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Thursday, 25 January 2018

A faltering faith.

Having succumbed to a bout of influenza, my time online has been severely curbed for almost a fortnight! I am still not "out of the woods", but want to publish a post or two before the month ends.

Earlier, in the post titled "Hype, or Hope?", I referred to a dear friend who has recently been diagnosed with what is, currently, inoperable cancer in both liver and a lung. I shared her admirable attitude that she is in a win-win situation. If the Lord spares her, she has more time with her husband and family. If He takes her home, she is with Jesus more quickly.

Just a couple of days ago, I was sent a video of the well-known Christian evangelist, Luis Palau.  He, too, has just been diagnosed with an advanced cancer - and his attitude is exactly the same! That, of course, is the way in which any true disciple of Jesus will face "the last enemy", knowing that the Saviour has already conquered it. (http://www.palau.org/luishealth for those who are interested.)

I've been reminded of a similar situation that I read about, many years ago. It's a true story told to illustrate a well-known Biblical record. In Matthew 14:22ff we read about the disciples, on their way across the Lake of Genneseret, in the face of rough waves and a strong wind. Then, "... in the fourth watch of the night [Jesus] came to them, walking on the sea." (v.24). They initially thought that they were seeing some kind of phantom but, when He assured them that it was He, Himself, impetuous Peter cried out: "Lord, if it is You, bid me come to you on the water.” (v.28). The invitation was extended and, we read: "... Peter got out of the boat and walked on the water and came to Jesus;" (v.29). However, "... when he saw the wind, he was afraid, and beginning to sink he cried out, “Lord, save me.” Jesus immediately reached out His hand and caught him, saying to him, “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”" (vs.30-31).

Many centuries later, a passenger boat was on a journey to Cleveland, Ohio, in the USA, when a terrible storm arose. Fearing that the ship would sink, all of the passengers, except one, gathered to pray (yes, there was a time when such a reaction would not have been remarkable!). That one elderly lady seemed to be totally unconcerned as she sat and quietly praised the Lord. When the danger had passed, some of her fellow-passengers asked her how she had been so peaceful in the face of her potential demise. "Well," she explained, "I gave birth to two daughters. One has gone to be with the Lord; the other lives in Cleveland. When our lives were threatened, I just wondered which I would meet first - the one in Cleveland, or the one in heaven. I would have rejoiced to see either!" Her unfaltering faith rested, with childlike simplicity, in the wisdom and purposes of her heavenly Father.

We may admire the response of Peter when the Lord Jesus invited him to walk on water. Soon, however, his original confidence gave way to fear, and he faltered in the crisis. Is it not true to say that most of us are like that?! Trusting Father God at first, our faith then begins to flicker when difficulties, and adversities, come.

May we be like that woman of an earlier generation; like my friend back on the UK; like evangelist Luis Palau; and have a faith that is firm - to the end! Remember, it's when we cease to look up that we begin to go down!

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