Pastoral Relief and Retreat

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Wethersfield, CT, United States
I am Pastor at Poquonock Community Church, Congregational (CCCC) in Windsor, CT. My wife Jama and I live in Wetherfield, CT. We'd like to invite you to Terre Haute -- High Ground -- That's what Jama and I call the retreat space on our property. We offer free intentional get-away retreats. We'll feed you and house you and give you space to be with the Lord. All are welcome; no questions asked. This blog is my daily devotional journal. I write it because it is so easy to go for weeks without ever taking the time to be alone with God. Writing helps me develop a discipline I need.


Thursday, October 14, 2010

Let Go of the Rope

Many years ago I was lying on a church floor with a group of teens on retreat.  There was a lot weighing on my heart that night, and this was the last place I would have liked to spend the night.  It was hot -- really hot -- and I was tired and uncomfortable.  It had been a long day at the end of a long week at the end of a long month.  My resources were at a low ebb.  Lying there I turned to the teenager lying nearest me on his sleeping bag and said, "Have you ever felt like you were at the end of your rope?"

Of course he hadn't!  I was in my mid-30s and had a family, house, mortgage, debt, and was running a non-profit that never seemed to be able to quite dig itself out of the red.   Because he had never been in my situation, I am confident the advice he gave must have come from the Lord.  He turned toward me and said, "Maybe God wants you to let go of the rope."

Well that's ridiculous!  If I let go of the rope, I would fall!

In Acts 27:27-44 Paul and a whole boat load of people are in a very precarious position.  The wind and storm have gone unabated, and they are perilously near to land... and rocks.  Anyone who even lives near the shore knows how many lives have been lost, even in modern times, in the combination of night, wind, rain, and rocks.  But Paul has prayed and the Lord has assured him that not one life will be lost.  

The crew of the ship has put down not one, but FOUR anchors.  They also have the lifeboat in the water and a few of them are about to "save themselves" (which probably would have resulted in their immediate deaths), taking their chances in a smaller craft in the surf.  What's the prescription for trusting God in this situation?  

Cut the ropes.  

And that's just what these people do.  Every fiber of their sea-weary hearts told these men that cutting the ropes would leave them entirely at the mercy of God and the waves.  And that's exactly what God wanted them to do.  So, instead of praying and fasting some more (which is how they were in a position to hear from God in the first place), Paul tells them to eat and commit their way to the God who knows the sea.  They cut the anchor ropes and then did the unthinkable: they cut the ropes holding the lifeboat and watched it ride away on a wave and be dashed upon the rocks.  Finally they threw the rest of the wheat -- the last food resource they had -- overboard.  It wasn't until they had absolutely no resource of their own that they were in a position to be rescued by God.  

Every day God expects us to jettison the wheat, cut the ropes, and lose the anchor.   How that works itself out is different in every situation, so I can't tell you what your wheat, ropes, and anchor are.   But God is a refuge and strength.  He is a very present help in time of trouble.  He is the God who delivers our life from the pit.  Read Psalm 18 and then ask yourself what are the ways in which you're hedging your bets.  What are the ropes you're hanging onto believing that it is really through your strength that the ship of your soul is not dashed upon the rocks.  Luke 9 tells us that "whoever would save his life iwll lose it."  So why are you tugging at that tiny rope when the God of the Universe has you safe in the palm of his hand?

  1. Jesus, Savior, pilot me,
    Over life’s tempestuous sea;
    Unknown waves before me roll,
    Hiding rock and treach’rous shoal;
    Chart and compass came from Thee:
    Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
  2. As a mother stills her child,
    Thou canst hush the ocean wild;
    Boist’rous waves obey Thy will
    When Thou say’st to them, “Be still!”
    Wondrous Sov’reign of the sea,
    Jesus, Savior, pilot me.
  3. When at last I near the shore,
    And the fearful breakers roar
    ’Twixt me and the peaceful rest,
    Then, while leaning on Thy breast,
    May I hear Thee say to me,
    “Fear not, I will pilot thee.”
  4. --Edward Hopper (1871)


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