Swim the last half mile
Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it as a representative of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father. – Colossians 3:17
8 Live as children of light
14 for the light makes everything visible. This is why it is said, “Awake, O sleeper, rise up from the dead, and Christ will give you light.”
15 So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise.
16 Make the most of every opportunity in these evil days.
17 Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do.
18 Don’t be drunk with wine, because that will ruin your life. Instead, be filled with the Holy Spirit,
19 singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs among yourselves, and making music to the Lord in your hearts.
20 And give thanks for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
In 1952, young Florence Chadwick stepped into the waters of the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island, determined to swim to the shore of mainland California. She’d already been the first woman to swim the English Channel both ways. The weather was foggy and chilly; she could hardly see the boats accompanying her. Still, she swam for fifteen hours. When she begged to be taken out of the water along the way, her mother, in a boat alongside, told her she was close and that she could make it. Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she stopped swimming and was pulled out. It wasn’t until she was on the boat that she discovered the shore was less than half a mile away.
At a news conference the next day she said, “All I could see was the fog . . .. I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it” (Randy Alcorn).
It seems as though our dark and fallen world is constantly a miasma of deceptive fog. The haze distorts our vision which in turn interferes with our thinking and emotions.
2 Corinthians 11:14 Even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light.
The Scriptures provide basic life principles which are applicable in real-life situations. It is incumbent upon us to spend our lives learning these principles and then consciously purpose to live them out. One all-inclusive principle is that our words and actions are to be reflective of the Lord Jesus Christ.
When faced with a question regarding how to respond to the circumstances in which we find ourselves, Paul encouraged us to simply ask ourselves what conduct would be appropriate for one identified with Christ (Constable).
When we face difficulties and pray seeking the will of the Father, a persistent pattern emerges. Rather than the Father changing our circumstances, He uses our circumstances to change us.
The Father sometimes uses the prayers of the children of the King in ways we do not expect. Often, He uses our prayers to teach us and help us grow to maturity. When we finally realize this, it is transformational.
Effective prayer is the channel through which a two-way connection is established between us and the Father, living God. Prayer is a vital connection through which the Father’s remarkable life force flows. We simply receive and welcome His delightful kindness, goodness, and love.
The Father is at work within our hearts. His method of choice is to transform us from the inside out. He utilizes a unique and marvelous combination of gentle, loyal, tough love.
REFLECT & PRAY
Paul’s admonition covers all aspects of life. Everything is encompassed with the all-inclusive words “whatever you do” and “in word or deed” (Melick).
Father, sadly, the circumstances of life overwhelm me all too often. Help me to reaffirm my desire and purpose to reflect the Lord Jesus Christ in all that I do and say.
When we became children of the King, we were cut free from the anchors of our past lives. They no longer hold us in bondage. The enemy takes special pleasure in reminding us of our chains. As an inexperienced dog owner, he heaps shame and guilt upon us with accusations. He delights in condemning and announcing us with words. “How could you do that?” “How could you make a mess like?” “And you call yourself a child of the King?”
In stark contrast, the Father reminds us of our freedom. He comforts each of us over and over again with soft words and kindness. He affirms that we are no longer what we once were. We are a new creation in the Lord Jesus Christ. He is actively renewing our minds and transforming us. We are becoming more and more like His Son.
The two inaudible voices are always there in the background. But it is up to us to choose which voice we will listen to. Will we do the right thing or will we chose poorly? The magnificent reality is that we are no longer prisoners of the bondage of our past. We have been made free indeed. The Father has made it possible for us to successfully navigate our way through life despite the seemingly overwhelming difficulties we face.
1 Corinthians 10:13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, that you may be able to endure it.
Concerning temptation three things are clear. Temptation is the ever-present reality in the life of every child of the King. Temptations that come our way are not unique. Others have faced similar things, endured, and overcome. With every temptation, the Father graciously, faithfully provides a means of exfiltration (Barclay).
The Father is faithful. We can place total confidence in Him. He is right there with us in all that we go through. He is by our side. The temptations themselves are like gas-powered lawnmowers. Eventually, they simply ran out of gas and stop. Before they do, we can be certain that our faithful Father is there to enable us to endure them.
How can it be true that He will provide the way of escape and at the same time that we may be able to endure it? Escape and endurance are two sides of the same coin. He provides both “the appropriate way out” and “the appropriate way to endure the test” (UBS).
The Greek word translated way of escape is ekbasis. Ekbasis is literally a way out, hence a way of escape. “The word that Paul uses is vivid (ekbasis). It means a way out of a mountain pass. The idea is of an army apparently surrounded and then suddenly seeing an escape route to safety. No one need fall to any temptation, for with the temptation there is the way out, and the way out is not the way of surrender nor of retreat, but the way of conquest in the power of the grace of God” (Barclay).
It is incumbent upon us to find the way out and choose to finish, fog in all. Indeed we can make it through the final mist obscured half-mile. Through the eyes of faith, we are able to see the end goal through the mist.
“God intends that His children act as beacons of light in a dark world, as lighthouses showing the way to spiritual safety for those about to sink into the abyss” (Stanley).