This week’s Memory Selection:
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.” –Jeremiah 29:11 [ESV]
Never Focus on the Fog
In 1952, thirty-one year old Florence Chadwick stepped into the chilly waters of the Pacific Ocean to start the 26 mile swim from Catalina Island to the California coastline. This was an attempt to become the first woman to swim across this vast expanse of ocean. She was flanked by small boats whose occupants kept an eye out for sharks and were ready to come to her rescue should she be injured or should she grow weary and unable to continue the strenuous journey.
The thick fog that was prevalent during this time of year only seemed to get thicker the further she swam. It was becoming more and more difficult for her to even see the boats that were accompanying her. In spite of the difficulties, however, she continued on for 15 hours in the cold, choppy waters.
She continued on for another hour. But then something happened. Her muscles were sore. She was cold. The fatigue and weariness had finally set in. Most importantly, her resolve began to waiver. Florence began to question her ability. It wasn’t long until she cried out to her mother, who was in a boat nearby, to be taken out of the water. Her mother shouted back, “You’re almost there. You can make it!”
Finally, physically and emotionally exhausted, she became still in the water. She had stopped swimming. It wasn’t until she had been taken out of the water and in the safe confines of the small boat that she discovered that she had stopped less than a mile from her goal.
During an interview the following day she is quoted as saying, “All I could see was the fog… …I think if I could have seen the shore, I would have made it.”
Have you ever felt like Florence did that day? We live our lives in a fog of trouble, anxiety, doubt, depression, health issues, problems on the job, unemployment, financial hardship and uncertainty, strained relationships…the list goes on and on. Let’s face it—we live in a world of constant struggle, severe suffering, and ultimate death. Some have aptly described life in our world as blood, sweat, and tears.
In times like these it’s easy to focus on the fog. If you’re not careful you can end up in a place where you don’t feel like going to church. You don’t want to pray. And you’re certainly not in the mood to forgive anyone. The only thing you want to do is to use what remaining strength that you do have to cry out, “I’m done! It’s over! I quit!”
The best advice I have ever been given I received from a former pastor during the very darkest time of my life. When the storms are raging and the waves are crashing all about you — when the fog is so heavy you’re not even sure you’re headed in the right direction, remember what you know about God and His Word. In an ever-changing world, these never change.
Let’s look at a few examples from God’s Word. The psalmist David was a man that could relate to the struggles that we face. Let’s hear what he has to say.
“From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed: lead me to the rock that is higher than I.” (Ps. 61:2)
“My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth.” (Ps 121:2)
“Our help is in the name of the LORD, who made heaven and earth.” (Ps.124:8)
The 143rd Psalm can be used when life’s fog has overwhelmed you. In it David not only describes his spiritual condition, he also gives us an example of how we can get through our adversities as well. Here’s what David did:
Verse 1 – David prayed. When you’re tired, when you’re weary, when it seems all is lost, pray. When you feel like praying the least is when you should pray the most. Pray!
Verse 2 – He acknowledged that he had faults. Repentance puts us in a mindset that allows God to touch us.
Verse 3 – He unburdened his soul before God. You should not air your complaints and frustrations to just anyone. God, however can be trusted. Tell Him.
Verse 4 – He acknowledged his spiritual needs (the condition of his spiritual man). Often times we can make a grocery list of the stuff we need but never mention the stuff we REALLY need.
Verse 5 – David reminisced about God, His Word, and the things that he had seen God do. This re-builds faith.
Verse 6 – David worshiped!! Nothing will bring the presence of the Lord faster than when we begin to lift our hands and praise Him for all He has already done.
Verse 8-10 – David turned over the reins of his life to God. At this point he is laying his burden down before the Lord and asking God to give him direction in the situation.
Verse 11 – David asked the Lord to refresh his spirit with new life. He recognized that he had lost the “joy of the Lord.”
Verse 12 – David laid claim to the promises that belong to every servant of God.
Two months after her first attempt, Florence Chadwick tried swimming the same course again. She had the same waves, the same cold water, and the same thick fog. This time, however, she did it. What was the secret to her success this time? She said that she kept a picture of the shoreline in her mind as she swam. She had learned a valuable lesson: Never focus on the fog.
“Thy word have I hid in mine heart, that I might not sin against thee.” Psalm 119:11
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