“When the Holy Spirit, who is truth, comes, he shall guide you into all truth, for he will not be presenting his own ideas, but will be passing on to you what he has heard. He will tell you about the future.”John 16.13 (TLB)
It was a cold dark October evening. The giant sea vessel plowed through the water carrying a commuter train and vehicles of all sizes sailing to Copenhagen from the German port of Hamburg. The young man stood topside next to the port rails looking to the stern. The ship was clear of the port, and the lights on the horizon disappeared. The isolation was palatable. The water in the Baltic Sea was black. He pulled his jacket collar closer and looked over the rails at the water passing underneath the vessel. As far as one could see, it was a dark and ominous expanse of black water and an overcast and black horizon above it. The only visible light on this dark sea was this ship sailing into blackness. He recognized, maybe for the first time, that the open sea was dangerous. Most certainly, the sobering reality of human frailty.
People often describe emotional experiences to life events in similar word pictures in counseling. When asked to relate their initial thoughts about these life experiences, they express helplessness, disappointment, despondency, darkness, a lonely place, and adrift. The usual reply when posed the question regarding their first thoughts and response to those events, “It’s always that way,” was the standard answer. They resolved that their past experiences repeated themselves, a sort of emotional déjà vu. Nothing seemed to change, and the cycle repeated. It was their perception of events, and their behavior followed similarly.
Consequently, the solution was to examine life events objectively and reframe those events with the truth. Indeed, as Christians, you would think finding the truth would be self-evident. It wasn’t. Especially for those who suffered horrible experiences and unspeakable acts perpetrated upon them. It was difficult for them, as it is for us in facing a crisis, as the Psalmist expresses in the twenty-third Psalm, to ponder – to consider – as our first thought:
“The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures.He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul. He leads me in paths of righteousness for his name’s sake. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. (Psalm 23.1-4 (ESV))
Therefore, as Paul encourages,
Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me—practice these things, and the God of peace will be with you. (Philippians 4.8-9)
What is your first thought when facing diversified negative and positive life events? What do you consider? Are you favorably disposed to God’s favor and aware of his grace? Do you seek the truth about God and his relationship with his children?
When surrounded by temptation or testing, are our first thoughts driven by emotions instead of considering these truths? Do we consider the totality of the circumstances and examine the pieces in light of the big picture? Are we like the wise Captain who piloted the ship through the rough Baltic Sea to its destination while adjusting to present immediate surroundings or are we like waves, blown and tossed by the wind? (Ephesians 4.14)
Jesus pilots us to port. Like the Psalmist, we can “rejoice in his promise like one who finds great spoil.” (Psalm 119:162). He is our True North. We must disregard the distractions, faulty thinking, and call of the world that attempt to move us off course. He knows the precise direction. We need to keep our focus on Him. (Hebrews 12.2) Despite the constant everchanging world and its chaos, He is our continuous unchanging source of truth and life. (Hebrews 13.8) His way is perfect; His word is flawless, and we are protected when we take refuge in Him. (Psalm 18.30)
Who or what is guiding you? Who or where do you go for help in a crisis? Be encouraged, and might I suggest— Look to and trust the True Pilot. For those who have lost their bearing, He is a welcomed blessing, and for those who are genuinely lost, Jesus is the greatest blessing.
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