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Monday, July 8, 2013

Uh, oh! Another storm tossed journey!

Storm:  A disturbance of the normal condition.  Pretty much sums up most of life for some folks today, huh?  No matter which way they look, everything about their "normal" is in a place of disturbance!  "Normal" is no longer smooth sailing with calms seas and pretty skies above.  "Normal" is really pretty rocky waters, waves almost overwhelming you so as to affect your ability to stay upright, and torrential downpours which just seem to add to the problems at hand.  What we do in the midst of the storm often is our best defense against the storm!

Next day, out on the high seas again and badly damaged now by the storm, we dumped the cargo overboard. The third day the sailors lightened the ship further by throwing off all the tackle and provisions. It had been many days since we had seen either sun or stars. Wind and waves were battering us unmercifully, and we lost all hope of rescue.  With our appetite for both food and life long gone, Paul took his place in our midst and said, “Friends, you really should have listened to me back in Crete. We could have avoided all this trouble and trial. But there’s no need to dwell on that now. From now on, things are looking up! I can assure you that there’ll not be a single drowning among us, although I can’t say as much for the ship—the ship itself is doomed.  (Acts 27-18-22 MSG)

If you haven't read this entire chapter, you might just find it helpful to define some things you should "NOT" do in the midst of the storm.  It also does a good job of telling us the things we are supposed to do in the midst of the raging storms which disturb our "normal" in life!  So, hold on, we are gonna navigate these rocky waters together...

The storm might just have come because we weren't listening too well to God in the first place.  If you have ever felt that little "niggling" to NOT do something, but then just went right on ahead and set your sails in that direction, you probably have encountered some rough seas as a result!  Truth be told, we all are guilty of taking some courses in life God would have rather seen us leave as "uncharted"!

Too many times all we focus on in the storm is the storm itself - the winds billow, the choppy seas rock us beyond comfort, and the grey skies just make it hard to see any hope of an end.  Nothing discourages our hearts more than having the wrong focus in life.  Get your eyes on the bad stuff and you will see only the bad stuff.  Get your eyes focused on Jesus and you will begin to see a glimmer of light just beckoning you out of the storm.

Some things we see from the 27th chapter of Acts about what it is we MUST do in the midst of the storm seem pretty easy, but in reality are almost always NOT the way we respond to the storm.  So, if we learn these truths, recall them the next time the seas get a little choppy, we might just fair the storm a little better!

- First things first - remember who is in control of the storm.  It is not you!  God controls the storm.  We cannot try to maintain control of the storm - it is like bailing with a teaspoon!  We will never be able to keep up or resist the force of the storm if we want to maintain control.  Some of us think giving up control means we are weak and incapable - the opposite is quite true, for it takes a tremendous degree of strength and commitment to actually turn the helm over to God!

- Second, get rid of the excess stuff you are carrying around.  Look at what these guys did - they threw stuff overboard which really was not crucial to their survival.  Sometimes we hold onto stuff in our lives like our lives depended upon it.  When we are in the midst of the storm, we actually could do some soul-searching to see just how much of this "baggage" we are carrying around with us is really not necessary for us to keep holding onto!  Our baggage comes in all shapes and sizes, but suffice it to say, the stuff we carry often weighs us down much more than we realize.  Things like unforgiveness, pettiness, resentment, anger, etc. - they weigh you down and will actually serve to capsize your ship in the storm.

- Third, there is absolutely no place for pride in the midst of the storm.  When pride is on board - you won't want to give up control, nor will you want to ever part with your "precious baggage".  Pride is a killer in the midst of the storm.  It tells us it can "manage", but in truth, it can only manipulate - change direction this way or that for a while, but in the end, you don't escape the storm, you just sail around it in a whole lot longer!

- Fourth, we find there are some storms we just cannot escape, so the best we can do is maintain our focus and ride them out hand-in-hand with Jesus.  There might be some correction God asks for on our part, but when all is said and done, he remains in control and will bring the storm to an end when the storm has done its work.  Storms have a way of stirring things up, clearing things away, and revealing what has previously been hidden.  Just let the storm do its work and stop resisting it.

- Last, but definitely not least, you don't leave the ship!  You won't fair well in the waters - so don't think things will be better if you just leave where it is you are experiencing the greatest tossing and turbulence.  The tossing of the seas is no less in the swirling seas of the circumstances!  Just take hold of what is underneath you at the moment - it is God's vessel, he controls its course, and he will bring you to the place you can safely get on solid ground again.  Just sayin!