Prior to the COVID 19 pandemic and the ensuing second lock down, I was free to go to the YMCA on a daily basis in order to use the exercise machines. The one that I favoured was stationed over- looking 2 swimming pools. This got me thinking about water and how we take it for granted and can often over look the dangers found in water when we trust our own ability to engage it. Science tells us the adult human body is comprised of approximately 60% water. That's a lot! We need water to live. We need to consume it to keep our bodies hydrated. We need water to clean ourselves, to cook with, to grow food with. We use water for recreation, and exercise. So water is necessary to our lives in so many ways. But while it is necessary, it is also dangerous. We fill our pools with water to swim in and exercise in, all along knowing that if we were to introduce a very small amount of that water into our lungs, we could, with little warning and a whole lot of discomfort, bring about a very untimely and uncomfortable physical death. As I watched people swim up and down and exercise in this deadly mixture that makes up 60% of our bodies, I also took in the lifeguards who were constantly on watch for trouble. I can't speak to what each swimmer was thinking, but I think it's safe to say that they were trusting their ability to stay afloat, to swim far enough to get safely to the end of the lane. If they got into trouble they trusted the lifeguards to see them and to rescue them. However, even under the best of conditions things can go wrong when we trust ourselves and our own abilities, or the abilities of others to keep us safe.
According to the Olive Tree Bible app, there are 472 verses in God's word that have a reference to water. For example, as our physical presence here on earth is comprised of a physical birth involving water, so does our spiritual birth involve water. As John 3:5 says, "Jesus answered, Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God". When we come to faith in Christ we are commanded to be baptized with water, which illustrates our belief and understanding of the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ and His resurrection from the grave. We live in a world that is beautiful, wondrous, and yet dangerous at the same time. David says in Psalm 139: 14-15 "I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well". Yet remember, we have all sinned and fallen short of God's glory, as Romans 3:23 says "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God".
Every summer I hear of at least one drowning in one of the lakes or pools that people flock to for respite from the heat. Even COVID did not stop folks from heading to the beaches and lakes to cool off this past summer. It seems so often people put their faith and trust in their abilities, their skills and knowledge to navigate these waters without realizing the dangers that are ever present. I had a colleague once describe me as a "man of faith". But being a "man of faith" is not fully accurate - faith must be found to be "in" something. When you enter a room and spy your favourite chair, how often do you pause, put your finger to your lips in a position of deep contemplation, and wonder whether or not the chair that you desire to sink your body into actually has the ability to hold you when you sit in it? My guess is never. You simply have faith that the chair will hold you when you sit. You've sat in it before and it always held you so you assume this time wouldn’t be any different. Our faith in God and His promises must be the same. Lamentations 3: 22-23 says, " The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases; his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness". According to my colleague his faith was in his skills and abilities. How horribly misplaced that is.
So it occurred to me how odd it is to take something like going to the beach or swimming in a pool for granted, often ignoring the risk of harm. But isn't this exactly what the world does? Doesn't the world teach that surely similar tragedies won't happen to you? Doesn't the evil one tell us that we simply need to place our faith in ourselves and all will be well, that there is no need for forgiveness for our sins? Doesn't Satan tell us that all we need to do to be right with God is trust our good works and everything will be ok? There needs to be an awakening here, and a lesson understood! An understanding of faith and whom your faith must be in is truly needed! The biblical approach to life's tragedies and in whom your faith is to be placed, is correctly found in Psalms 112: 6-8 "For the righteous will never be moved; he will be remembered forever. He is not afraid of bad news; his heart is firm, trusting in the LORD. His heart is steady; he will not be afraid, until he looks in triumph on his adversaries." God made us, He made this world, He is sovereign over it and he says, "Trust Me."
John 17: 15-16 states "I do not ask that you take them out of the world, but that you keep them from the evil one. They are not of the world, just as I am not of the world". This world is a wonderful place but it is also a dying and broken place due to sin. We cannot trust our own abilities, skills or good works to atone for our sins that we are guilty of. We need a Saviour, a "Lifeguard", for if we are outside of Christ, we are actually drowning and don’t know it. The moment we begin to trust ourselves and not the God who made us and the world we live in, we will inevitably drown. We need to, we must, put our faith in the one who made us and made the world around us. We MUST put our faith in the One who knows how fragile we are, how very short sighted we are and how dead in our sins we are!
It tells us in Exodus that when the Lord was leading the Israelites out of Egypt He performed a miracle in front of their very eyes. The Egyptian Army who was attempting to re-capture them and to lead them back into lives of captivity was chasing them. There were confronted by a body of water that they could not cross on their own. The Lord took the body of water they were to cross and he divided it, giving them a dry path to walk across. To God's people the water was something that He used to demonstrate his power, promise, provision, care, love and protection. To the army of Egypt, water became something else; I'd suggest a tool to bring about God's judgement. God always provides, always answers prayer, however we must trust Him in how He provides and answers prayer. Our faith must, I repeat, must be in our Lord and what He says!
So let us be a people who walk wisely each and every day. Let us grasp the beauty of God's creation; rivers and majestic waterfalls, rain and snow, hot showers and hot baths and the still waters that He makes us lie down beside. Let us remember that God is also all-powerful and the maker of the oceans and roaring waterfalls that, if we are not careful, can end our days here in swift order. Let us remember that God hates our sin, and does not ignore it nor look away from it. He is a completely just Judge, and in order to satisfy His justice, provided the way of atonement and forgiveness by giving his only son to die on a horrible wooden cross, thus becoming the sacrifice for and bearer of our sins. Let us be a people that trusts in His word and promises, and that do not tremble at the thought of obstacles like sickness or death, pain, or poverty, or even sin. Let us be a people of faith, faith in God! Romans 8: 31, 37-39 reminds us: "What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord".
God is the ruler over all and is sovereign over this world and over us all. He is all powerful, majestic and mighty and our sin separates us from him. We will all stand before God at the end of our earthly years. Every knee will bow and confess that He is Lord. Yet, Jesus says come to me "Come to me, all who labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11: 28-30.)
C.S. Lewis, in his book the Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe, depicted Christ as a Lion by the name of Aslan. In the book, Mr Beaver (yes a talking beaver), is having a conversation with a young girl by the name of Susan who has wandered into the land of Narnia. Mr Beaver says, "Aslan is a lion- the Lion, the great Lion." "Ooh" said Susan. "I'd thought he was a man. Is he quite safe? I shall feel rather nervous about meeting a lion". "Safe?" said Mr Beaver, 'Who said anything about safe? 'Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you.” You see, although Jesus bids us come to him and he will have mercy on us, do not be lulled into thinking that you can put off coming to Christ willingly, and assume that when your life is over, all will be well. Like the signs on the beach that warn of a strong undertow, the Bible warns us to take our relationship with Christ very seriously. For if you don’t, the consequences will be dire, lasting into eternity. As Matthew 25:22 -23 warns us, 'On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.”
So let’s grab a glass of water, sit in our favourite chair (without stressing over whether it will hold us or not) and immerse ourselves in the fact that God, who is sovereign over all, who is our Ruler and our King, loves us with an absolute steadfast love, and that we are secure in the saving grace of Jesus Christ. Maybe you are reading this and saying, how do I know Jesus will forgive me of my sins, when I’ve done so much wrong in my life? Or you're thinking, I’m afraid to actually open up to Jesus. Become a person of faith, faith in Jesus Christ. He is the risen King, who hates your sin, but is also good, kind and faithful and does not want you to drown in your sin. 2Peter 3:9 encourages us: "The Lord is not slow to fulfil his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance". The Lord is willing and able to rescue you from the waters that, without Him and what he did on the cross for you, you are drowning in. He will lead you beside the quiet and still waters spoken of in Psalm 23. If you feel the need of help with this, there are many in our church, pastoral staff, elders, myself, who would gladly meet and pray with you. You need the safety of the maker of the waters, the one who will wash you clean and give you life eternal.