When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior. … Isaiah 43:2-3a.
A few years ago the Chinese government finished construction on a giant dam. When work was done and the great gates were closed, the water behind the dam rose and flooded the valley behind. One-time hills were transformed into islands, which grew smaller as the water came up. On these shrinking pieces of property the wild animals took refuge. The government knew this would happen and had made plans to save those wild beasts. A small armada of small boats had been brought in and were equipped with ropes, snares, nets and cages. The hardy souls manning those vessels set out to visit the islands and save the animals. It was a wonderful idea.
Do you know what happened? Well, I can tell you what didn’t happen. The animals did not race to the lifeboats yelling, “Take me! Take me!” No, unbelievable as it sounds, the wild creatures resisted capture. When they were caught, they fought back — even to the point of total exhaustion. Many of the rescuers were bitten, scratched and bruised, as they tried to save the ungrateful little beasts. Some of the more powerful and skillful of the animals eluded their rescuers or, if they were captured, they managed to escape.
Others, rather than being captured, launched themselves into the rising water and ended up dying. In their superior wisdom, the men knew what was best, but the animals were unable to understand.
In many ways, the story of those animals, is our story too. Let me ask, what do people do when difficulties, tragedies and problems come their way? What are the common reactions to the rising waters of life? What do people do when their islands get smaller? Many of them follow the example of the animals. Their first reaction is to save themselves by climbing toward higher ground.
That may work for a while, but if the pressure keeps coming, it’s only a temporary solution. Life is such that there are times when, no matter how hard a person works or how high they climb, the rising waters of life will sweep them away. Other people, like the animals, try to make a swim for it. They try to get as far away from the problem as they can. They don’t realize they are struggling against overwhelming forces. Isaiah wrote, we know when we pass through the waters Jesus will be with us.
Dear Lord, grant that my faith in Jesus may be unstoppable and unshakable. May I always know that I may turn to Jesus when the waters are rising, knowing that he will always be there. Amen.
Grace and Peace
P.S. Today loading the car all of a sudden I noticed that my shorts were wet. Come to find out it had nothing to do with being an old retiring preacher but carrying a box in which hummingbird liquid food spilled all over my shorts. To my relief I was not attacked by hummingbirds, but Shirley has now given me a new nickname: Sugar-shorts. Yes, it is time to retire.