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Endurance matters

Hymns were foundational in my own spiritual formation. Before I knew what it meant, I experienced “How Great” God was; I trusted “Jesus Loves Me,” because the Bible told me so.

Other hymns I needed to grow into, like a youngster grows into mastery of an adult bicycle. One such hymn was the “The Church’s One Foundation.” In particular, one stanza was a mystery:

Yet she on earth hath union
  With God the Three in One,
And mystic sweet communion
  With those whose rest is won:
O happy ones and holy!
  Lord, give us grace that we,
Like them, the meek and lowly,
  In love may dwell with Thee.

I grew to appreciate the words, “and mystic sweet communion with those whose rest is won.”  They teach that we are, by faith and in the Spirit, united with the church eternal. Further, they encourage us to see ourselves from God’s perspective.

Only very rarely will Satan attack God’s people from the front and boldly. Satan specializes in the spiritual equivalent of pouring water in the gas tank. He delights to have us obsessively dwell upon our weaknesses and failures. We lose our power (desire?) to move forward because we become convinced none of it matters.

But enduring does matter. Living as a child of God, an ambassador for Christ, a Spirit empowered witness of “the Kingdom of Heaven”: it ALL matters!

Remember that our fear of sin and death kept us enslaved, chained (as it were), and helpless on our knees before the taunts of the evil one. But the victory over sin and death is total, completely swallowed up by the life we have in Jesus.

From God’s perspective, who we were apart from Christ is gone. Our lives are hidden in Him. We no longer live, but Christ lives within. He has already sought the prize and won the race. We follow Him.  We run a race already completed. We walk in His steps. Endurance matters. Our endurance is our FIRST witness to our life in Jesus.

 

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Serving with Jesus may be Dangerous

One of the most unlikely songs to capture the popular imagination was Gordon Lightfoot’s sad ballad, “Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald,” in 1976.

Still the largest vessel to sink on the Great Lakes, the Edmund Fitzgerald was broken in two by forty foot waves in cold November of 1975. The Captain’s last message was, “We are holding our own.” Minutes later her crew of 29 lay buried under 530 feet of Lake Superior.

Two lines from the song express the helplessness of people who know they are about to go down with the ship.

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

Storms do that. When nature gathers in hostile strength a very real human response is to question the care of the Creator. A storm. A disease. A wayward child. Dementia. The soul-sapping crucible of an addiction. The awful rupture of a friendship.

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

Much is (rightly) made of how Jesus could sleep through the storm. His sleep bears witness to His humanity: He knew what it was to be wearied. This is true. By the time of the storm on the Sea of Galilee Jesus had worked Himself to the point of exhaustion. He fell asleep quickly and was able to sleep soundly. (That kind of sleep is a gift from God, by the way. c.f., Eccl. 5.12)

The storm did not wake Jesus. The disciples woke Jesus.

Do not let that slip from your awareness. What the hounding, pounding, sounding Sea could not do, the disciples did with a fervent touch. “We’re taking in water. We’re going down. We need you. We’re afraid.”

Does any one know where the love of God goes
When the waves turn the minutes to hours?

The love of God goes to the heart of the one who fears. On this occasion, Jesus calmed the storm. On others, the storm may continue to rage but the heart can still be calmed. Never fear to cry out to Jesus when the storm comes.

Have faith, you will be heard.

 

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