three Amigos!) of resources available today. There are few reasons not to be listening to 1 sermon every single day. FEW! Start at oneplace.com (it has a lot of sermons, you guessed it: in one place).
I’m pretty sure this is not what the Holy Spirit had in mind, but man, does it seem appropriate: what was meant for evil, God can use for good (Gen.50:20). Am I calling traffic evil? Yes. Yes, I am. Use it for good!
Oh, and by the way – those who bemoan living in little ole West Virginia, here is another fun fact this study revealed:
“Of 240 U.S. cities studied by Inrix, drivers in Parkersburg, W.Va., spent the least about of time stuck in traffic during peak hours at three hours per year.”
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.
When I was little, I was scared of quicksand. I was absolutely certain I was going to fall into some quicksand and never get out. I don’t have facts on this, but I’m pretty sure there isn’t even any quicksand in West Virginia. Anyways, try telling that to a 10 year old.
Anyone who has ever seen a Western or Indiana Jones, can tell you – don’t struggle! It will only make you sink faster! If you just remain calm, you may have more of a chance… to find a rope, or branch, or call out for help, or something.
2 Cor. 12:9-10 tells us that God’s Grace is sufficient. His power is made perfect in our weakness. Boast happily in your weaknesses and then the Power of God may rest upon you. If that doesn’t make your heart burst in praise, I don’t know what will. The weaker you are, the easier it is for God to jump in and blow that hardship out of the water? Sign me up!
Tenth Avenue North has a song called, “The Struggle.” It has a line that really resonates with my wife and I. “We are free to struggle, We’re not struggling to be free.”