By Tom Wiles | For The Times-Post
The terrible storm raged for many days, blotting out the sun and the stars, until all hope was gone. — Acts 27:1-20
The fishing guide assured us the waves will calm in time.
The wind would be somewhat strong until it warmed up a little.
To this day, I have no idea whether or not that is typically true information.
That day, however, the wind kept coming and the waves kept rolling.
Unfortunately, my motion sickness kicked into full gear to join the waves.
There was no hope of me reeling in one more fish.
The only thing I could do was pray for the end to come.
Paul had told the crew and the soldiers to keep the ship docked for the winter.
Only trouble awaited them if they sailed on.
They ignored his warning. They were the professional sailors, not him.
In the end, they lost everything except their lives.
The local insurance branch wasn’t available to take their claim.
This storm resulted in a complete and catastrophic loss.
They did live, however, to tell about a God who gives hope when all hope is gone.
What do you do when you come to the end of your rope, when you’ve exhausted every possible resource, including yourself?
No solutions. No breakthroughs. No victory.
The only reality in view is a protracted struggle with no end in sight.
It’s that moment, when we have no fight left in us, where we are best positioned to hear God’s voice.
We can enter into the conversation or drown in bitterness, addiction, darkness or rage.
Oh, what a day of crushing defeat!…Judah’s defenses have been stripped away. You run to the armory for your weapons. You inspect the walls of Jerusalem. You store up water in the lower pool…But you never ask for help from the One who did all this. You never considered the One who planned this long ago. — Isaiah 22:5-11
Too many times I’ve sat across the table from my sweetheart in silence.
We’ve walked past one another speaking only perfunctory comments.
We’ve laid in bed in the darkness wide awake with a thick tension between us.
Who will be the first to apologize? Who will be willing to at least own their part of the ugly?
Stubbornness is a relational jackhammer that attacks the sacred bonds of marriage and all other relationships for that matter.
Over and over again in the Bible, as in our scripture for today, God confronts stubbornness. Specifically, his people’s stubbornness as it related to his instruction and will for them.
They tried anything and everything to solve their own problems except cry out to him for mercy.
Even in the face of his prophets telling them to stop and turn to him, they resisted and persisted in their stubbornness.
Today, too many people are stuck in their stubbornness.
They are so convinced of their understanding of the situation that they are simply unwilling to even have a conversation with others.
Regardless of where it is found, stubbornness steals.
It takes the life out of all that is to be life-giving particularly a relationship with Jesus.
Is there some stubbornness in your heart that needs to be rooted out?
Beginning to end
Asa did what was pleasing and good in the sight of the Lord his God… So, Asa’s kingdom enjoyed a period of peace… In the 36th year of Asa’s reign… Hanani the seer came to King Asa and told him, “Because you have put your trust in the king of Aram instead of the Lord your God, you missed your chance to destroy the army of the king of Aram… The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to him. What a fool you have been! From now on you will be at war.” — 2 Chronicles 14-16
As our eighth-grade shot-putter rounded the final turn during the 400-meter race, he was all alone.
The rest of the field had already finished.
Someone shouted that there was still one more runner coming.
As our guy hit the beginning of the last 100 meters, kids, coaches and spectators had gathered to urge him on.
Running for all he was worth, he crossed that line to deafening cheers worthy of one who had just set a world record. People, it seems, are inspired by finishers.
Out of the gate, King Asa was a superstar.
He sought God.
He led his entire nation into repentance and revival.
Peace reigned as God’s hand of blessing was upon him.
A million-man army came up against him. Outnumbered 2 to 1, he cried out in faith to God who gave him a great victory.
Decades later, another king began to threaten Asa.
His decision? He turned to an earthly king for help instead of God.
War and physical suffering followed.
Strong start. Horrible finish.
Hebrews 12:1 tells us we are running a race, too.
It started the day we put our faith in Jesus.
There are people cheering for us to run well now and to finish well later.
There are extra weights, like sin, that slow us down and need to be cast aside.
God has made each of our races unique to who he made us to be.
He has placed us in his story right now and on purpose.
There’s only one way to persevere to the end — keep our eyes on Jesus.
Tom Wiles is senior minister of Fall Creek Christian Church in Pendleton. He can be reached at 765-778-3166.