"For I believe God…"
Are you in a stormy season in life? Do you feel like circumstances, people and events have all gathered against you in one torrential downpour of disappointment?
If so – you are the reason why I wrote my new book, “StormProof: Weathering Life’s Tough Times”.
Storms in life are nothing to take lightly … and they are certainly nothing to ignore.
But they are something that you can sing your way through!
Here, for this final week, is an excerpt from my new book, “StormProof”. I hope that it encourages you to keep up your courage as you walk through the unremitting blizzard of circumstances that are battering your life.
“Paul had been arrested for obeying the injunction of Jesus Christ and preaching the hopeful message of salvation. After having made his defense before King Agrippa and the Roman governor Festus, Paul was being sent to Rome because he had appealed to Caesar. He was placed on a ship—the fastest means of transportation of the day for long-distance travel—along with other prisoners who were being sent to Italy.
There are seasons in life when conditions may seem to go from absolutely terrible to entirely debilitating. Such was the situation in which Paul found himself in the middle of the Mediterranean Sea.
“Running under the shelter of a small island called Clauda, we were scarcely able to get the ship’s boat under control. After they had hoisted it up, they used supporting cables in undergirding the ship; and fearing that they might run aground on the shallows of Syrtis, they let down the sea anchor and in this way let themselves be driven along. The next day as we were being violently storm-tossed, they began to jettison the cargo; and on the third day they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands.” (Acts 27:16–19)
Luke reported that in the midst of the great storm that Paul and his fellow travelers were experiencing, “theybegan to jettison the cargo” (Acts 27:18). When that decision didn’t lighten their load sufficiently, “they threw the ship’s tackle overboard with their own hands”.
The only way to keep the ship from sinking was to lighten the load by throwing everything extraneous overboard. The desperate crew had no choice but to dump all of the cargo that was not necessary for the saving of their boat or of their very lives. The next day, they determined that if they were going to make it through this typhoon, they must rid the ship of even the tackle supplies. These were frantic last rites for a dying ship, indeed!
“Since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned. When they had gone a long time without food, then Paul stood up in their midst and said, “Men, you ought to have followed my advice and not to have set sail from Crete and incurred this damage and loss. Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship. For this very night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood before me, saying, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul; you must stand before Caesar; and behold, God has granted you all those who are sailing with you.’ Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told. But we must run aground on a certain island.” (Acts 27:20–26)
Can you even imagine what Paul and the other inhabitants of this sailing vessel were facing? Some of them had probably tethered themselves to anything stable in order to prevent being washed overboard. They clung to any object that was fastened to the deck of the ship and spit out salt water as yet another giant wave washed over the side of their storm-tossed sloop. Almost everyone on the ship—the crew, the passengers, the prisoners, and the slaves—was demoralized. They had lost all hope that this storm would ever end; and even if it did, would they live to tell about it?
In the middle of this dark and desperate scene, Paul stood up to address everyone. I picture him covered in sticky salt water as he began a sermon that has not lost its power to encourage us during our personal storms!
Paul, who had endured so much for the gospel of Jesus Christ, told these frightened and waterlogged individuals, “Keep up your courage”! What power-packed and authoritative words coming from a man who had given up creature comforts and safety because of his deep love for Christ.
Even though he was still a prisoner, Paul became a combination of admiral and cheerleader to the group of weary voyagers. He emerged as a leader who spoke with the voice of hope. Now remember, the reason the Holy Spirit included this exciting seafaring story in the Bible was so that you and I could extract life principles from Paul’s adventures. The apostle’s words echo through the millennia of history as he charges all believers in Jesus Christ with the resolution to “keep up our courage”—even when we are experiencing the worst storm of our lives!
The next time you are in a storm, become the voice of hope to those around you. You might be the solo voice of hope, but start cheering other people up. Quit talking about the storm and start speaking about your God. Humanity and history have no idea how much they owe to the presence of righteous men and women in the middle of devastating circumstances.
Paul’s words echo through the centuries as a riveting reminder of how to endure the instability of a life storm: “Keep up your courage” (Acts 27:22). Paul did not only urge this response one time in his powerful soliloquy, but he repeated it: “Therefore, keep up your courage, men, for I believe God that it will turn out exactly as I have been told”. If you forget every other principle in this book, remember this one: Keep up your courage!
Where does a person find courage when the wind is wailing and the visibility is nearly zero? Where does courage come from when an ordinary man or woman is in the middle of a downpour of disappointment or a deluge of despair? Where is courage in that moment?
Hidden in Paul’s words is a four-word phrase that holds the key to courageous living: “For I believe God…”
You will never embrace the potent attribute of courage if you don’t first begin by believing God. Even if your heart denies that belief, let your lips confess it. When your blood pressure is rising, let your faith take over and declare loudly enough for the winds and the waves and the demons in hell to hear, “I believe God! I believe that He is good and that He is with me!” In that moment of declaration, fear will take a back seat to courage. Courage will then be at the helm of your ship and will guide you through the fiercest onslaught that life can imagine.
Let me tell you what courage is:
Courage is the dynamic choice to believe the eternal fact that God is always good and that He will, indeed, have the final say in every storm.
· Courage is the conviction that He is our shelter and “a very present help in trouble”.
· Courage is the resolute certainty that He will never leave you or forsake you.
· Courage is the mind-set that God has been to your future and that it is good because He is good!
· Courage is tying yourself to the promises of God and never letting go of them!
· Courage is steering your mind away from worry and choosing to walk by bold faith, unswayed about by you see in the natural.
Men and women throughout all of recorded history have had to make the choice to be brave when their defenses were down and their very worlds were imploding. You are not the only human being who has ever had to make the choice to be brave. We are the children of the King of the ages, and He has given us His Holy Spirit so that we might choose to be brave even in the fiercest storm or the hottest fire—even when we find ourselves “between the devil and the deep Red Sea.”
Thanks for listening to my heart this week. As you know by now, my heart is truly not a perfect heart but it is a heart that is filled to overflowing with gratitude for the life I have been given and for the people who walk with me. And, it continues to be a heart that is relentlessly chasing after God and all that He is!
***** If you’d like to order a copy of my new book, “StormProof” and read the rest of Paul’s story, you can do so at CBD.com, Amazon.com or at my website, carolmcleodministries.com. Or, you can go to your local Christian bookstore and request that they order a copy for you!