Many years ago I was in New Zealand and visited a beach on the west coast. The beach was covered by smooth rounded stones about the size, (appropriately enough), of a kiwi fruit. I had walked a fair way out when I looked down at an interesting stone. My glasses slipped of my face and fell at my feet. Before I could reach down and get them, a wave came out of the Tasman Sea and up the gentle slope of the beach.
The first wave was up to my calves. Before it fully receded another came. Up to my knees. I knew if I moved my chances of finding my glasses would be slim to none. I ground my feet into the rocky surface and held on. The next wave was up to my waist. When the fourth wave came up to my mid chest, I got a little nervous. If the next one was up to my neck, (or higher), I would have to move. Fortunately the waves had reached their peak and the water level dropped back down.
In a few moments the beach was exposed again and there, a few feet from where I was still standing, were my glasses. If I had moved or yielded to the actions of the waves, I probably would never have found them.
Sometimes life is like that. Problems and troubles come our way. We get buffeted by tests and trials. The waves threaten to overwhelm us or to wash away our foundation. Unless we are firmly fixed we can lose our way and lose contact with what is important. Jesus said that one “who comes to me and hears my words and puts them into practice . . . is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on rock. When a flood came, the torrent struck the house but could not shake it.” Luke 6: 47-48 (NIV)
Build your life upon the rock.
Sadly troubles and problems are not the only thing that can shake us and pull us away from the things that are so vital. Faith, truth and love are what God offers and what we so desperately need. Just as troubles can divert us from these good gifts so can the other end of the spectrum, that is, the pleasures of this world.
I recently attended a graduation ceremony and the main speaker Rev. Robert Parkman shared a story. Native Americans developed an effective, (if gory), way of ridding their winter encampments of wolves. They would take an extremely sharp knife, dip the blade in blood and then allow the blood to freeze. This would be repeated many times until the blade was covered by a thick layer of frozen blood. A blood popsicle.
The knife would then be firmly fastened to the ground and left with the blade pointing upward. Soon enough a wolf would approach, drawn by the scent of blood. It would begin to lick the blood from the blade. As the frozen blood wore away the blade would be exposed, but the wolf would continue to lick and feast. The pleasure it received from the blood was too great for it to stop. As the sharp edge was uncovered the wolf would unwittingly lacerate its tongue on it. The blood it was now tasting was its own.
But it still would not stop. The wolf would continue to lick the knife blade. Overwhelmed by pleasure, it continued until at last, it died.
God warns us against this trap. Proverbs 14:12 tells us “There is a way that seems right to a man, but in the end it leads to death.” (NIV) Pleasure and pain. Either one can pull our focus away from God and lead us away from the path He has called us to. Guard yourselves against either danger but above all remember that He never ceases to call us back, or to stop waiting for us with open arms.