Friday, August 17, 2001
Not long ago I got to take one of my favorite East Coast walks. You know, growing up in Illinois, I didn't know much about the ocean. So when we moved to New Jersey, I quickly developed a pretty deep love for the ocean. So it's no surprise that Ocean City is one of my favorite places to go, right? And I love to walk out on one of the long, rock jetties that reach out into the sea from the beach. I really love it at high tide when the surf is crashing in around those rocks. When you see some of those monster waves surging toward those rocks, it looks like there's going to be a classic confrontation between the irresistible force (the ocean) and the immovable object (the rocks). Well, I'll tell you, the ocean sure overwhelms everything else in its way. But every time those rocks I stand on meet the mighty power of the sea, the winner is always the same. The wave is shattered. The rock remains.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A WORD WITH YOU today about "Why Rocky Always Wins".
Our word for today from the Word of God is about heavy surf--a list of some of the powerful waves that come crashing into all our lives. In 2 Corinthians 6:4-5, Paul says, "As servants of God, we commend ourselves in every way: in great endurance; in troubles, hardships and distresses; in beatings, imprisonments and riots; in hard work, sleepless nights and hunger."
Paul is describing here three terrible trios--monster waves that overwhelm many people. The first terrible trio is troubles, hardships (by the way, the word in the original Greek is "calamities"), and distresses (the Greek is literally "narrow straits" where you're really boxed in). Secondly, there are beatings (obviously, that means physical attacks), imprisonments (maybe those times in your life when you're confined), riots (which, for us, can apply to times when it seems everyone is turning against you). Finally, Paul points out the waves of hard work, sleepless nights, hunger.
Got any waves like that beating on you? Well, you'll be encouraged with how Paul demonstrated how to handle them. He starts this hammering list with the words "in great endurance." That means perseverance, steadfastness. In fact, the root of the word here is the word for "staying where you are." Paul's saying, "I'm not going anywhere. I'm taking my stand and nothing can move me." He says it is possible to be hit by high tide after high tide and still be the rock that is unmoved.
If you know Christ, you have in Him the power to be a rock-person just like Paul. Remember, the rock smashes the wave; the wave doesn't smash the rock! In football, they'll talk about whether or not a player can take a hit. Well, Paul could--and so can you--if you are drawing on the same stabilizing source of endurance.
Listen for it in 2 Corinthians 1:8-9. Paul says, "We were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired even of life. Indeed, in our hearts we felt the sentence of death. But this happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God." Now that's it--right there--the secret of endurance when yours is gone--relying on your God. That means meeting intimately with Him each new day and getting a daily refill of His strength, of experiencing His renewing presence.
There's no guarantee that you won't be hit by heavy seas--or even hurt by heavy seas. But as long as you are God's servant, drawing deeply on His strength, you will never be moved by heavy seas. Is it high tie for you right now? Maybe even storm tide? Well, you're going to make it! Because, "you can do all things through Christ who gives you strength." (Philippians 4:13)
After the waves have finished their battering and tide has receded, you'll still be there--only stronger than ever. In Christ, you're a rock--and the rock always smashes the waves!