Endurance swimmer Diana Nyad finally did it. On her 5th attempt she completed the 103 mile swim from Havana, Cuba to Key West, Florida. When she completed her 53 hour swim on Monday September 2, 2013, she became the first person to swim across the Straits of Florida without a shark cage. Yet the magnificent accomplishment was not easy for the 64 year old. Nyad had to face blowing winds and rough seas for the first 49 hours. She also had to endure nausea and vomiting from swallowing so much sea water. When she finally climbed ashore a beach in Key West she wanted people to remember to never ever give up. When she felt the difficulties and temptations to quit she kept telling herself to: “find a way”. Diana Nyad is truly an example in mental toughness and sheer determination. She did find a way to accomplish her goal.
The Apostle Paul was somewhat of an endurance swimmer also. He swam against all sorts of opposition in getting out the gospel of Christ. He was opposed by false teachers and even forsaken by friends. He was beaten with whips and rods. He was stoned and shipwrecked. He was hungry and thirsty. He endured sleeplessness and weariness. He faced vicious robbers and cold nights (2 Cor. 11:23-27). What kept him strong and gave him the courage to find a way in his endurance swim for Jesus Christ and His gospel? Perhaps the one factor that motivated Paul more than anything else is found in his second epistle to the Corinthians. 2 Cor. 5:14,15 tells us: “For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again”.
Paul was able to find a way through all of his difficulties because of the love of Christ. The single fact that Jesus loved him and gave His life to save Paul motivated him to live fully and completely for his Lord. I can’t think of a better motivation for living. The love of Christ will help us all find a way.
One of the most beneficial things that we can do for our bodies is to get involved in a regular routine of jogging or walking. I enjoy pushing away from my indoor activity to spend some time walking outside. On my walks I notice many other people who are likewise engaged. Have you noticed many of those who are walking or jogging alone have some type of music plugged into their ears? They must enjoy listening to their favorite tunes while exercising. But as for me; I walk unplugged. I’d rather listen to the earth music all around me.
Earth music can be heard in the rushing of the wind in the trees or the melodious singing of birds calling to their mates. Earth music can be as loud as a clap of thunder or as soft as the gentle slap of the waves on the shore. One can hear this kind of music from the mower in the neighbor’s yard or the laughter from children playing in the park.
Have you ever thought how much God loves to hear earth music? I believe the sweetest sound to our Father’s ears is simply the prayers from His earth-bound children. Jesus taught us to ask and seek and knock. He told us to pray just as if we are talking to our Heavenly Father. Heb. 4:16 challenges us: “Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need”. Other scriptures tell us to pray without ceasing and pray and not faint. Sincere heartfelt prayers are music to our Father’s ears. He loves to hear our praise, and our thanksgiving. He delights in the music of our petitions and even loves to hear sincere confession of sin that is directed to Him.
On your next walk, why not unplug and listen to some earth music. And while you are at it why not make some earth music of your own that is directed to your Heavenly Father’s ears?
Can you remember ever being afraid of the dark? As children and even as adults there is something about the darkness that sometimes causes us to imagine dangers that may be lurking where we cannot see them. When darkness obscures our vision the lamp becomes a monster and the coat rack becomes a stranger just waiting to do us harm. I remember tucking my own children in bed and them asking me to leave the night light on for them so they wouldn’t be afraid of the dark.
The disciples were rowing their way across the Sea of Galilee in the middle of the night. A storm came up hindering their progress. These experienced fisherman became terrified when they saw something coming toward them on the sea. They thought it was a ghost. From out of the darkness of that storm-tossed sea a voice called out to them saying, “…Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid” (Matt. 14:27). Their fears were relieved when they realized that it was Jesus who was coming toward them walking on the water. As soon as Jesus arrived and climbed aboard the boat the wind stopped blowing and the sea became calm. The disciples then gathered around Jesus and worshiped Him and acknowledged Him as the Son of God.
We all get afraid of the dark at times. It may be the darkness of uncertainty about our jobs, or the darkness of some sickness that is invading our body. It may be the darkness of a troubled marriage or the fear of the future without your loved one. I remember that Jesus sent his followers into the darkness without Him to face that storm. He wanted them to exhaust all their human resources before He stepped in. Finally in the fourth watch of the night Jesus came to them.
Our Lord sometimes allows the storms and darkness to come into our own lives also. But in the fourth watch of the night He will come to us and climb aboard. With Jesus in the boat, we do not have to be afraid of the dark.
Soaring effortlessly on the currents the seagulls seemed to dance on the wind. With barely a flap of their wings they used the breeze to turn, to dive, and even hover in the air. The strong winds instead of grounding these birds only buoyed them in their flight. Have you ever spent time watching seagulls navigate the air currents in this way?
As I watched the gulls by the harbor on that windy day I was reminded of some of the strong winds that often blow in a believer’s life. They can ground us and cause us to tuck in our feathers and hide somewhere. But I realized that God has equipped all of His children with wings: the wings of the Spirit. Jesus told us in John 14:26,27: “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid”. I noticed in that verse the close connection of the Spirit with the peace that Jesus promised to give us. When we are walking in the Spirit we can enjoy the peace Jesus spoke of. We have been given the person of the Holy Spirit who helps us handle the storms and to rise above the strong winds. The Holy Spirit enables us to use those trials to carry us to places the Father wants us to soar.
Have the harsh winds of physical trials or family turmoil blown you off course? Have you experienced a dizzying downdraft of an unexpected financial problem? Spread your wings. Trust the blessed Holy Spirit to help you rise high above the trials. Enjoy the uplifting draft of that peace that Jesus promised. Instead of flapping through on your own, soar on the wings of the Spirit.
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation