Friday, November 18, 2016
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One summer our staff had a picnic at the home of one of our volunteers. And this volunteer has a swimming pool. Actually a few people came prepared to go in the pool that day, but I knew one of them would be our son-in-law. He was there only minutes before he was in his swim trunks and diving in. What I didn't expect was who was in the pool with him – our one-year-old grandson. He looked so small in that big pool. But he was loving the water and floating along fearlessly. Not because he could swim, of course. Look, he was advanced – of course, our grandson, but not that advanced. No, his daddy had him sitting in his own personal inner tube, so he had no trouble staying afloat.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft, and I want to have A Word With You today about "Staying Afloat."
Our grandson was able to stay afloat because he was riding something buoyant – something that couldn't sink. Of course, without that, the pool would have been a very fearful and very dangerous place.
The fact is, we all need something buoyant to hang onto don't we? Especially on those days when our load seems heavy enough to swamp us or even sink us. I know I have a lot of days when the load of responsibility seems so overwhelming. I'm like my little grandson. I need something buoyant to hold me up. And God has given it to us in a gift described in five words. They're in our word for today in Nehemiah 8:10. "Do not grieve", God says, "for the joy of the Lord is your strength."
Where do you find the strength to go on when your strength is gone? From the joy of the Lord. Now that joy is not rooted in your circumstances, how things are going, how people are treating you, how you're feeling, whether you're winning or losing, whether you're married or single, or whether you're surrounded by people or whether you're all by yourself. The roots of this joy are not in your situation. They're in your Savior. That's why the Apostle Paul can write a letter to the Philippians from a musty old prison cell and make joy his central theme. The Lord was in that prison cell with His joy as much as he was with Paul in his good times.
But for many of us, our load robs us of our joy. We become stressed, edgy, selfish, even mean-spirited when the pressure is on. There goes the joy! There goes the very strength we need to float through these waters. Now what is it about our Lord that can pump joy into our spirit, no matter what's happening? To experience that joy we need to focus on several important perspectives on our Lord.
First, the battle is the Lord's. That phrase, which is repeated several times in Scripture, allows us to relax in the confidence that the outcome, the victory is out of my hands and totally in God's hands. Man, does that lighten the load! He's the lord of the outcomes.
Secondly, God will come through this time as He always has before. On those overwhelming days, we really need to focus on praising God for the countless times He's come through in the past – and I need to affirm this time is not going to be any different. Great is His faithfulness! Lord, your mercies are new every morning.
Thirdly, everything I do is for my wonderful Lord. If you're doing it for anyone else, you will inevitably lose the joy because other people are going to let you down. One other joy-giving perspective – Jesus is the Lord of the undone. Boy, I'll tell you, so many days I've reached the end with a long list of things that didn't get done. You can sink if you think about them – or you can do what He taught me finally. You can release them to your Lord, knowing you've done your best and He'll do the rest. He is Lord of the undone.
When the load is heavy, you need strength more than ever – and "the joy of the Lord is your strength." You're buoyant because you're hanging onto something unsinkable. Which means you can carry a heavy load with a light heart!