Encouragement 08-11-04


August 11, 2004
Encouragement for Today
Life's Riptides
Sharon Glasgow, Speaker/ Writer Proverbs 31 Speaker Team
Key Verse:  
"For I know the plans I have for you says the Lord, plans to prosper you and bring you hope. Call upon me and I will listen to you. . . I will bring you back from your captivity." Jeremiah 29: 11-14 

After waiting for months the time had finally come! We were excited as we drove closer until the beach and ocean came into view.  The kids were taking their safety belts off before we got to our street, pleading for daddy not to make them carry anything so they could make the fastest trek possible down the sandy beach into the ocean.  Before Dale could get the keys out of the ignition, the children slung open the doors and darted toward their dream.  The ocean air whipped through the open van, and at that point, I knew we were officially on vacation.  Every year since the day we married, we had made Nags Head Beach our vacation spot.  But this year something different appeared on the dunes.  Bright red signs were posted, no one was allowed in the water due to severe riptides and dangerous waves.
The word "disappointed" could hardly describe the kid's reaction to this catastrophic moment. Dale, desperate to enjoy the beach, couldn't possibly believe that the conditions were bad enough to warrant him staying out of the water. As he walked into the water for a trial dip, a beach police officer came speeding down the shore in his dune buggy before my husband's knees even got wet.  The officer militantly warned us that if we even put our feet in the water again, we would be penalized with a ticket. 
The red flags stayed posted for the whole vacation! While the kids built sand castles, I buried myself in God's Word.  I came across the story of Elijah at Mt. Carmel, found in I Kings 19.  The whole story paralleled our riptide week.  The lesson was about how to survive the riptides of life.
The story starts with the grand display of God's supernatural power, Elijah and the prophets of Baal wanting to prove which God is the true God. They set up altars and prayed that the real God would send fire from heaven to light the fire.  Elijah poured water all over the wood just to up the ante. After the day of praying the God of the universe sent fire from heaven! The fire consumed the heathen's idol, Baal.  Can you imagine? It was an awesome display of the real God's power! God then kills every false prophets. Wow! Elijah had to be on an adrenaline high about this time. 
The story changes now to the evil Queen Jezebel who is furious.  She sends death threats to Elijah through a messenger.  She's angry that he made a fool out of her and her god, so she wants to show him she still has power.  Now when Elijah hears this, his adrenaline drops and depression sets in.  He runs to the hills like a mad man, collapsing under a broom tree, begging God to take his life.  He's hopeless.  Doom and gloom invade his every thought until he falls asleep.
I was disappointed with Elijah.  How could he respond that way after what God had done for him at Mt. Carmel? Instantly God reminded me of how I had reacted to a severe blow right before our vacation.  My response was not much different from Elijah's.  Elijah made the long journey to God's mountain, Mt. Horeb, so that he could complain to God and seek his power.  God showed him strong winds, an earthquake and fire but warned that He was not in any of these.  Then Elijah heard God's still small voice say, "Elijah why are you here?  Go back to the place from which you ran.  I'm providing a friend for you and further more there are 7000 others who did not bow to Baal waiting for your return. 
Elijah had run right into the raging waters of despair.  For 40 days and nights, he lived in fear and discouragement. He reacted to life's circumstances by panicking and begging for death.  When he finally calmed down enough to listen to God, he realized that God really had everything under control.  God was simply waiting for Elijah to trust Him.  What a mirror of our lives, what an illustration for us today.
The signs at the beach warn that people will drown in riptides when they swim into the raging waters.  They also instruct you that if you find yourself in the middle of the riptide swim horizontally with the shore.  Do this and you have a chance of surviving.  You see, it isn't the always the raging waters that cause us to drown, it is how we react to them. 
When we trust Christ, chaos loses its power to throw us off course. We have the anchor to keep us in place even when the storm rages around us. Even seasoned believers like Elijah and myself, lose grip of God's survival plan sometimes.  So don't lose hope when you find yourself running into panic mode, just recognize it and change your course. God is waiting for you right where you are, to rescue you and give you hope.

My prayer for today:
Lord, help me not fall victim to despair when the raging circumstances surround me. Keep my eyes focused on you in the middle of it all and give me strength to make wise decisions and experience peace.

Application steps
Read I Kings 5-8 to discover the importance of rest.

List the way God speaks to you.

Choose to be obedient to his leadings.  (I Kings 19: 13-18)

Find a loyal friend who will encourage you to follow God.  (I Kings 19: 19-21)
Reflection points:
Do I find myself running a fast pace that will lead to despair? 
Am I so busy trying to maintain existence that I neglect the path that brings peace?
Am I listening for God's still small voice?
Power verses
The LORD looks down from heaven upon the children of men, To see if there are any who understand, who seek God.  Psalm 14:2 (NKJV)

He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams.  He renews my strength. He guides me along right paths, bringing honor to his name.  Psalm 23:2-3 (NLT)
Test me, O LORD, and try me, examine my heart and my mind; for your love is ever before me, and I walk continually in your truth.  Psalm 26:2-3 (NIV)
God, your love is so precious! You protect people as a bird protects her young under her wings. Psalm 36:7 (ICB)

Additional resources:
Coming out of the Dark by Mary Southerland
Becoming a Woman Who Listens to God by Sharon Jaynes
Wise Words for Moms by Ginger Plowman

Originally published Wednesday, 11 August 2004.