Week 8 Hope and Certainty
His Power and Not Our Own
The God I belong to, the God I worship, sent a heavenly messenger to me this night. He said, “Do not be afraid, Paul. I’m not finished with you yet.
Acts 27:23-24, The Voice
n the Scripture passage above, Paul is on a ship that is about to be destroyed. A horrible storm has raged for two weeks, and the crew is exhausted and hopeless. They are in this terrible situation as a result of having ignored Paul, who had warned them to change their course. What a difference two weeks can make! The same captain and crew that had disregarded Paul's advice just 14 days earlier now place faith in the God Paul serves. When Paul warns that they will die if the sailors leave the ship, they cut the ropes that secure the lifeboat to the main vessel. Now they follow Paul’s advice because they have no other choice; they have thrown their lot in completely with Paul’s God. Although the ship breaks apart, God spares the lives of all 276 of the men onboard.
We can relate to the men who did not at first pay attention to God’s counsel through Paul. Our own storm clouds threaten when, after some initial success, we struggle or even lose ground in our weight loss attempts. A reason for this may be that a little bit of success fuels confidence in our own efforts. When difficulties arise in the form of health problems or other life challenges, this fledgling confidence in our own ability to cope may cause us to respond as Paul’s companions first did to the storm. They attempted a series of increasingly panicked strategies before they finally were willing to follow Paul’s advice. We are prone to attempt escape from the things we fear most through efforts—sometimes foolish efforts—of our own rather than abiding in the Lord in trust.
Initial success followed by heartbreaking failure is not an unusual pattern in weight loss or any other program of self-improvement. When we fail we must remind ourselves that we serve a God who, in this age of grace, provides repeated opportunities to begin again; every morning we find His arms open to us. In our Lord, every day is a new opportunity. We never come to the end of His willingness to receive us when we have come to the end of ourselves.
Our life journeys will proceed on the Lord’s timetable and not our own, but we can take heart. The Lord says to us, as He said to Paul, “Do not be afraid, Child, I’m not finished with you yet!
Dear Lord, I confess that once again I’ve gone my own way and not yours. Please forgive me, and I thank You for saving my life, taking me back, and setting me on Your path once more. Father, I can’t change myself, please change me. I can’t sculpt myself into the form You have planned for me, please shape me according to Your will. Here are my fears, my heart, my life; I lay these at Your feet. Amen.
Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, says the Lord of hosts.