“The beginning of wisdom is this: Get wisdom, and whatever you get, get insight.”
Proverbs 4: 7, ESV
We examined Proverbs 4: 7 during church the other day as part of a sermon on how to handle the inevitable storms every believer will face in life. A Bible passage that confirms this inevitability is John 15: 1-2:
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes that it may bear more fruit.” (ESV)
The premise is that as one journeys in the Lord one is guaranteed to to make mistakes and walk the wrong way so to speak. Evil influences creep into one’s life and rot forms where there was once lively and strong growth. Any gardener will tell you that rotten bits on any vine or other type of plant must be removed since the infected branch will neither heal nor bear fruit. Furthermore, the rot is likely to spread and ruin other parts of the vine therefore it must be hacked off from the parent plant and taken away.
Sometimes this passage is interpreted to say that Christians themselves will be removed from the fold if they are “unrepentant sinners” or some such thing. I don’t think this is the case. I think that its meaning is closer to what I have said. Those parts of one’s life that are rotten and infected and likely to keep one from God’s purposes are, at times, removed from our lives. I don’t believe that one may lose ones salvation. The real question is whether one is ever saved in the first place which is why I say that Belief Matters, so preaching and teaching the true Christ and His Gospel is of such importance. My fear is that unless the Truth is proclaimed, people place their faith in someone other than Christ Jesus and His Gospel of true life, otherwise known as salvation. But that is a proposition of another discussion.
Storms occur in their seasons. They are as necessary in life as they are in nature. Though they can be destructive in the short term they are necessary for new growth. As an example, I have a few trees that I am raising in little pots in order to someday turn into bonzais. I have noticed that as I remove one branch, it causes multiple new branches to grow in other parts of the tree. The same thing happens in nature. Tree branches may be broken by strong winds or by heavy deposits of ice but this causes new growth that would not occur other wise. Often it is branches that are weakened by rot or previous diasters that are broken off by these naturalacts of God.
Or one can imagine a wolf pack in the far reaches of the north. A healthy baby caribou is able to out run a wolf just minutes after it is born. It is literally only those caribou that are infirmed by age or illness that the pack is able to cull from the herd. Wolf packs, like other storms are necessary for the health of the whole.
Faith involves trust. Trust, as a matter of fact is a crucial aspect of faith. In fact, the exact same word that is often translated from the Greek as “faith” is often translated in other places as “trust” and in still other places we read it as “hope.” When one places one’s faith in the Son of God, one is trusting Him with all of one’s hopes. Ultimately, the Believer will not be disappointed.
Storms come. That’s really the only guarantee that Jesus gives us. The world hates Him, why should believers expect anything less than trouble in this life? Of course, we cause some of our personal “storms” by the mistakes we make, but others just happen because of the world in which we live. In any case, we must get right and/or stay right with our Lord and trust that He remains with us no matter what. His love is continual and unconditional. That’s a fact that is drilled into the mind of the faithful reader of Scripture.
Speaking of storms ( and I will leave you with this), one of my favorite storm stories in the New Testament is the story of Jesus and the disciples sailing across the Sea of Galilee and half way across, a magnificent storm breaks out. I’ve been in boats when storms rolled in. It can be pretty frightening. But there’s nothing to it but to paddle, row, crank up the engine and hope one doesn’t sink of get hit by lightening before one makes it to shore. It’s easy to panic, but that doesn’t help matters.
Back to the story… the sailing/fishing boat that contained Jesus and the disciples is half way across the sea when it’s caught in a raging storm and everyone on board is panicking. Okay, not everyone is panicking. Jesus is in the stern fast asleep. His disciples do what we do, right? They run to Jesus and wake Him up and demand that He do something about the storm. Makes sense. Jesus wakes up in a grumpy mood and chastises His people with words to the effect of, “Do you really think that your boat is going to sink as long as I am in it?” But He answer their desires and amazes them all by calming the storm. I read that and I think, “That was stupid.”
I don’t mean that Jesus was stupid. The disciples were stupid. Maybe not stupid but I don’t think that they thought things through entirely. Think about it. Since they woke Jesus up and demanded that He calm the storm ( He went back to sleep after doing so), they were left in the middle of the sea in the middle of the night without the slightest breeze to sail their boat. They had to row the rest of the night to reach landfall by morning.
The point is that storms are scary and dreadful and just plain not fun at all but they move us relatively quickly to where God wants us to be. Without the raging storm, we have a lot of work to do and in the darkness of the world, it can be difficult to even see the direction that we are going. We need to get close and stay close to Jesus. If He’s sleeping in the stern of our lives, we can rest assured that we will be safe in the end. The trick is to make sure He’s in our boat.
The Church is like the ark (Noah’s), if it wasn’t for the storm outside, one couldn’t stand the stench inside.” Martin Luther. I just wanted to throw that in.
Keep the Faith and God Bless.