January 18, 2005
Encouragement for Today
"Swimming With Sharks"
Van Walton, Proverbs 31 Certified Speaker and Director of Spanish Ministries
"I do not ask you to take them out of the world, but I do ask you to keep them safe from the Evil One." John 17:15 (GNT)
I was chatting with girlfriends over lunch one day. We were mothers and wives, women who live in today's world surrounded by television, newspapers, radio, and magazines - bombarded with way too much information. As we talked about parenting, the conversation spiraled. We shared our fears for our children and the choices they face. We admitted that we sometimes don't hold out much hope for their futures. The world, we agreed, often seems to be a bleak place for our innocent babes.
"We are swimming with the sharks." These words caught our attention. Cyndi, the wife of our school's headmaster had made the statement. "Our family spends vacations by the ocean," she claimed. "We snorkel a lot." She proceeded to tell us that one day she noticed a large shark swimming in the waters off the beach where they were playing in the sand and sunbathing. Normally, she would have been in the water with the children enjoying the colorful life that exists in the deep clear sea water. This particular day she had longed to go into the water, but for some reason had left her mask behind. She assured us that she never leaves her snorkeling gear. It is something she always packs before heading to the water's edge. She had even considered walking back to retrieve her swimming toys, but continually put it off. The fact that she had spotted this huge creature from afar and not from 'up close and personal' caused her to pause and consider her family's potential peril. Would she allow her children back into the water?
Later, she mentioned the shark to her friend, a helicopter pilot who regularly patrolled the beach. "There are always sharks in the water," he told her. As she pondered the fact that they had possibly missed a close call with a monster from the deep, she began to understand human frailty, the power and sovereignty of God, His love and mercy and, of course, the obvious protection He offers to each of His children.
We are always "swimming with sharks". We may not always be in deep waters surrounded by predators seeking to devour us, but as long as we live on this earth, there are dangers lurking all around. That may sound like an ominous statement and one we don't necessarily want to hear. However, there is a positive side to this idea and the final destination of our conversation.
We recalled the close calls we had growing up. We shared bad choices we made as teenagers. In awe, our exchange led us to God's wonderful provision. He had brought each one of us to this booth at this restaurant to discuss life's issues. We remembered the prayers of our mothers as well as the protection of our fathers. We celebrated the fact that those prayers kept us alive, physically and spiritually. Yes, we agreed that every day, God's angels protected us or our loved ones from an out-of-control car on the highway or a sniper-gone-crazy in our favorite fast food joint. There are deadly germs hiding everywhere and debilitating trials grabbing at us daily. God has kept us from encountering the bulk of what the world would throw at us to bring us down, to chew us up and destroy our lives. We are truly kept in the palm of His hand.
We ended our lunch with greater confidence, praising God for creating us with a purpose and thanking Him for His promises to be with us forever. (Matthew 28; 20) God is always at work around us, a truth that holds great peace for us all.
My prayer for today:
Heavenly Protector, when I despair of the world around me, when my heart quakes in fear, when I lose hope, please remind me that your presence is everywhere. I do believe that you are saving me everyday from perils I cannot see. Help me in my unbelief! Amen.
After reading Romans 8:35 - 39 write your own thoughts, making a list of all your fears, concerns, and worries ending with, "nothing shall be able to separate [me] from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus [my] Lord.
When you sense that the world's negativity has a strong hold on you, play the "yes, but" game. Here is an example: "My child is not adjusting well to school. Yes, but we are praying for him and teaching him to love others. His teacher is aware and involved." or "The television is constantly bombarding my family with unwholesome scenes. Yes, but there are fantastic videos that are family friendly and academically challenging."
Paul often "swam with sharks". Read his accounts to understand how he overcame adversity and temptation in 2 Corinthians 11.
Take time to remember some of your own close calls. Praise God for His protection.
When you are overcome by fear of the unseen, read the verses to this age old hymn:
"Oh God, Our Help in Ages Past" by Isaac Watts
"Oh God, our help in ages past,
Our hope for years to come,
Our shelter from the stormy blast,
And our eternal home.
Under the shadow of Thy throne
Thy saints have dwelt secure;
Sufficient is Thine arm alone,
And our defense is sure.
Before the hills in order stood,
Or earth received her frame,
From everlasting Thou art God,
To endless years the same."
"Which of you by worrying can add one cubit to his stature?" Matthew 6:27 - 34 (NKJV)
"We know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 (NRS)
"We are pressed on every side by troubles, but we are not crushed and broken. We are perplexed, but we don't give up and quit. We are often troubled, but not crushed; sometimes in doubt, but never in despair." 2 Corinthians 4:8 (NLT)
"He Himself has said, "I will never leave you nor forsake you." Hebrews 13:5 (NKJV)
"My purpose in writing is simply this: that you who believe in God's Son will know beyond the shadow of a doubt that you have eternal life, the reality and not the illusion." I John 5:13 (The Message)
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