February 12 – I’m Not Ok When You’re Not Ok

 

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One summer I was chosen to lead about 20 young men, ages 12-14, on a “Wilderness Expedition” with three other counselors. The trip was a blast. We hiked, we rock- climbed, we bathed in the river, we slept outside, we cooked our food over an open flame, I mean, what more could you ask for, right?

There was just one smudge of a problem on the otherwise perfect outdoor canvas. The “whiner-boy!” This fellow took issue with every single detail of the trip. The hike was too long, the river was too cold, the rock climbing hurt his hands, and the food was horrible. By the end of the first of the three day journey, every counselor and camper was ready to blindfold him and help him get lost in the forest!

But on the third day, everything changed. Our last and final “wild trial” was an underground tunnel appropriately nicknamed the “birth canal.”

This thing stretched for thirty yards and you had to pass through flat on your stomach and fully extended. You crawled with your fingers and toes! It was so dark, you had to keep talking and touching the person’s feet in front of you so you wouldn’t lose your bearings.

Needless to say, it was an intense three hours. But when the whiner boy started trying to wiggle out of going through, a couple of the tough boys got in his face in a very firm but brotherly way. They refused to go without him. Those boys put whiney-britches between them and praised and pushed him every step of the way.

Before it was all done, that kid cried and cussed, but they didn’t give up on him. The rest of us were so encouraged and humbled by the action of these two boys, we all forgot about our own struggle and began to encourage our buddy in the middle. And I will never forget the look on the young man’s face when we all emerged from the canal covered in dirt from head to toe.

Without saying a word, everybody knew he would forever be different. He had experienced something that each and every one of us so desperately need. He realized that he mattered. Not just to his mom or dad, but to a group of people he barely knew.

His success and his failure in that canal affected us all. That young man tasted the privilege of responsibility. True responsibility’s core is made of care and concern for others. And in the eyes of God, that’s what living is all about (“Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and love your neighbor as yourself.” Luke 10:26-28).

Don’t be easily frustrated by the whiners today. And don’t make excuses for them either. Just take a stand as you can, right by them. And walk a mile or two. You and God will be glad you did!

If someone falls into sin, forgivingly restore him, saving your critical comments for yourself. You might be needing forgiveness before the day’s out. Stoop down and reach out to those who are oppressed. Share their burdens, and so complete Christ’s law. If you think you are too good for that, you are badly deceived. Galatians 6:2 The Message

 Biblical Meditation: Matthew 5:40-42 And if someone wants to sue you and take your tunic, let him have your cloak as well. If someone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.

 

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October 20- The Rock That Is Higher Than I

Psalms 31:1-3 I run to you, God; I run for dear life. Don’t let me down! Take me seriously this time! Get down on my level and listen. And please-no procrastination! Your granite cave a hiding place, your high cliff a place of safety. You’re my cave to hide in, my cliff to climb. Be my safe leader, be my true mountain guide.  

Have you ever got some really bad news? I mean really bad. Do you remember how that hopeless feeling tried to swallow you whole? You start to feel all alone and isolated. Then you get mad because it’s just not fair! “What did I do to deserve this? Yes, I know I have not been perfect, but who has?” If you have ever been on that mountain before, you can relate to the above verse. This is a desperate cry for help. There is nowhere else to turn but up. If God doesn’t come through, it’s all over. This plea is familiar to God. It does not catch Him by surprise in the least. He’s a parent, for crying out loud! How many times have you heard a distress signal from your kids? What they might think is eminent doom, you see as a teachable moment.

I recall the time I was rock climbing with a group of boys in the mountains. We had about 20 boys with us and I was one of the counselors. Our guides were certified, but we were all pretty efficient in rock climbing safety. But for some reason, I foolishly decided to try climbing without a rope. (This is still shocking to think about!) I didn’t want to influence the kids to follow my lead, so I snuck around the side of the mountain about 30 yards. It was a 40 foot climb and everything was going great for the first 20 feet. All of a sudden, there were no more places to grab. The next big rock was flatter than a pancake. After about 15 minutes at a total stand still, I began to panic. I couldn’t hold on any longer, so I braced myself for the endless fall. It would soon be over.

Right then, a rope from above hit me on the nose and I heard a voice say, “Connect this to your harness.” It was one of the guides who heard a noise and thought he’d check it out. He saved my life. Yes, I made a very poor choice. My heart appealed to God as I prepared for the worst. And right before the darkest moment, light broke through! He saw me and He knew what to do. Right now, you may feel like you are hanging by a thread and you could let go at any moment. Your situation may not even be the result of a bad decision. But even though you can’t see Him with your physical eyes, God is right there. He knows just what you need. Trust Him and let Him be your safe place.

Lorenzo

Biblical Meditation: Psalms 91:1 He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall remain stable and fixed under the shadow of the Almighty [Whose power no foe can withstand].