Rocks Standing The Test of Time & Water


As a student of history I find the Second World War fascinating. Tragic, of course, but irresistible to study. I wish it, and all wars, were foreign concepts to us. However, I cannot ignore the reality of this conflict where man was at his best and worst during those times of monumental struggles. While studying the early stages of both the European and Pacific theaters of war, history tells us that the forces of evil overwhelmed their opponents. It took considerable time and effort for balance to be achieved and the proportion of defeats to become victories for the allies.

I pondered the sense and reality of being overwhelmed and what it must have felt like for both sides. What comes to mind when you consider this word, overwhelmed ? It is a very powerful word with many intense thoughts and feelings associated with it.

For the athlete, watching one team dominate another team; one boxer pummel another boxer; or one individual rule her opponent, can evoke a sense of helplessness for the defeated and energy for the winner. Whether the victor or the vanquished, the concept of being overwhelmed is very real for both parties.

For the over-worked, the seemingly endless days of pressure, deadlines and fatigue – the feeling that you will never catch-up – may simply wear you down. The thought of “Not again” and the reality of added responsibilities can lead to stress and disillusionment.

For mothers of young children, the daily routine and pressures associated with caring for her children, managing the household, balancing the budget, the endless trips to stores and events and appointments can certainly lead to exhaustion and feelings of futility.

For the over-extended; be it financial, time-related or with relationships, depression can result.

And for those who have endured years of chronic pain, without the hope for a cure, life can seem pretty pointless. Some suffer from the acute pain of losing a loved one with the hurting as real as any physical pain can be, and lasting just as long or longer. Then there are those who care for others who cannot care for themselves. These are special people, but the responsibility can become unbearable at times.

The sense of being overwhelmed is, well, overwhelming. This feeling may seem relentless – like powerful waves crashing on to a rocky shoreline, wearing away the stone, one resounding crash after another.

Our inherent “fight or flight” reaction to adverse (threatening) situations, especially over prolonged periods of time with little or no hope of relief, often results in our wanting to flee the situation. When trying to stand against the onslaught of a hurricane, escape often seems like the best choice. However, impulsive fleeing can lead to harmful behaviors and drastic consequences. As we struggle to understand what is happening to us, we become confused and lose objectivity.

The sense of being overwhelmed can cause physical, psychological, emotional and spiritual damage. Because of the feelings of confusion and hopelessness, we often attempt to medicate our symptoms. There are a variety of ways to do this; most of which harm not only ourselves, but those closest to us. What are we to do? How can we gain the upper hand and triumph over such adversity without turning to those things which ultimately end up hurting us?

My recommendation, based on personal experience, is to begin the journey towards safety, healing and wholeness by expressing our vulnerability to God. This step is difficult for most of us because it is an admission of weakness and reveals our inability to overcome adversity in our own strength. But this is exactly where God wants us. We must empty ourselves of pride and the false sense of self-sufficiency in order for Him to fill us with His power and His peace.

David, the shepherd boy-turned-king, expressed regularly his vulnerability and fears to the Lord through the Psalms. David, far from perfect, was highly favored by God because of his heart condition. Even after sinning, he returned to his God time and time again in an attitude of submission and humility. David learned to trust his Maker through repeated situations when his life was in jeopardy; as he confessed his inability to overcome his foe, he sought after God’s divine intervention. So must we.

In Psalm 61, David begins, “Hear my cry O God; attend unto my prayer. From the end of the earth will I cry unto thee, when my heart is overwhelmed.” He then asks God to “lead me to the Rock that is higher than I.” David goes on to say, “For thou hast been a shelter for me, and a strong tower from the enemy.” If you can’t relate to walled cities with fortified rock towers then consider a different image which serves the same purpose of protection and safety…an impenetrable place where the enemy can’t reach you.

Whatever your foe is at this present time, confess it, and your powerlessness to overcome it. Tell God the Father, who knows you and your circumstances intimately, that you need Him. Ask Him to help you, protect you, and to be near you. Call out to Him and ask Him to lead you to Christ the Lord. As you affirm Christ as the true Lord of your life, the sense of feeling overwhelmed will begin to dissipate. Sometimes the heaviness leaves immediately, and sometimes it takes awhile, but don’t give up.

Adjustments in lifestyle and circumstances will need to be made to reduce or eliminate the causes of your life feeling out of control, but one must be rescued before one can be free! As balance returns to your life, meditate on the words of David spoken in Psalm 62 when he said, “My soul finds rest in God alone; my salvation comes from Him. He alone is my Rock and my salvation; He is my fortress, I will never be shaken.”

May that become our proclamation and our reality.

“Our Prayers Are With You”

Christians praying in Goma, DR of Congo.

Christians praying in Goma, DR of Congo. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I have been the glad recipient of manifold prayers for my health over the course of years. And, most recently, an intensification of such intercession during the past month. To what degree these prayers have assisted me, I honestly cannot say with any certainty. However, by faith, I believe each one to be effective and fruitful.

 In our American culture, it is a common occurrence for a person or group of persons to state that they are (or will be) praying for another when an obvious need arises. We hear it in sports talk when analysts comment that they will pray for an athlete’s recovery after sustaining a serious injury or because of a personal tragedy. We hear the common place, “We’ll be praying for you”, when a friend, family member or acquaintance is in a serious trial of some sort. The words can seem trite, regardless of the sincerity behind them, because they are spoken so often.

 There may even be feelings of hypocrisy about such prayers when our judgment of the person(s) doing the promising is not real high on our moral list; perception of others can taint our objectivity. In essence, we may at times, feel that the out pouring of promises to be prayed for may be nice gestures, but nothing more. How many of the kind folk who actually offer their prayers, actually pray? To know the answer to that question would require a gathering of all such prayers as evidence. Obviously, that would be absurd. Prayers aren’t like mathematics wherein numbers can be quantified. Prayers come in all different shapes and sizes, metaphorically speaking. However, it is an interesting thought to actually ascertain if every person who promised to pray actually did!

 The question begs asking, “Does prayer work?” Scripture has abundant examples regarding the power of prayer. Over the years, including today, many an individual will argue to prayers’ effectiveness based on their personal results from it. Regardless of the spiritual diversity within our society, there still seems to be an underlying belief that a prayer spoken in someone’s behalf is effective-or has the possibility of being effective. To what degree of certainty or hope is probably as varied as the types of prayers spoken, as well as in the manner they are uttered.  James, one of the original twelve Apostles, wrote that we should pray for one another, and that the prayer of a righteous person has great power. Jesus even gave us several models, guides so-to-speak, to assist us in our efforts to pray correctly. So, purely from a Christian perspective, using the Bible as our source, prayer is of paramount importance and is valued because of its ability to produce powerful results.

 What if the one praying is not a Christian? How do we determine one’s righteousness? The answer to the latter question is, “We don’t!” God does. The first question is much more difficult to answer. In the context of Judeo-Christian belief, prayers are effective when spoken by those who have accepted the Lordship of Christ and seek to emulate Him. The Bible speaks about the prayers of the unsaved. When spoken out of harmony with the principals of the Old and New Testaments, said prayers are ineffective and often wrong (prayers to idols for example). However, I don’t believe I have ever read a clear scripture or interpretation concerning the sincere and earnest prayers of the non-Christian in behalf of others; much less the effectiveness of these prayers. My ignorance is showing which fuels all the more reason to continue to study and learn.

 So, what am I to think about the well meaning and sincere prayers (from all sources) that have been uttered for me concerning my chronic lower back pain, spinal fusion surgery, and continuing recovery? They are wonderful, that’s what! I believe them to be sincere and effective regardless of the person’s belief system. It is scriptural that God holds the prayers of saints to be of particular importance, but He does not dismiss the prayers of the unsaved as mere sport. Every human being has been created in the image of God-not a physical image, but a soul-saturated (spiritual?) image. Prayer is an integral part of mankind’s relationship with his Creator. Sure, many are messed-up in their theology when they pray to idols or persons or false gods, but when they pray with sincerity to a God (even if He is not their Christian God, per se) who exemplifies the concept of a supreme being, Jehovah God hears their prayers.

 I just watched (again) the riveting conclusion to the movie, Apollo 13, where the failed attempt to land on the moon almost ended in death for the three brave astronauts on board the space craft. The year was 1970, the technology was 1960s, the damage to the space craft and the ensuing problems where overwhelming. The odds for those three men to successfully return to earth, alive, were 1000 to one, if not worse. From parts of the craft blown away, oxygen depletion then CO2 buildup, equipment failures, illness, a variety of electrical and mechanical failures to computer malfunctions-basically you name it and it went wrong- these men and their flying machine made it back safely. The manually performed, strategic burn of thrusters to adjust the guide path of the space craft so it would not ricochet off the earth’s atmosphere or burn up was a miracle in itself. One of many. This movie was well put together because it seamlessly pieced actual film footage and actual reporting with the movie, especially near the end.

 It was reported during the most critical period for the returning astronauts, and replayed in the movie, that this was the first time in recorded history where peoples of all races, creeds and color-across the entire globe- prayed in unison-in this case,  for the safe return of these men and their space craft. There were Christians, and Buddhists, Hindus and Muslims, Native Americans and, perhaps, agnostics praying. The actual commentary and film footage was inspiring. Did prayer play a part, perhaps a major role, in the successful return of these men? They made it back against insurmountable odds. You decide. If you say, “Yes, prayer made a difference”, was it only because of Christian prayers? Is it possible that God heard the prayers of all His children, irrespective of religion, and acted graciously? You decide that, as well. To me, the abundance and depth of sincerity of the prayers poured out in behalf of the Apollo 13 crew was monumental in their safe and miraculous return. Man did his part, as God has equipped and expects him to do, but ultimately God heard and responded favorably.

 In my case, God has equipped man in the form of adequately trained and skilled doctors, amazing medicines, high-tech equipment, and state-of-the-art facilities-all which allowed me to have a successful operation and recovery thus far. Have the prayers for me made a difference? I believe so, and not merely because my operation was a success. I have at least six months of recovery to accurately determine the depth of my healing and reduction in back pain. To be rid of all pain and to walk again without serious side effects would be totally awesome. But, if I receive only a partial healing, this will be better than my condition prior to the surgery. The level of healing does not make the matter of prayer more or less important. The effectiveness of these prayers, made sacrificially by so many wonderful people, does not determine my faith level or God’s power.

 Intercessory prayer blesses the ones whom pray and the object of their prayers. For the person who prays, a part of their heart is cast upon the alter of a loving and holy God. These prayers are like gifts, and as we know, to give is often better than receiving and then we are blessed. Prayers which we can gauge success by healing or miraculous escape from something harmful are faith builders, to be sure. And, when a person receives healing of deliverance from some terrible disease, addiction, or circumstance, can become life-altering experiences. As for me, I believe God has heard and responded to each sincere prayer made in my behalf. How God chooses to answer these supplications for healing is totally up to Him. I am truly humbled and eternally thankful for each person and each prayer. The best way to put it is that I am blessed. In turn, I pray His choicest blessings upon those who have interceded for me. May all of us keep on praying, and let the blessings flow!