On May 18, 2014, I took my son, Jedidiah to Pine Lake Camps, where he is working as part of the maintenance crew for the summer. I came home excited for my time with God but also with great trepidation for He had revealed to me that this would not be an easy time, but a stormy time in my heart and life.
So, let’s back up a moment and see what God revealed to me the week before my summer Sabbatical begins.
I’ve been studying the book of Acts this year. Last week, I was reading through Acts 27:1-44, the Apostle Paul is on his way to Rome. During this time they encounter some storms on the sea as they are trying to make it to Rome safely. There are some interesting things that stuck out to me and hit me right between the eyes. Was I ready for what was to come?
First, in verses 9-12, Paul warns them of disaster to come, but they did not listen to him. They were more concerned about the harbor not being suitable for wintering then for the impending danger to come. They wanted to move on and possibly make it to their destination before winter. They are taking off around August or September. It is late in the season, not a good time to be traveling.
Many times God gives us warnings and asks us to wait patiently on Him, but we think that we know better. We can’t wait. We need to move now. If we wait any longer we will miss the window of opportunity to serve Him, or to do something that we think is a good thing to do. But the time may not be right for this move. God gives us warnings for our good, if we will just wait on Him to direct our steps.
I’m reminded of a saying I once heard, “Doing the right thing at the wrong time is still the wrong thing”. How many times have I done the right thing but it was at the wrong time and later there were some consequences. Not always the best thing to do.
Second, in verses 13 – 20, they started out because the wind was a nice, gentle breeze, but it soon turned into a hurricane force “northeaster”. It came up suddenly and threw them off course. They started to throw the cargo over board to lighten the ship. After many days of not seeing the sun or stars the people on board began to lose hope.
There are times in our lives when it looks like we should make that next move and get started on the thing that God has asked us to do, but then there is a storm, a struggle, a challenge that comes up and throws us back and forth on the waves of life. After many days of struggling and feeling like there is no way out we start to lose hope and want to give up. We become so discouraged thinking that there is no place to go.
Third, in verses 21-38, Paul tells the men they need to eat, for they had not eaten in fourteen (14) days. The food will give them strength for what laid ahead. He gives them words of encouragement, no one will be lost only the ship will be destroyed. Some did not believe what Paul said and tried to escape. But all had to stay together or be lost. After they ate, they threw the rest of the food overboard, as well.
Many times we have situations in our lives that may cause us to be afraid, not sure of the next step, or what is happening around us. God may ask us to throw off the extra cargo that holds us down. Or maybe to throw over the extra tack. Maybe even the extra food.
We only need to hold on to Jesus for today’s needs. He will get us through the situation. We need to stay focused on Him and what He asks of us in our lives for today. For our strength to be renewed we need to eat the daily food of God’s Word. Through off the extra things and focus solely on His Word, not the words of others.
The things we throw off are the things that entangle us, slow us down, the extra baggage from a former relationship, or situation that we just haven’t let go of yet. We need to lighten the load. Sometimes that may even mean getting rid of the good things in our life to focus on the best things. Sometimes those good things pull us down.
Fourth, in verses 39-41, we see that they saw land (hope) and went for it. They got stuck on the sandbar and the boat was destroyed, but all 276 people on board the ship made it safely to shore. They lost everything but their lives.
Sometimes that is where we are at in our lives. We need to lose everything, throw it off, but cling to God, the only One who can set us free and keep us safe. He is our hope and strength.
God may ask us to stick together to make it through a tough time. Or He may ask us to throw off the things that hold us down and entangle us. Things that keep us from serving Him fully. Even at times, we may need to cut the lifeboats in order to cling to what is most important.
So, before Jedidiah left, and my summer Sabbatical began, God had shown me that I am in the middle of a storm and needing to throw off the cargo, the ship tack, as well as cut loose the lifeboats. That was what He and I were going to be doing this summer.
I know that God is going to do some amazing things in my heart and I prayed that I would be able to weather the storm and turn out better, stronger, still holding onto the truth that God is God. And that He is my only love.
God even asked me to let go of Jedidiah, one of my lifeboats, and learn to trust Him once again. Jedidiah is gone this summer for me to realize that I cannot depend on him always being here. It is time to let go. Let him grow up and be the man that God has called him to be. I have done my job. The rest is now up to God. Yes, there are still a few things that I am needed for in his life, but not as much. I am needing to let him go. One of my lifeboats is being cut loose.
So, as I entered this Sabbatical with God alone, I entered it with great anticipation and great fear of what is to come. I am already finding out that He has a bigger plan than I could ever imagine. He has already begun the chiseling of the rough spots, so there must be much for us to accomplish for me to be ready to be used for Him in the future.
Lord, As I begin this journey with You may I look to You to be my strength, my courage, my stronghold. I let go and trust You as we go through this storm together. The storm of letting go and letting You direct my next steps. Thank You for always being there and guiding me to what is next in my life. Thank You for taking the chisel to my life and making the rough into something beautiful. In Jesus’ Name Amen.