I just got back from a week at the beach. It was fantastic; the kind of vacation in which I lost track of which day of the week it was. But now I’m back…and as I wade through the piles of tasks and messages screaming, “I’m urgent, deal with me!” I look back with gratitude on a great vacation and some of the big picture lessons the beach reminded me of:
Beware of the undercurrent – its stronger than you think. Florida’s Gulf Coast is calm, but there’s still an undertow so I had to watch my 1-year old like a hawk. He’d try to wriggle free from our grip because he thinks he’s a “big boy” and can stand without our help. After a couple of escapes only to be pulled over by the undertow, he decided that holding on to Mom or Dad was a good idea. I’m just like my son — I may feel I’m totally in control of my life and ministry but I could fall at any time. Temptation’s undercurrent lurks beneath the surface and can tug me in many directions: pride, lust, envy, comparison, and the list goes on. Getting pulled down by any of these undercurrents can wreck my ministry and cause untold damage to others. I need my heavenly Father’s grip to protect me from myself and the world I live in. Temptation lurks just beneath the surface — don’t be cocky and think you’ll never fall. The undercurrent is strong!
Keep your eyes on a fixed point. When you’re splashing around in the water it doesn’t take long to drift away from where all your stuff is on the beach. Keeping your bearings by watching others in the water around you won’t help because they’re drifting too. The only way to stay in the right place is to get your bearings from a fixed point on shore. It’s no different in life and ministry. If we’re not careful we focus on things that are moving us away from Christ. Maybe it’s worrying about the attendance in your ministry. Maybe it’s an obsession with finding the killer app or strategy for your ministry that will catapult you into ministry stardom. Maybe you’re accommodating the values of the world rather than the Bible in your life and ministry. The fact is that apart from Christ, we will drift away from all that’s right and true. We need to be spending time daily with Him in prayer and His Word. Don’t read the Bible just to find teaching material. Read it with a commitment to obey it even if it takes you against the tides of popular culture and requires you to make some hard choices. Keep your eyes on the fixed point offered the by the Word of God.
Beautiful sand has been crushed. I walked on some of the softest sand I’ve ever been on. It almost had the consistency of flour. No sharp shells to poke my feet. It was wonderful kicking my sandals off and feeling the soft sand around my feet. But as I watched and listened to the ebb and slow of the sea I was reminded that the sand had been pulverized by the waves. Just as fine sand emerges from being smashed about, we too can emerge better and stronger through life’s trials. Through incredible suffering Job was able to say, “when he has tested me, I will come forth as gold (Job 23:10b, NIV).” Trials and suffering are no fun to endure, but God can use them to make you and your ministry better than if was before. Will you trust Him when things don’t make sense? Will you embrace His refining work and trust Him for the results?
Now go enjoy your well-deserved vacation, and keep your eyes on Jesus!
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