Archive for the ‘Rescue’ Category

“Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, ‘Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?’ He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, ‘Quiet! Be still!’ Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.” Mark 4:38-39 (NIV)

The storms of life always seem to take us by surprise and set us back.

We are nearly into the final month of 2014 and I can already think of several story lines in my own life and family that didn’t “turn out” the way I wanted them to so far this year.

If we’re honest we have to admit that we live in a world that doesn’t really turn out as we “expect it to.” We have dreams, goals and aspirations that seldom come to fruition as we intended and they can often be derailed by forces outside of our control.

One day in the first century the disciples of Jesus found themselves in a boat on the Sea of Galilee with a sleeping Savior. A storm blew in and they became fearful and hostile. They tried furiously to get the water out of the boat to save themselves while their Lord and Leader continued to sleep.

You might say they were more than disappointed in the Man who told them a few minutes earlier that they were going “to the other side” of the lake.

We can easily get into a major panic when storms blow into our lives. When it comes to my problems I would rather fight the storm than sleep in it. We’re really disappointed that the day, the month the year or the decade isn’t working out the way we wanted it to.

I’m sure in that moment of despair the disciples felt –

“I am all alone here and on my own.”

“I’m virtually invisible, no one else sees or cares.”

“I have to do it all myself.”

This is living in the “unreality” that I am the center of my own world. If I am in control then I have very much to fear. We can always find disappointment in our inability to “fix” the world let alone our small situations.

Disappointment takes over when we feel unable to correct our situation to our satisfaction.

What was Jesus doing sleeping while his friends and followers were scared and struggling?

Lessons from Jesus come in many ways and in many forms. If you listen to His comments in the context He says, after calming the storm, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”

The obvious message here is the contrast between fear and faith. When we’re trusting a truly all-knowing, all-loving and all-powerful Savior we have virtually nothing to fear. He says, “We’re going to the other side” of the lake – so it’s settled. We’re going to a safe place with Him no matter what current circumstances tell us.

I’m really disappointed when my feeble and foolish plans that conflict with His don’t work out the way that I wish them to. Maybe that’s why they don’t work for me in the first place. Maybe my disappointment really reveals the condition of my heart and who I’m really trusting enough to follow.

The disappointment storm can be calmed through quiet faith in the right Person, the One who has ultimate control and unlimited power.

I am finding that the disappointment storm which often blows into my own life can be calmed. It comes from taking a step back in the midst of the storm and asking a few key questions –

Who am I trusting?

Whose plan am I following? My own or His?

What is the process that is in place here? Is it larger than the storm itself?

Jesus and his disciples did indeed make it to the other side of the sea but the men were somewhat different when they set foot on shore. They knew they weren’t as alone as they thought they were but they also knew the One they could really trust. “Even the wind and the waves obey Him!”

Who we are trusting in the disappointment storm must be a larger lesson than our own personal preferences in the storm itself.

Read Full Post »

“By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures. A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength; for waging war you need guidance, and for victory many advisers.” – Proverbs 24:3-6 (NIV)

Yesterday Dustin Johnson, the thirty-year old, highly successful professional golfer at the top of his game, announced that he has decided to take a break from golf to address personal issues in his life and seek outside professional help.

Today the news is that drug use is the issue. It’s being rumored that he is being suspended for six months by the PGA for being tested positive for cocaine.

So the sporting world is facing a new challenge for one of its star performers. Even so I can relate to where Dustin is at just now.

Being a film-fan I always enjoyed a good western movie. In the great westerns of yesteryear you could generally count on the US Cavalry coming to the rescue in desperate situations. When the peaceful, hardworking homesteaders on the frontier got surrounded by the enemy and all hope was lost, the US Cavalry seemed to arrive just in time to save the day!

Life has a way of landing us in trouble that we can’t squeeze out of unless someone from outside comes to the rescue. The problem is that we often don’t know how much trouble we’re in before we call for help. I don’t know about you but it seems that in my life I keep having to learn lessons the hard way. All too often pain seems to be the best teacher.

In the early days of US television there was a famous western series called “The Lone Ranger.” It featured a masked man who, along with his trusty Native American sidekick, “Tonto” would rescue people out of hopeless situations.

In my generation, it was every boy’s dream to be “the Lone Ranger.” Strong, independent and reliable were subliminal code words we seemed to inhale with every episode.

For most of my life I preferred “The Lone Ranger” to “The Cavalry”. I wanted to be able to solve my own problems and meet my own needs without having to call in anyone else to help. For more years than I care to admit, I never sought out a mentor, although I often heard that it might be a good idea.

Unfortunately in the real world pride makes small men even smaller. Proud men dislike outside help. Hollywood, fueled by pride and competition, doesn’t preach that sermon.

In reflecting on Dustin Johnson’s situation I can’t help but think back to the beginning of Tiger Wood’s problems in November of 2009. He was in deep trouble long before the news hit the media. Although many of his problems may be resolved he’s still working his way back to prominence in golf almost five years later. He was in a deep crisis way before the Cavalry arrived.

The verses quoted above from Proverbs direct us to a much different pattern of life  – people who are wise, successful and productive in life have “houses” (i.e. lives) that are built on understanding, knowledge, strength and guidance from many advisers!”

The best leaders are also people who are led, most of time by the people they intentionally and willingly choose to follow. They are team players, not Lone Rangers! They rely on key outsiders and even disgruntled customers to speak into their lives and situations.

People who are growing and influential are vulnerable and connected to others. They welcome feedback because they know they can learn from it. They seem to know who they can trust. They confide in those people, seek their input and make mid-course corrections. Generally everyone wins from that type of behavior.

Because of our natural self-protection and blind spots we often don’t know we are in trouble until someone on the outside gives us a clue that we are not in a good place and that we need wisdom beyond our own boundaries.

Several years ago when facing a personal crisis I finally started to stop trying to be the Lone Ranger and start calling in the Cavalry. It made all the difference in my own life and new life patterns of dealing with problems emerged.

Often our own pride blinds us to see God-given advisers all around us. The truth is that we can’t watch ourselves travel through life – but others around us can. Many of them are smarter than we are and have pretty keen eyesight and life experience.

Look at your own life. I’d say that your “Cavalry” is all around you. They can be friends, spouses, small group leaders, pastors, teachers, church leaders, business consultants, coaches, doctors, specialists in a field of interest and the list goes on.

Now that I’m a little wiser I continually update my list of “Cavalry” members God has placed around me. I’m grateful for a growing number of key people near me whom I can call in to help before the crises of my life get out of hand. It’s like heeding the warning signs of cancer as soon as they appear – and doing something about them before it’s too late.

My hope is that at age thirty Dustin Johnson hasn’t left his decision too long before seeking help. If things go well for his recovery he’ll be the real winner in the long run.

Now when I see a crisis brewing I’m quicker to spot my foolish pride and call in my own Cavalry because in reality Lone Rangers finish last.

Read Full Post »

“The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” 1 Samuel 16:7b (New Living Translation)

A well-respected man lived in a quiet suburban neighborhood and was known for keeping a luxurious garden. All the neighbors around him admired the way he kept his lawn cut and shrubs and hedges trimmed. He seemed to care for every detail of his garden, particularly his flowers which dazzled with color and beauty.

Most days this man could be seen doing some activity in his garden and although he was a fairly quiet individual he always greeted the neighbors and seemed happy and content outdoors. Many of the neighbors were motivated to keep up their own gardens to a higher standard, but most of them could only admire this man’s accomplishments.

One day, without warning, the neighbors were shocked to see their friend dash out of his house and begin to destroy his garden. The man, obviously shaken and angry, began to pull up the beautiful flowers and wildly cut down his shrubs. He ran to the back of his house and brought out a tiller. He then began to dig up his lawn with wild abandon. He didn’t seem to care that the fruits of years of his hard, dedicated labor seemed to be vanishing in a matter of minutes.

The neighbors were obviously in disbelief. Such behavior from someone so steady and predictable seemed quite outlandish. After the initial shock wore off they started to talk among themselves as to what should be done about this sort of person displaying this type of behavior in their midst. Some of the neighbors said that he should face consequences for his actions. After all it was a peaceful and attractive neighborhood – not a war zone. He had kept a fine garden for a long time and now to destroy it was almost unforgivable.

Others wondered what brought on such bizarre behavior. A couple of them really cared about their friend and found enough courage to approach him, face to face, and ask him what was wrong. They were heartbroken to discover that their friend and neighbor, unknown to them, had been living with significant personal challenges and problems for some years. Outside the house, the man put on a brave face and a confident persona but inside the house he was filled with despair and regret that none of his neighbors ever observed.

The man with the beautiful garden had never opened up to a single soul about the heavy burdens he had been carrying for a number of years. It seems that his garden had been a way to escape from all the pressures and problems of life he faced inside his own home. One day the pressure got to be too much and the only way he knew to respond was by destroying the very thing that had been positive about his life.

Word got around the neighborhood as to what motivated this outlandish behavior. Some of the neighbors continued to visit their friend, and to listen with compassion as he reflected on his life and what was troubling him. Many of the difficult issues of his life even began to be resolved.

Eventually he started working out in the garden once again, re-planting a new lawn and replacing the lost flowers and shrubs.

When the neighborhood returned to normal most everyone was happy to see the gardener back at work, creating something of joy and beauty.

Sadly, some living around him still refused to befriend their neighbor, doubting that he had really changed. They feared that perhaps another attack on the garden would always be imminent. They could never get the picture out of their minds of a man destroying his beautiful garden right there in their own neighborhood.

Still others who were wise and compassionate realized that what goes on inside a man’s house will become evident outside the house. They now enjoyed a deeper relationship with their friend than ever before.

“The LORD doesn’t see things the way you see them. People judge by outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”

Read Full Post »

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 »

%d bloggers like this: