A light in every storm

NBRC

North Branch Reformed Church
on a cold and snowy evening

In the picture shown, the sun has gone down and it is dark and snowing outside, and through the trees a church with its steeple is lit.  God is calling; God is beckoning us to come in.  Do we accept God’s invitation to come in out of the cold and into His presence, or do we huddle around a fire outside that is burning low and just within short distance of warmth and safety?  In the song lyrics below, from a song that I wrote entitled “Of Which She Dreams and Prophesies”, a metaphor on life, Aunt Kate is an example of a strong godly person who endures life’s struggles and sorrows and finds refuge in God.  She is a survivor.  She has great faith in God and has no fears concerning the comfort and health of her family even in the severest of life’s winters, life’s challenges and storms.  She provides hope and assurance that the Son will come and melt away their snow.  God is there for them in life’s difficult situations, no matter how difficult they may seem.  With claims fantastic, she reaches out to God that He might extend His hand to them and bring them sanctuary.  To Kate, “nothing is insurmountable for God”.

December sun, where have you disappeared to?
We all sit round the fire mindful of the cold world in our lives
And now the night time fire burns low
We’re off to bed its late now,
and as I move I hurry for I’m cold …

Tells of the coming snowstorms
The north wind blew, we heard the roar
A whirlwind of a blinding storm
Raged all night, Raged all night.

“The white drift piled my window frame
And through the glass the clothes line posts
Looked in like tall and sheeted ghosts”
We’re snowbound, We’re snowbound!

So all night long the storm roared on
“A fenceless drift what once was road …
Low drooping pine-boughs winter-weighed”
We prayed and we prayed
Please Lord let the snow melt. Please Lord let the snow melt.

But in her room, my aunt Kate prayed
“With hope each day renewed and fresh,
The Lord’s quick coming in the flesh
Whereof she dreams and prophesies.”

“Faint and more faint the murmurs grew”
In reverence bowed before our Lord,
we prayed for hearts are light and life that’s new
Whereof she dreams and prophesies.

No sooner than we said that prayer
We heard a knock upon our door
and then we knew God caused the snow to melt
Of which she dreamed and prophesied.

(by Bill Hutzel … some quotes from “Snowbound” by John Greenleaf Whittier)

Does God sometimes feel distant?  Do our spirits sometimes feel confined by the heavy snows and drifts of life, or are you someone who is more like the stalwart and faithful Aunt Kate who was able to believe God for a miracle; for the Son to come and melt away her family’s feelings of hopelessness, disappointments and sorrows, and return hope and joy back into their life?  For many of us, I think, our problems seem so great that even God cannot solve them, God feels distant, and we feel “snowbound”.  We pray and it seems as if God does not hear nor answer.  Is there no shelter or warmth?  Is there no reprieve?  I too have to remind myself at times that God is only a short distance away, and that He is within my reach should I call out to Him to rescue me.

Unfortunately, not all of us endure life’s hardships.  Captain Robert Scott’s Antarctic expedition of 1910 ended in tragedy with him and his crew perishing.  Scott and his crew were frozen, exhausted, and disappointed as they began their return trip after reaching the Antarctic pole and having discovered that Roald Amundsen reached the South Pole first.  On March 11, 1912, Scott and his team setup camp for the last time during a raging blizzard.  Huddled down in their tent, they succumbed to the elements and hardship.  Only had they known, they were only a short distance from their home base where there was food and shelter.  We too are so close to God’s sanctuary, yet some of us also fail to realize it.  Perhaps if we would only reach out and find Him, for He is not far from any one of us (Acts 17:27).  Will you go the distance?

Have you set up your last camp?  Have you succumbed to life’s struggles, disappointments, and sorrows, or are you someone who is determined to survive the expedition you are on? Life is full of hazardous twists and turns, detours and pitfalls, but with God as your refuge and strength, He will bring you around and through them.  And if you feel like giving up and it seems as if God does not hear nor answer you, know this that God is there contrary to what you might feel or think.

Unlike Captain Scott and his expedition team, take hope in that God is your refuge and is able to keep you from perishing.  Believe God’s promise that nothing is insurmountable for Him and that He is your refuge in times of trouble.  Psalm 46:1 says “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.”  It is comforting to know that God is there for me when I need Him, a place of sanctuary.  Take hope in that Jesus will never leave you; nor will He ever forsake you (Hebrews 13:5).   Don’t give up!  Don’t succumb to life’s struggles, disappointments and sorrows for He is a light in every storm.

Prayer:  You are my strength when I am weak, You are the lifter of my head (Psalm 18:1-2).  May You invite me in to your sanctuary when I feel abandoned and lonely and full of despair.   Be my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock, in whom I take refuge.  Renew me, refresh me daily.

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel

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For as he thinks within himself, so he is

“For as he thinks within himself, so he is.” (Proverbs 23:7)

Portrait75cWhen I was a very small boy, I wanted to be “Davy Crockett”. I was so captivated by the person of Davy Crockett, that I not only would look forward to watching the Walt Disney television series about him with Fess Parker in the leading role, but I would also dress up like him and act out the role as a child.  I can also remember my Dad taking me down to our local record shop and buying me the hit single, the Ballad of Davy Crockett” “Davy, Davy Crockett, king of the wild frontier.”

One day, my grandfather, who was a barber, asked me, “Billy, do you want me to cut your hair so that you look like Davy Crockett with a raccoon tail?”   Of course, he was only kidding, but I don’t know if at the time I thought he was kidding as I was only 5 or 6 years old, and very gullible.  Everyone thought, I am sure, that that was adorable, but as we mature into adults, many of us today, because of dissatisfaction with who we are, also dwell on and cast ourselves in roles that are not particularly suited to us.

 

The notion that we are what we eat or that which we dwell on is portrayed humorously in the following conversation between Basil, a middle class English writer, and Zorba, a Greek peasant, from the book “Zorba the Greek”.   The phrase you are what you eat, however, is not to be taken literally herein, but rather connotes that which the mind ingests has a bearing on one’s state of mind.

(Zorba) “Tell me what you do with the food you eat, and I’ll tell you who you are. Some turn their food into fat and manure, some into work and good humor, and others, I’m told, into God. So there must be three sorts of men. I’m not one of the worst, boss, nor yet one of the best. I’m somewhere in between the two. What I eat I turn into work and good humor. That’s not too bad, after all!’

(Basil) He looked at me wickedly and started laughing.

(Zorba) As for you, boss, he said, ‘I think you do your level best to turn what you eat into God. But you can’t quite manage it, and that torments you. The same thing’s happening to you as happened to the crow.’

(Basil) ‘What happened to the crow, Zorba?’

(Zorba) ‘Well, you see, he used to walk respectably, properly – well, like a crow. But one day he got it into his head to try and strut about like a pigeon. And from that time on the poor fellow couldn’t for the life of him recall his own way of walking. He was all mixed up, don’t you see? He just hobbled about.”
Nikos Kazantzakis, Zorba the Greek
How many of us are dissatisfied with who we are and our circumstances, and also try our level best to change things but can’t quite manage it?  Because discontent lurks in every person’s heart, we oftentimes try to change who we are, our God given talents, brains and physical appearance, and also our situations, and sometimes it is at grave cost.  Unfortunately, many of us who look in the mirror and wish we were someone else, end up tormented like the crow, and hobble about, all mixed up.

But don’t misunderstand me.  There is nothing wrong with aspiring to be something or wanting to change our circumstances, just as long as it is a realistic possibility and ordained of God for me as a person.  Regardless of who I am and my circumstances, the Bible teaches that I should be content.  In Philippians 4:12-13, Paul learned to be content in whatever his circumstances and even with his physical infirmity for he says “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want.  I can do everything through Him who gives me strength.”  Note: the secret of Paul’s strength was not in himself, but in knowing that Jesus Christ was the source of his strength.  Paul was content because Jesus was his all sufficiency.

Whatever your situation, whatever your dissatisfaction with life, whether it be self-esteem, your job, your spouse, etc., ratC.-S.-Lewis-Believe-Quotes-1her than begrudging these things and wishing you were someone else, choose to look in the mirror and focus on “whatever is right, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is fair, whatever is pure, whatever is acceptable, whatever is commendable, if there is anything of excellence and if there is anything praiseworthy—keep thinking about these things.” (Philippians 4:8, ISV).  The Bible teaches that we are changed by the things we behold or that which we dwell on.  C.S. Lewis said- “We are who we believe we are”.  Believers in Christ who behold in the mirror, or who “contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18, NIV).

Copyright 2014 by Bill Hutzel

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