Archive for May, 2013

God’s Dream Job

“Then they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress.” – Psalm 107:13 (NIV)

Rescued after ten years in bondage. The world has been watching with interest the developing story in Cleveland, Ohio where three girls have been rescued after having spent perhaps as long as the past decade in captivity in a house without the slightest suspicion of their bondage from the neighbors living in the area.

As the story unfolds and the truth emerges little by little, every loving, responsible person shudders at the thought of something like this happening to any child – particularly one of their own.

I’m fascinated by the actual details of the discovery of these girls and their rescue. It seems from one report that a neighbor passing by the house heard the cry for help from one of the girls who had managed to wedge a door open far enough to cry out and be heard. Obviously, once she was discovered, it didn’t take long for things to develop rapidly.

I’ve often reflected on how rewarding it might be to have been directly involved in a rescue operation like this. In this case, the girls who were found and freed will probably forever remember with gratitude those who first came to the scene and became the answer to their prayers.

A couple of years ago while doing my daily Bible reading I came across Psalm 107. It was one that I had not read in quite some time.  Even though it is a lengthy, ancient Psalm it speaks of the reality that behind every human rescue operation we find the hand of God.  He is the one who reaches down from heaven personally and rescues us humans who have gotten into trouble and distress.

If you look at the Psalm you will find four stanzas. Each one speaks of feats men and women have attempted through the ages. In each of the cases, people have fallen onto hard times – some through rebellion or foolishness, and others due to the natural consequences of life. In each case, when they cry to the Lord in their distress, He is there to rescue and lift them to a place of safety, security and blessing.

In reflection, I see that God has been the Great Rescuer in my own life – reaching down to bring me out of despair, even when I wasn’t fully awake to my lost-ness, but just cried out to Him for help.

When we hear stories such as the one in Ohio, we somehow think that rescue is pretty rare. I think it’s actually much more common than we realize. God’s been rescuing people for a long, long time. Of course, He uses other people in the process, just as He sent His own Son Jesus to be the ultimate Rescuer of Mankind.

We all have a picture in our mind’s eye about a dream job we’d like to have. I think God actually sees rescuing people as His dream job. He’s an expert at it and has been doing it for a long, long time.  

When we take sides with the Almighty God we join His plan of helping in His rescue operation for the precious souls of others. We may not always see as dramatic results as the story of these girls in Cleveland, but we can be sure we’re following the One who will come to the rescue when people cry out to Him from the heart.

Read Full Post »

“Dear brothers and sisters, when troubles come your way, consider it an opportunity for great joy. For you know that when your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow.” James 1:2-3 New Living Translation

I must admit that I don’t take to adversity very well. My normal reaction to the challenges of life that come my way is often, “WHY is this happening to me?” or  “What did I do to deserve this?”

Some adversity in life comes suddenly and without warning. Like an unexpected accident or the sudden death of a close family member. Sometimes we bring adversity on ourselves by making poor choices or even facing a challenge by taking appropriate risk or exercising courage.

Just recently I’ve been taking a weekly half-hour swimming class which is meant to develop a higher level of fitness by swimming vigorous laps around the pool wearing fins. This class in “Fin Fitness” has taught me a lot about facing resistance and developing strength and endurance.

Each week,  before class begins I start wondering why I agreed put myself through the gauntlet. Everyone who has been involved in the class sees the benefits because the exercise is so intense. The small group of my classmates are younger, fitter and better swimmers than yours truly and it’s a huge challenge keeping up with them  – a task I’ve been unable to accomplish so far.

When the class is over and relief sets in I’m joyful that I stuck it out. I then experience the benefits that come from facing the challenge and finding the endurance to persevere.  Hopefully strength, fitness, flexibility and endurance will be physical benefits I will enjoy not to mention the emotional well being that is part of the process.

Whatever the test or trial might be I often wonder if our state of mind is the critical factor in it all. Is there a mindset that will help us on a day to day basis that will carry us through as we courageously face  the challenges that come our way?

In the book of James in the New Testament, the author makes some very startling statements, especially about trials and suffering. One of the better known verses, quoted above, instructs the reader to actually consider trials and tests as joyful opportunities for personal growth.

James does say that if our faith is tested, endurance has a chance to grow. When you consider it, in many areas of life we don’t get very far without meeting resistance head on.

Whatever challenge you may be facing today take a close look at your attitude toward it.  Remember that James is addressing followers of Jesus in the first century. Jesus Christ is the one who faced the adversity of the Cross and all that it entailed, yet came through victorious. Not only is He our Savior but our example of facing adversity courageously and with an eternal perspective.

 Although I don’t like to admit it, in a world full of adversity there’s probably nothing that will build strength and endurance except facing resistance with a positive attitude and an eternal perspective.  

Read Full Post »

%d bloggers like this: