Posted by: pastortomvabeach | April 30, 2013

Thought for the Week May 5, 2013

Dan Henderson wrote this week, “Tragedy has a way of testing the heart. It also has a way of revealing the truth. Because it’s in the chaos of life’s tragedies, and how you react to them, that you learn the truth about yourself: what you believe about God, what you believe about yourself, what really matters…how you answer life’s deepest questions. We must know where we stand, because eventually tragedy touches us all.”

With that he recounted the story of a friend of his, Greg, who was at the finish line of the Boston marathon with his family at exactly the moment that the two bombs exploded. He and his wife and three children, all under 12, “witnessed the front-row carnage, including the tragic death of an 8-year-old boy.” He and his wife described the experience “as one of unparalleled vulnerability and horror.” Yet is was in “those moments of unanticipated testing that Greg fully realized the value of knowing the answers to life’s deepest questions.”

What does that mean? In the few months prior to the bombing, Greg had been involved with a group of pastors who were working through a “process of clarifying some of the core questions of the soul.” They were reviewing Bible truth about God’s character, man’s dependence on God, and God’s promises, then writing and memorizing biblical answers to life’s greatest questions.

Henderson says, “On the afternoon after the bombing, Greg recounted these declarations. He leaned heavily on them. He affirmed himself again and again with what he had written: ‘God is unchanging, good, faithful, holy, sovereign, almighty, gracious, condescending, merciful, loving, righteous, kind, the Father, the Lord, communicative, and worthy.’ ‘Therefore…He will care for me, keep His promises, reveal Himself, accomplish His desires, guard me, allow difficulties and trials, never give me more than I can bear, mold me into Christ’s likeness.’ ‘So…I will rest, trust, sacrifice, live with abandon, full-tilt, be unashamed, confident, not self-conscious, cling to hope, embrace my humanity/weaknesses, care for others, never stop learning, growing, seeking to know more and express more of our awesome God to anyone who will listen.’

“Greg recounts: ‘Having these realities memorized made the truth accessible. I was refreshed, rejuvenated, and lifted. The world literally blew up right in front of my face. But God did not blow up… This very concrete, practical engagement with God’s character through this process assured me that I was absolutely invincible until the Lord calls me home.'”

Friends, this is a powerful testimony and challenge. In the midst of a chaotic, tense, and terrifying situation, Greg didn’t need to call someone for Scriptural encouragement or strength. Because he had taken the time to learn God’s truth for himself, because he had personally committed the Scriptures and their teaching to his memory, he said, “the truth was accessible.” Because he had the truth in his heart, readily available, it sustained him through that day and the days that followed while his neighborhood was being searched (he lived in the area where the bombing suspect was caught).

The Psalmist says, Your word is a lamp unto my feet and light unto my path. (Psalm 119:105) The prophet Isaiah said, Thus says the LORD…’Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by your name; you are Mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow you. When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned, nor shall the flame scorch you. For I am the LORD your God, (Isaiah 43:1-3). Many, many other Scriptures assure us of God’s love, protection, guidance, etc.

It is easy to read and affirm these passages when we are at ease but when things begin to happen rapid fire, when danger occurs and we don’t have a Bible nor the space in life to look up the Scriptures, do we have them readily available so we can stand? What Greg learned and we need to grasp is that we must invest during the peaceful times in life, when we may not feel the need for God’s power, encouragement, support. Actually, we need Him all the time. But, again, if we invest in studying His attributes, memorizing His promises, rehearsing His powerful greatness, during the calm moments in life, when everything breaks loose, His Word will be there, in our hearts, ready to uphold and carry us through the fire and water or whatever!

I think a good illustration of this would be much like owning a firearm for personal protection. If I get a weapon, put it in the closet or drawer, and only think about it when a threat arises, it may no do me much good. First, I may not know how to use it so I need to practice. Second, I may not have kept it clean, unrusty, ready for action. Third, if I don’t have it available when the threat arises, what good is it to me?

The Word of God works the same. If I keep my Bible on the coffee table except for carrying it to church, if I don’t open it and get familiar with it’s truths, if I don’t have it in my heart readily accessible, what good is it to me when life begins to heat up, when trouble comes? What do I have to draw on?

Many thanks to Rev. Daniel Henderson. Once again, he’s written a devotional that challenged me and should do the same for all of us. Are you ready for things to blow up or turn upside down? Take the time, no, make the time, to get intimately acquainted with God’s Word and with it’s Author. Get His truth in your heart, whatever it takes. Join with a group of others who are committed to the same thing, find a study guide (like Navigators materials) that points you into the deeper truths and encourages memorization, make yourself accountable to someone to keep His truths fresh in your heart. You will not be disappointed when things go boom! Just a thought.

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