Sunday, September 13, 2009

God Never Breaks His Promise

The story goes that during a bad thunderstorm a young man cried out to the Lord, “Lord save me from this storm!” Later that same evening the storm was so bad that the river banks overflowed and his front yard started to flood. Having faith in God, he believed that God would save him so he closed the door and stood in front of his icons and prayed, “Lord save me from this storm!” As the floodwaters increased, the police knocked on his door and told him to evacuate because the neighborhood was flooding. “God will save me,” he said and he closed the door and returned to his icons to pray, “Lord save me from this storm.” As the water level rose, eventually it broke through the door and windows and began to fill his house with water. He took his icons upstairs and continued to pray, “Lord save me from this storm,” and the water continued to rise until he found himself looking out his second floor window and saw a boat float by with a rescue team. They called to him, “Get in the boat, the neighborhood is flooding!” He refused saying, “God will save me,” and he continued to pray, “Lord save me from this storm,” but the waters continued to rise. He found himself sitting on the roof with his icons when a helicopter rescue team flew overhead and called out to him to get into the basket and they would carry him to safety. “God will save me!” he insisted. Five minutes later the young man drowned to death sitting on his roof. When he saw Jesus he asked, “Why didn’t you save me?” and God said, “Save you? First I came as a police officer and you didn’t follow me; so I came in a boat and you didn’t follow me; so I finally came with my helicopter and STILL you didn’t follow me…what else did you want me to do?”

There are many times in life when we are struggling so hard we simply don’t recognize the help that God is sending our way. I don’t know if you have heard this story before, but I believe it’s a pretty clear example of our real struggle in our daily lives. The reality is that humanity is in quite a mess right now and has been for thousands of years ever since Adam and Eve disobeyed God. The Good News is that God has a plan to rescue us from the floodwaters that surround us. “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” (John 3.16-17) In other words, like in our little story, God plans to send us the police officer, the boat AND the helicopter and He will never stop trying to save us. He just needs us to follow Him to safety.

In the Old Testament we read a story about the Jews wandering in the wilderness giving up hope that God was going to save them. “Then they departed from Mount Hor by the way of the Red Sea; and they went around the land of Edom, and the people became discouraged on the way. So the people spoke against God and against Moses, ‘Why did you bring us up out of Egypt to kill us in the desert? For there is no bread nor water, and our soul is weary of this worthless bread.’ So the Lord sent venomous serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and many of the children of Israel died. Then the people came to Moses, and were saying, ‘We sinned, for we spoke against the Lord and against you; therefore, pray to the Lord, and let Him take away the serpent from us.’ So Moses prayed for the people. Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Make a serpent for yourself and put it on a signal pole; and it shall be, if a serpent should bite someone, when the one who is bitten looks at it, he shall live.’ So Moses made a copper serpent and put it on a signal pole; and it happened, when a serpent bit anyone, and he looked at the copper serpent, he lived.” (Numbers 21.4-9)

With what we know about science today, and they probably did then too, there is absolutely nothing about a copper snake hanging on a pole that can heal anyone from the deadly venom of a snake. The power of the snake was God’s promise that it would save them. And God never goes back on His promise. The power of the copper snake was the belief that God would heal them. And He did just as He promised.

And He promises to take care of us too in our time of need. All we need to do is believe in Him who was hanging on a cross. “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3.14-15) Have we been bitten by the serpents of life? Have we lost hope that nothing we do can fix a certain problem that has been plaguing us in our relationship with our spouse? Look. Look upon the Cross of Christ and believe that He has the power to save us. And He will.

In the Divine Liturgy we pray to God, “You brought us into being out of nothing, and when we fell, You raised us up again. You did not cease doing everything until You led us to heaven and granted us Your kingdom to come. For all these things we thank You and Your only begotten Son and Your Holy Spirit; for all things that we know and do not know, for blessings seen and unseen that have been bestowed upon us.”

So my dear brothers and sisters if you are struggling and the floodwaters are rising, come to Christ and His Church and pray, “Lord save me!” And when he sends help know that it is not just a coincidence that your problem was solved but that God did in fact send help. Are you struggling to pay your bills? Have faith in God that He will take care of you and when you find money is a pocket or purse or get a credit refund on your next bill, remember it’s not a coincidence it’s God.

God has come to rescue us from death and destruction. We live in a world full of struggle and sin and sometimes the floodwaters of life are crashing against our walls. Let us enter His House and pray, “Lord save us from this storm,” and He will. Let us look upon the Lord hanging upon the Cross and know that He has promised that if we believe in Him, we will live forever. And God never breaks His promise.

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