The people of Israel were land lovers for whom the sea was something to be feared. You can see that in the way that troubles are often described as going through deep waters and storms. Time and time again, God’s people affirm that the Lord has been faithful and delivered them through the waters (Psalm 18:16, 124:4-5). We’ve been going through our own little storm in the last few days where things have been thrown into confusion and we have had to rely on the Lord to lead us through.
The weekend with Roger Carswell had been planned for some time started very well with the first two events proceeding without a hitch. As posted earlier the Beach Night was a really good event and the Lady’s Meal on Friday evening was also a great success.
The storm broke in the early hours of Saturday morning when Roger received the news that his mother had passed away. I’m sure many of us will feel for Roger, being so far away from home when he heard the news. In the circumstances, the only option was for Roger to return home which he did mid morning. The loss of a parent is an experience shared by many and though we know its inevitability, we can never be truly prepared.
On Saturday afternoon, I then received a call from Huw, who was due to sing that evening, to tell me that he had completely lost his voice. Thankfully Huw’s wife Liz, herself a renowned professional singer, kindly agreed to step in. Huw and Liz already had a very busy schedule over the weekend, so this represented a considerable commitment on their part.
For the Saturday evening event, Garin, who was due to be interviewed by Roger, arrived in plenty of time but it was soon clear he was not at all well. He had only just returned from climbing Mount Kilimanjaro this week and had obviously not had time to recover. It would have been easy for Garin or Huw and Liz to cancel the booking, after all no one could have blamed them. The fact that they came at all bears witness to the fact that they have a story to share with others, whether in song or through personal testimony, of God’s love for fallen human beings.
In the end things went well, both on Saturday evening and on Sunday morning, we knew God’s power through it all and perhaps we are learning to rely on his power all the more. We pray that the message will take root in the hearts of those who heard it.
Most will know the story (this one is actually true) of a young guy of fifteen years who entered a church in Colchester as a result of a blizzard. As it happens, the preacher was unable to get to the church due to the snow so one of the leaders stood up to preach. The stand in hadn’t prepared a message so he kept repeating the verse from Isaiah 45:22 “Look unto me, and be ye saved, all the ends of the earth, for I am God, and there is none else.” The young man responded to the message and trusted Christ that night; he was CH Spurgeon, later known as the ‘Prince of Preachers’.
There is a storm at sea in the Gospels, seasoned fishermen are frightened and think that their end has come. When they wake the Lord Jesus, who had been sleeping in the stern of the boat, he calmed the storm with a command which left the disciples terrified and saying “Who is this? Even the wind and the waves obey him!” The thing is, Jesus was in the boat all along, and he wasn’t ambivalent to their plight.
So in the storm, if God can use a donkey to say what needs to be said (Numbers 22:28), he can use anyone since it’s the Holy Spirit who does the work. Secondly, if our hope is in the Lord, he is in the boat and he will bring us home.
Please pray for all of those who heard the message over the extended weekend and also for Roger and his family at this sad time.
Some of the words of the hymn ‘How firm a foundation’ have come to mind, particularly the third verse.
How firm a foundation, ye saints of the Lord,
Is laid for your faith in His excellent Word!
What more can He say than to you He hath said,
You, who unto Jesus for refuge have fled?
Fear not, I am with thee, O be not dismayed,
For I am thy God and will still give thee aid;
I’ll strengthen and help thee, and cause thee to stand
Upheld by My righteous, omnipotent hand.
When through the deep waters I call thee to go,
The rivers of woe shall not thee overflow;
For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless,
And sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine.
The soul that on Jesus has leaned for repose,
I will not, I will not desert to its foes;
That soul, though all hell should endeavour to shake,
I’ll never, no never, no never forsake.