Four years ago the United States was challenged with how to recover from the terrorist's attack of September 11, 2001. And again, two weeks ago we were, and continue to be challenged with recovering from a horrible natural disaster, as hurricane Katrina came
blowing through the Gulf Coast, leaving in its wake widespread catastrophe.
Closer to home, over the past several years, some here in our church family have experienced the death of a loved one, accidents and illnesses that have left family and friends in difficult situations, people have lost jobs, and still others have encountered
As we have experienced these events, first-hand or through the lens of a camera, it becomes extremely clear that we cannot fully recover from disasters and the adversities of life on our own.
And this has never been more clear than over the past couple of weeks as we continue to hear a handful of politicians spending their time and energy pointing fingers at one another about whose fault the hurricane recovery response was, and still others point
to race as the reason we can expect a large death toll.
Let me be very clear, Katrina was not a democrat or republican, and the hurricane was not white, black, or Hispanic. It's time we stop turning on one another, roll up our sleeves, and get to work to help our fellow man. When one part of the body hurts, we
all hurt, and its times like these that we need to support one another and lean on God for support. In times of adversity our greatest resource is each other, and the power of God.
Also, as I hear and re-live stories of 9/11 and continue to hear and read about the hurricane, folks are constantly lifting up the strength and resilience of the human spirit. But as determined and strong as the human spirit is, it pales in comparison to the
One who gave us our spirit in the first place, and the One who is the ultimate power source.
God in Christ, through the power of the Holy Spirit is "our refuge and strength, and an ever-present help when we are experiencing trouble." The psalmist tells us, "Therefore do not fear, though the earth give way and the mountains fall into the heart of the
sea, though the waters roar and foam, and the mountains quake with their surging. There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy place where the Most High dwells."
In other words when it seems all hell is breaking loose there is a place we can dwell safe and secure, and that place is the city of God.
So knowing this truth, why do so many still choose: " Distress over comfort? " Heartache over peace? " And despair over victory?
We do live in a world where war and destruction are inevitable, but you know what, so is God's final victory.
So in the midst of terrorist attacks, natural disasters, family problems, personal issues, distress, heartache, and despair, we can take comfort and live secure in knowing that we can turn to the source of divine power, the source of eternal refuge and
For just a moment let's consider this cordless screwdriver. To charge it, it has to be plugged into a reliable power source. Once it's charged you can take the screwdriver anywhere you want to use it. Now as we use this screwdriver we begin to drain power
from its battery cell. And the more stress we place on it to tighten or un-tighten a screw the more power it drains.
So as you can see, unplugged from the power source, the screwdriver will work for a little while, until the battery is drained and it no longer has power. And even if we didn't use the screwdriver it still loses power over time, as long as it remains
disconnected from the power source.
On the other hand, if we keep the screwdriver plugged in it will remain at full power indefinitely.
We are very much like this screwdriver. You'll remember after 9/11 most churches reported they were filled. People were seeking refuge, comfort and peace; from the only place they knew where to turn, God Almighty. People went to church and were reconnected
to the power source.
But what happened? Within weeks the churches were back to their normal attendance levels. Those who came to reconnect to the power source left again to run on their own battery power.
These same folks will likely return to church again after experiencing a battery draining event, a life tragedy that human spirit and human power alone can't handle. But why? Why live a life that has such drastic ups and downs?
Why do folks insist on living a life of continuous drain, returning to church and God from time-to-time for an occasional recharging, like at Christmas and Easter or after a disaster? Why return for an occasional charge when we can live a life always
connected to the power source?
Why do we insist on going it alone when God is saying, "Look, I'm here to help, stay connected to me and I will give you refuge and strength."
Now I'm not suggesting at all that by staying connected to God that we won't experience ups and downs, because we will. What I'm saying is that by staying connected to God and by relying on God, our ups and downs will not be manifest as extreme highs and
lows, which frankly can wear on you over time. By staying connected to God on a continual basis we will experience a more leveling of life experiences, and will be better equipped to deal with hardship.
The typical view of the Christian life is that it means being delivered from all adversity. But being a Christian actually means being delivered in adversity, which is something very different, and not something we can do on our own. The reason so many flock
to churches in times of man-caused chaos and natural disasters is because folks realize they can't be delivered in adversity on their own.
If we are children of God we will certainly encounter adversities, and God says we shouldn't be surprised when they come. But God is also saying we need not fear.
God does not give us an overcoming life; he gives us life as we overcome. And as we stay connected to the power source the strain of life is what builds our strength.
The principle for building spiritual muscle is the same as building physical muscle. If there is no strain, there will be no spiritual muscle and strength. So when we ask God to give us a good life, freedom, and joy, understand he won't, unless we are
willing to accept the strain. And once we face the strain, we will immediately get spiritual muscle and strength.
If we overcome our shyness to ask for strength, and overcome our need to be in control and take the first step, then God will give us the strength to live as we as we are delivered in adversity.
And we see this played out in our own lives as we experience difficulty, and finally return to the power source. We see it as a nation when we finally realize we can't do it on our own, and return to the power source.
When we completely give of ourselves physically we become exhausted. But when we give of ourselves spiritually and reconnect, we get more strength.
Also know that God doesn't gives us strength for tomorrow, or for the next hour, but only for the strain of the moment, this is why a life disconnected from our power source is an unfulfilled life. This is why we need to stay plugged in to God continuously.
Our temptation is to face adversities from the standpoint of our own power or our own commonsense. But a saint can be at peace and joy-filled even when seemingly defeated by adversities, because of the victory of God in Jesus Christ.
So what, this all sounds great but how do we stay connected, how do we remain spiritually charged? The psalmist says in verse 10 and 11 of Psalm 46, "Be still, and know that I am God…The Lord Almighty is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress."
We need to be still and acknowledge that God is the Almighty, and is the source of our refuge and strength. Now for most of us it's easy to faithfully acknowledge that God is the Almighty and the source of our refuge and strength. But where many of us fail,
is in being still.
Back when I was in the ordained ministry candidacy process and was reporting to the District Committee on Ordained Ministry I was asked many questions over a four year period. Quit honestly I don't remember most of the questions I was asked, but I do
remember one that has stuck in my mind ever sense.
As most of you know I have somewhat of a "Type A" personality and like to always be doing something. Well, a couple of years ago I was asked by one of the committee members if I ever took time to just be still. I thought for a moment but had to honestly
answer no. Even if I was sitting down and thought I was being still, my mind was thinking of what I had to do next or what I wanted to do next. This was really an eye-opener for me, and I wasn't sure if I could ever really be still.
Well over time I've learned to be still, to simply sit and just observe God's creation around me, the wonderment of life, and the awesome power of God. I now try to be still every day for at least 15 minutes to a half-hour.
I've found that it's during this quiet and still time that I am connected to the power source in a very profound way. I can literally feel my spirits being lifted as I experience the presence of the Holy Spirit upon and within me.
Now you can be still and quiet anywhere. I've taken the time to be still on my deck, outside the church here on the bench in our memory garden, the Grotto, here in the sanctuary during the day when no one else is around. The location isn't important, being
still and feeling God's presence is.
I guarantee, if you take a few minutes to be still and silent before the Lord, the pressures in your lives will begin to dissipate. God will lift the relief valve on the pressure cooker of the day, and your anxieties will be relieved.
Now when you first begin to be still, it's not uncommon for your mind to wonder, your frustration levels to be high, and you might be anxious, but as you focus on God, you will begin to feel the reservoir of tension being emptied.
When we are still something begins to happen to our soul, our emotional beings, and even to our physical bodies. You can be tired, weary, and emotionally drained, but after spending time alone and still before God, you will find that he infuses into your
body energy, power, and strength.
Try being still this week and e-mail me, call me, or tell me next week how you did.
Make the connection to the power source, stay plugged in, and experience God as your refuge and strength.
Read other messages by Pastor Wade