All of our lives we search for some semblance of continuity which can provide an "anchor" to withstand the stresses and trials we face in daily life. There is one constant that can provide that stability in the midst of any turmoil.
“IS THERE ANY CONSTANT IN OUR CHANGING WORLD?”
I’ve been in Wilmington, North Carolina this past week and one of the most memorable experiences I’ll take home with me is my visits to the oceanic beach of Topsail Island. The skies have been crystal clear with only the occasional frozen jet stream tailing behind a passenger plane teetering high in the heavenly expanse to mar the perfect view. The hue of the sky has been a spectacular robin egg blue – a shade deeper than normal – and the clarity of the air has permitted ground level views for miles along the glistening sand to the north and south. To the east, over the crashing waves filled with white foam, allowed me to witness the horizon of the water, which ended as the curvature of the earth begins its “bend” away toward the water and land of the “other side” of the world.
Over my years on beaches of the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and all of the Great Lakes, there never seems to be a really bad day on the larger bodies of water. Though there have been days of heavy rain companioned with storm conditions as opposed to sun-filled days, every experience on the water presents a unique fascination that can never be exactly duplicated. Though there are similarities in “like” days – sunny days or windy days or stormy days or days of heavy surf – I have come to the point where I realize there are no constants on large expanses of aqua as each beach day is a gift of its own; each day will be different and the differences must be appreciated in order to learn God’s teachings for the day.
In Matthew 6:34 the words of Jesus Christ are quoted from His “Sermon on the Mount” which are, “So do not worry or be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have enough worries and anxieties of its own. Sufficient for each day is its own trouble” (Amplified Bible). At first glance the passage seems to tie directly to the preceding verses in which Jesus reminds His hearers to trust in God to meet every need they have on a daily basis. God desires to teach us through the variety of life encounters we experience each day. To face the variety leads to personal growth as shown in James 1:3-4 which states:
“Be assured and understand that the trial and proving of your faith bring out endurance and steadfastness and patience.
But let endurance and steadfastness and patience have full play and do a thorough work, so that you may be people perfectly and fully developed with no defects, lacking in nothing” (Amplified Bible).
But I think there is a companion agenda as well – to know that temptations, tests and trials will be a part of every day. In fact, in the preceding verse of James 1:2, we are told it is not “if” temptations, tests and trails will come but, rather, “when.” We will not escape them in this life and to think we somehow have the power to do so – to be able to insulate ourselves from temptations, tests and trials - is futile thinking at best.
These passages relate to my experience on the beach. The waves imitate the temptations, tests and trials we experience in this life. Some days we will experience very little turbulence and the waves will be little more then the gentle lapping of water along the shoreline, only mildly stirring up the sand with the touch of its “fingers.” On other days, the waves will be more formidable and seek to subtly force its way upon the pliable beige sand and alter the sand’s formation. On still other days, the waves will be violent in nature and seemingly be seeking to destroy the very structure of the sand – desiring to permanently alter the foundation of the silica and quartz, the usual composition of sand.
This is how it is with the temptations, tests and trials that come our way each and every day. Some days will seem to be virtually trouble free while others will forcefully challenge the very foundation of our beliefs and faith. Just as the sand cannot escape the assertive presence of the waves, neither can we escape the reality of temptations, tests and trials each and every day of our lives.
I liken the sand and its vulnerability to the action of the waves to our lives in which we are constantly vulnerable to the temptations, tests and trials which seek to impose their will upon our daily existence. Just as the sand can be moved, removed, eroded and/or reshaped, our lives can experience the same unless we find the one constant that permits us the possibility of “control” against that which comes against us – that singular constant that can, unlike the sand, enable us to withstand the onslaught of the “waves” and remain resolute against attempts at forceful alteration due to the wealth of uncontrollable circumstances that we will face.
That constant cannot be found within ourselves because we, as created human beings formed by a Creator, only have limited power – just as the sand only has limited empowerment – to stand against forces more formidable than we. Without a force greater than we ourselves, the strength of the “waves” of life can do tremendous damage, even forever altering our mental, emotional, spiritual and physical well-being. There is only one eternal answer – one source whose power supercedes all other – and that answer is found in the One God through a relationship with His Son Jesus Christ. The very words of Jesus make the comparison of sand being turned into a foundation of stone that can stand against the actions of the rain, floods and wind. Matthew 7:24-27 states,
“So every one who hears these words of Mine and acts upon them – obeying them – will be like a sensible, prudent, practical, wise man who built his house upon the rock.
And the rain fell and the floods came, and the winds blew against that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock.
And everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not do them will be like a stupid, foolish man who built his house upon the sand;
And the rains fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house and it fell; and great and complete was the fall of it” (Amplified Bible).
That single constant in our lives that never changes is God. He is a rock that cannot be moved under any circumstance. Unlike all else in all creation, there is nothing that can alter God because He is the Creator, not the created. Because He formed the composite of all of the universe and the respective galaxies existing within the whole, He alone exists without beginning or ending. Having nothing finite about Himself, He provides the foundation of eternal strength upon which we can grasp and hold on when the vicious waves of life pound against us. By firmly holding onto His tender yet powerful hand, we can be victors against the onslaught of powers that are greater than our frailty and limitations. The words of the great Apostle Paul speak of that truth to us in the following:
“We are hedged in (pressed) on every side – troubled and oppressed in every way; but not cramped or crushed; we suffer embarrassments and are perplexed and unable to find a way out, but not driven to despair;
We are (persecuted and hard driven), pursued, but not deserted – to stand alone; we are struck down to the ground, but never struck out and destroyed…”
(II Corinthians 4:8-9 – Amplified Bible)
Are there any “waves” in your life? Is there a rip current (undertow) that is “gnawing” at your feet and legs as you seek to stand in the shifting sands? Is there “whitewater” higher than your head that leaves you with a fear that you are about to be overwhelmed by the presence of its turbulence? Do you feel that you are beneath the surface of the pounding persistence of the water and in danger of drowning? If so, I encourage you to grasp the hand of the One who desires to lift you above the onslaught and see you through to victory over the temptations, tests and trials you are facing. It’s not hard to do. Grasping His hand is simply accomplished by acknowledging that we need a foundation stronger than any we can create for ourselves and that He alone is that sole foundation. Then we give Him all our burdens, our fears, our worries and our concerns and let Him see us through. Let Him lift you above the waters of temptation, test and trial that undermine your life and seek to destroy you. He is the only constant that is, was and ever shall be and He’s here for you. And He’s only a “shooting” prayer away.
©2007 Mel Menker
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