Saturday, April 10, 2021

Try, Try Again

Photo by Tripjodi 2011

As the old adage goes, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”

That came to mind as my husband Richard and I, at our relatively advanced stage of life, attempted our first foray into kayaking. Our son and daughter-in-law had enjoyed it during their recent stay at the beach, and we had found a great sale on an inflatable kayak, so what could possibly go wrong?

Day 1: Having pumped up the questionably seaworthy, bright yellow vessel, Richard christened it the “Banana Boat.”  We dragged it over to the dock, but the lagoon level was considerably below it, and Richard was leery of lowering himself into the seemingly unstable craft. And he fretted over the barnacles he believed were all along the dock’s underwater supports, which could easily jab a hole into the kayak, or even worse, our feet.

So we hoisted it to our shoulders, carried it across the road, over the footbridge to the Gulf of Mexico, and some distance down the beach, away from prying eyes of sunbathers who might find our inexperience a fruitful source for jokes at our expense. All this carrying turned out to be more difficult than expected while we were encumbered in ill-fitting life vests and juggling paddles.

Undeterred, we positioned the kayak parallel to the shore, tentatively got in the shallow water, and attempted to push off with the paddles, only to find that the rudder beneath the boat was stuck in the sand! After many futile attempts to get afloat, we silently braved the “walk of shame” back to the shed, where we stored the kayak for another, hopefully better time.

 

Day 2: At least now we knew to bypass the dock/lagoon misadventure and headed directly to the Gulf, Banana Boat aloft on our shoulders. It seemed the perfect day for kayaking – sunny, not too warm, calm currents. Or so we thought. We actually got afloat, now having learned to embark in slightly deeper water, and to turn the kayak perpendicular to the shore once we got in. But Richard had trouble paddling, as the inflatable seat did not support his back sufficiently for him to maintain an upright position.

After we travelled only about 6 feet, the once calm waves seemed to roughen and crest, threatening our journey. So we turned back to shore, where a wave crashed over the side before we could get out, splashing our faces and filling up the kayak. We made a hasty retreat on our knees before we could stand up, only to repeat the “walk of shame” past the beachcombers.

 

Day 3: Richard had found a discarded circular Styrofoam cooler – just the right size, shape and lightness to insert behind his seat so he could row upright.  Perfect weather once again, with the sea waters calm as silk, bordered in frothy, lacy foam along the shoreline. We embarked without incident and headed out to sea! But our pride deflated a little when a middle-aged woman passing by called out nervously, “Would you like me to give you a push?”

“No, we’re good, thanks!” Richard replied. And we were! Miraculously, with no effort at all, we paddled out to a suitable depth where the surf was even calmer, and turned Banana Boat 90 degrees so we could row along the coastline.

What an amazing new perspective that gave us! We had walked by the beach cottages and enjoyed the coastline before, but now we could take it all in at once and felt more a part of it, warmed by the sun sparkling on the ocean yet cooled by the gentle breeze, moved by it as if we were osprey soaring on the wind.

Suddenly we spotted a black fin ahead and to the left of us. Thankfully, this was a dolphin and not a shark! We stopped rowing in amazement, savoring the moment, as not 6 feet away from us a pair of dolphins surfaced and began frolicking around us, emerging and submerging beneath the waves.

Once they were gone, we rowed on for a bit, then uneventfully returned to shore, thanking God that we had persevered long enough to experience this awe-inspiring communion with His creation!

 

It made me think of my spiritual and prayer life, how even when I seem to approach quiet time with the right intentions, the peace I crave eludes me. Satan knows that once believers are saved by trusting in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 15:1-4) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6), that prayer is one of the most powerful weapons in our spiritual arsenal (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

God can accomplish far more through His saints as they pray than we can by attempting to fight the enemy in our own flesh, for without Him, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We are to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17), prayerfully put on each piece of God’s armor (Ephesians 6:18), and be anxious about nothing, for we can bring all our prayer requests to the Lord (Philippians 4:6), Who knows what we need before we even ask Him (Matthew 6:8,32; 7:11).

Jesus Himself habitually began the day in prayer, coming away to a desert place (Luke 4:42; 9:10), where He drew the strength, peace and wisdom to accomplish His Father’s will (Luke 22:42). He was perfect, tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin (Hebrews 4:15), so I imagine He overcame the distractions and obstacles that so often hinder my prayer life.

Some days I intend to pray and yet can’t even seem to find a suitable place or time, like the difficulty we encountered on Day 1 when we couldn’t even get afloat. Other days I plunge into prayer, yet soon find myself washed up on the shore of daily life, battered by the waves of life’s real and imagined crises, as on Day 2 when our sea cruise ended abruptly before it even began.

Yet we must not give up on our prayer life. If we try, try again, we will soon find that we need do nothing to work toward the peace that passes all understanding (Philippians 4:7), the reassurance that God is faithful (Revelation 3:14) and keeps all His promises (Titus 1:2), and the joy of His salvation (Psalm 51:12), for He does it all. If we surrender to His will and way, He will bear us aloft on the current of His Spirit to reach heavenly places with Him (Ephesians 2:6).

May we not grow discouraged in prayer (Galatians 6:9), but earnestly seek His face (1 Chronicles 16:11; 2 Chronicles 7:14) and listen for His voice for the blessings and guidance we need (1 Kings 19:12). He desires fellowship with His children (1 Corinthians 1:9), and if we try, try again to know Him better, He will faithfully reward us by revealing Himself, His wisdom, and His plan for our life (Jeremiah 29:13; Deuteronomy 4:29; Proverbs 8:17; Matthew 7:7-8).

In these divine appointments, we need not try at all, for Christ has done it all through His finished work on the cross (John 19:30; Hebrews 12:2). We can be confident that once He has started a good work in us, He will bring it to fruition (Philippians 1:6) as we yield to Him!  

© 2021 Laurie Collett




 

Saturday, April 3, 2021

Because Christ Is Risen!


What difference does it make that Christ rose from the dead? It makes all the difference for everyone and everything throughout eternity! It is the single most significant, paradigm-changing, earth-shattering event of all time.

Because He is risen, we can live with Him forever! The center of our Christian faith is knowing not only that Jesus, Son of God and God Himself, died on the cross to pay our sin debt, but that He rose again to give us eternal life. That is the heart of the Gospel, or Good News (1 Corinthians 15: 1-4). Christianity is unique among the religions because we serve a risen Savior! The leaders of all other religions are dead and there is no claim of their resurrection.

The list of appearances of the risen Christ is to dispel all doubt that He not only rose from the dead, but that He appeared in a resurrection body for more than 500 witnesses to see at different times and places (1 Corinthians 15:5-8; Acts 1:3; Matthew 28).

The resurrection of Christ proves His deity (Romans 1:3-4). The resurrection of Christ completed the work God the Father sent Him to do; namely, as God the Son, to be the perfect, holy sacrifice that paid for our sins (2 Corinthians 5:21). When that was finished (John 19:30), He returned to His rightful place at the right hand of God the Father (Hebrews 1:1-3).

The resurrection of Christ is essential for us to have eternal life and for our salvation (1 Corinthians 15:12-20). It is evidence that when God looks at each of us as believers, He sees not our sins, but the pure holiness of His Son who gave us His righteousness by taking on our sins (Romans 4:24-25).

The resurrection of Christ is the proof that He is the righteous Judge to whom all must give an accounting one day (Acts 17:31)

The resurrection of Christ is the reason believers have hope (1 Peter 1:3-5). All believers in the resurrection who, through faith, have accepted Christ as their Savior, are saved and are eternally secure in their salvation (John 10:28-29; Romans 8:33-39).

The resurrection of Christ is the reason believers can be confident in receiving glorified bodies at the Rapture and spending eternity with Christ (1 Thessalonians 4: 14-17).

Praise God that we serve a risen Savior! May the power of His resurrection inspire your daily life, secure your salvation, and guarantee your eternal destiny in Heaven as a child of the King! He died for you, and because He rose, you can live with Him forever! Trust Him today!

John 11:25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die.


© 2012 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives 






 

Saturday, March 27, 2021

The Crux

 

The Crux

Photo by AntonO 2014
Patterns of three in Scripture reflect God’s Triune nature, as exemplified in the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. It surprised me, however, to discover that the root word for crucifixion, namely “crux,” from the Latin word for cross or torture, also has three definitions.

According to Merriam-Webster, these are:
        1. A puzzling or difficult problem:  an unsolved question
2.   An essential point requiring resolution or resolving an outcome 
3.   A main or central feature (as of an argument).
 
How appropriate these three definitions are when we consider the role of the cross in Christianity!  The paradox of the cross is in fact one of the most puzzling or difficult problems of all time. How could God lower Himself to leave Heaven’s throne, wrap Himself in human flesh (John 1:2), and subject Himself (Luke 9:51) to the cruelest punishment man has ever devised?

Why would He come to earth not to be revered as King of Kings, obeyed as Lord of Lords (1 Timothy 6:15, Revelation 17:14; 19:16), and worshipped as our Holy High Priest (Hebrews 4:14-15), but to be despised, betrayed, and rejected? (Isaiah 53:3)

Why would Holy God the Son, Who knew no sin, take on all of mankind’s sin (2 Corinthians 5:21), allowing Himself momentarily to be separated from God the Father (Mark 15:33-34) to pay our sin debt in full (Romans 3:25; 1 John 2:2; 4:10) while we were still His enemies? (Romans 5:10)

Which brings us to the second definition: the cross is the essential point demanding resolution. How each of us responds to the puzzling problem of the cross determines our relationship to God, the resolution of our sin problem, and our eternal destiny.

We can deny the importance of what Christ did for us on the cross, trusting wrongly in our good deeds to outweigh our sin and to earn our way to Heaven (Isaiah 64:6; Romans 3:23; Ephesians 2:8-9). We can ignore the cross, but sadly, ignorance is not bliss, and a wrong belief system does not free anyone from the consequences of the truth. Those who deny or ignore the cross are condemned to the same fate – eternal punishment in hell (John 3:18).

Only by trusting in Christ’s completed work on the cross (John 19:30; Hebrews 10:10-14) as the only Way to Heaven (John 14:6) can we receive eternal life (John 3:16, 5:24). Faith in this changes us from God’s enemies to God’s children (Romans 8:16); from guilty to forgiven (Ephesians 1:7; 4:32; Acts 13:38; 26:18); and from condemned to eternal death in hell to redeemed to eternal life with Christ in Heaven (Romans 8:1; Galatians 3:13; Revelation 5:9).

Therefore, the cross is the main or central feature of Christian doctrine – the first and essential condition of the triad of His death, burial and resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). This is the heart of the Gospel, or Good News. Without believing it in our heart we cannot be saved from the penalty of our sin (Romans 10:9), born again (John 3:3-8) into the family of God, and destined for eternity with Christ and our loved ones in Him.

On Calvary’s hill that fateful day were three crosses: that of Jesus between those of two thieves (Matthew.27:38; Luke 23:33). These three represent the entire relationship of God with man: Jesus Christ the Savior; those who accept Him and His completed work on the cross; and those who reject Him (Luke 23:39-43).

The thief who recognized Christ as Lord was promised that he would be in Paradise with Jesus that very day, but the unrepentant thief who angrily denied His power is still suffering in hell. Sadly, many indifferent passersby in the crowd were jaded by the crucifixions that were commonplace in that time, and ignored the suffering of our Lord on the cross (Matthew 27:40). Unless they came to believe in Him later, like the centurion and others who experienced the earthquake after His death and then realized that He was the Son of God (Matthew 27:54), they too would be condemned.

On the cross, Christ tasted death for us (Hebrews 2:9) so that we would not need to face that consequence of our sin (Romans 6:23). He paid in full the debt He did not owe and that we could not pay, to reconcile sinful man to Holy God (Romans 5:10; 2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Ephesians 2:16; Colossians 1:20-21; Hebrews 2:17).

The cross bridged the great gulf between our sin and God’s perfection, purity and holiness. From before the foundation of the world, Triune God knew that Adam would disobey, bringing the curse of sin, separation from God, and eternal death upon all mankind (Genesis 3). But God had an amazing plan of salvation (Hebrews 4:3; 9:26; 1 Peter 1:20; Revelation 13:8).

The Son would become flesh (John 1:2), suffer and die on the cross to pay the sin debt, and rise again to prove His divinity and give eternal life to all who trust Him. He laid down His life willingly so that He could take it up again (John 10:15,17; 15:13; 1 John 3:16), giving us victory (1 Corinthians 15:54-57) over Satan, sin and death!

Because of the cross, Christ’s followers have the blessed hope of eternal life and of His glorious reappearing (Titus 2:13; 1 Peter 1:3). One day we will have glorified bodies like His (1 Corinthians 15:49-54) that will never die, sin, or experience the corruption of pain, sickness or aging!

If you haven’t already, I implore you to consider the puzzling problem of Christ’s cross, to resolve once and for all in your mind and heart what He did for you there, and to make it the crux of your daily life, your relationship to God, and your eternal destiny!   May we all take up His cross and follow Him!  

© 2016 Laurie Collett
Reposted from the archives
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