Monday, April 10, 2017

Unloading the Boat

I recently heard from a sermon Pastor Paul at church, and it’s really been circling my head since. You know how one point in a message can just ring bells in your head? This one has stuck with me. He used the metaphor of a boat to talk about how we handle crisis. Whether we as Christians like to admit it or not, there are times in our lives when things don’t go our way or downright disaster strikes. God doesn’t always intervene to prevent the storm, but He always helps us through it if we have faith and trust Him. The parable is this:

Professional sailors hall cargo. That is their reason in navigating the waters, but when a bad storm comes and their ship is heavy with cargo, they start throwing it overboard. Their cargo is important, but it isn’t worth their lives. They are prepared to do this. When they load their ship, they do so with the thought of unloading it in an emergency. They put the least valuable cargo on top so it can be unloaded first.

When we go through storms in our own lives we need to be prepared to make tough decisions about what we cut. The first thing that pops into my mind when I ponder this is finances, but this also applies to activities and the general clutter of our lives. Often, the things we value in the good times seem superfluous in a crisis. It comes down to needs and wants. If we identify these things now, it can save a lot of stress in an already stressful time.

Many people in today’s world live at the very edge of their means. Whether consciously or unconsciously, they ask themselves, “Can I squeeze one more monthly payment in?” or just don’t think about saving. “That’ll never happen to me.” The reality is that no matter who you are, some type of severe storm will strike. It’s just a matter of when. Are you financially prepared to cut? Do you have savings for a rainy day? Some might say this shows a lack of faith, but scripture would disagree.

Just to cite a couple: 
“The wise store up choice food and olive oil, but fools gulp theirs down.” – Proverbs 21:20.
“The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty.” – Proverbs 21:5.

Planning can be beneficial. We can be as full in the area of activities as any, and often, we as Christians dedicate a lot of time and service to our church, our life group, or causes. Our kids can be in many sports and activities and often social lives can take up lots of time. All these things are great, but this life can’t be sustained in crisis. We should also have a plan for what to unload.

It can be difficult to talk about this next one, but it is reality. When you are in a time of crisis, whether it be a natural disaster, a sickness, or something else like a job loss, you find out who your true friends are. I was young, but I remember when my mom had cancer. The amount of prayer and generosity was astounding, but the close friends that fell away were also.  I’ve seen this time and time again with close friends and family. There are people in everyone’s lives that will not stay through the fire. No matter who falls away though, He will always be there for you. He isn’t going away, ever. You may be surprised who He puts in your life during these times too. In every tough situation, true friends are there. 

“…but there is a true friend who sticks closer than a brother.” – Proverbs 18:24.y

Storms will come and blow and push at the foundations of all our lives. He will be there for us, and He will grow us through those times if our house is built on the Rock. The question is, are we prepared? 

I encourage you to think about what areas in your life—finances, activities, relationships—you will unload when storms come.


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