A Perfect Storm (Revised)

Supported by arm crutches necessitated by a noticeably impaired left leg, the old visiting preacher slowly made his way up the center aisle and into the pulpit of the little country church. He had just been introduced by the churches’ pastor as a man through whom God had been using to bless a lot of His hurting children throughout the years. The man always used the Bible as a means of addressing the major issues these folks were wrestling with. God added His blessing to the man’s labor of love and what had once been a lifetime habit of worrying, slowly but surely, gave way to one of trusting God regardless of circumstances. Feelings of anxiety, and desperation were often replaced with those of soothing peace and hope for many of the folks God had ordained to cross paths with the old preacher.


The top of the solid oak pulpit replaced his crutches for much needed support. You couldn’t help but wonder why the old man hadn’t retired fifteen years earlier when he turned sixty five. After all, there were many men younger than him who were enjoying themselves with a well deserved life of leisure. Why wasn’t he? And why was he preaching today in the middle of his vacation instead of relaxing and taking it easy? Perhaps his message would provide a clue.

The preacher began by praising Jesus for loving a person such as himself and demonstrating His love by dying an agonizing death on a Cross as punishment for his sins. The old man obviously was genuinely amazed that God would love someone as undeserving and unlovable as himself. Until that memorable morning, no one in the congregation had ever heard anyone express such a sincere heart-felt gratitude for God’s truly amazing love for them.


“This morning,” the man began, “I would like to share with you folks the true account of an event that took place many years ago; an account involving three people on a little fishing boat who were caught up in a raging storm, and the profound effect God had planned and destined it to have on the lives of a handful of His people. Allow me to explain. The sudden unpredicted squall seemed to materialize out of nowhere. Lightning danced in the darkened afternoon sky accompanied by round after round of deafening thunder. The little boat was repeatedly pounded by waves as it sailed through the inlet on its way to the relatively calm waters of the bay. Wave after wave exploded against its bow sending torrents of salt water spray cascading over the boat and its crew which consisted of a father and his son and the son’s friend. Dwarfing the boat on either side of the inlet loomed huge sinister looking rocks, which on that unforgettable day seemed as though they were giant magnets placed there by a diabolical fiend to draw hapless mariners to certain destruction. ‘Devil’s Inlet’ could not have been more appropriately named.


Meanwhile, perched high above the giant rocks on the left side of the treacherous inlet was a parking lot with one lone car. Inside were three anxious onlookers peering intently through the car’s windshield between rapid swipes of the wiper. One of them was the wife of the man and mother of their only child. Her husband was an experienced helmsman and knew these waters like the back of his hand. He had sailed through ‘Devil’s Inlet’ hundreds of times but never in such treacherous seas. Although he hated being in this predicament, the man took comfort in knowing that it was not a freak storm that he had the bad luck of finding himself in. He knew there was no such thing as luck and the squall was part of the perfect plan of the Sovereign God who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of His will; the One in whom the man lived and moved and had his very being; the God who was infinite in wisdom and perfect in love; the One who taught the man that His ways were not the same as the man’s ways, but were infinitely higher than his ways and were past finding out. Experience had taught the man that any moment the boat could capsize and sink, or be propelled like a missile into those menacing rocks and be totally demolished. And so, the frightened man prayed fervently to God knowing that it is God alone who has the power to still the roaring of the seas and the roaring of their waves, while he struggled at the helm trying desperately to maintain the boats course.


The two terrified sixteen-year old boys had all they could do to keep from being washed overboard and into the furious sea. They clung to the boat’s mast for dear life. At that moment the father’s son would give anything to be at their favorite pizza joint scoffing down a couple of slices that had just been served by a smiling pretty young woman named Morgan. She was one of the real cool crew Sean the owner had hired to keep the customer’s pleased. The boy enjoyed watching some of the crew banter with an old grey haired guy who let everyone know how much he hated bubbles on his pizza. Morgan and those pleasant memories quickly faded as the boys thoughts were forced to return to the reality of their plight. He had a strong child-like faith, and, like his father, had been very concerned about where his friend would spend eternity when he died. He knew it was only through his friend’s acceptance of Christ pinch hitting for him on His cross, which was the only means which could satisfy God’s justice and enable his friend to enter into heaven when he died. In other words, the boy knew all anyone had to do was simply accept God’s love for them through everything Jesus accomplished. That’s the only way anyone can possibly escape experiencing God’s righteous wrath.


Most times the boy’s faith enabled him to trust God regardless of circumstances, but that squall which was relentlessly battering their boat was testing it to the max. Obviously he didn’t have a clue why God was allowing him to have such a harrowing experience, and he struggled to believe the Bible’s assurance that God would somehow work it all out for his ultimate good. But, he took comfort in knowing that nothing would ever be able to separate him from the love God had for him in His only begotten Son, Christ Jesus.


His friend however, saw things differently. Of course he believed in God. He wasn’t one of those atheist nut-cases. He always prayed to god when things got rough in his life, like the time he got busted for doing pot and when he was nabbed swiping a handful of CD’s from Best Buy. But at the moment it was very apparent the boy didn’t really know the Creator God at all. The one he had been praying to certainly wasn’t measuring up to his idea of an all-powerful, all-wise and all-loving ‘Supreme Being.’ It wasn’t a surprise when between cracks of thunder, the father and son heard the terrified boy screaming obscenities at a god who was like the god of most people; nothing more than a figment of his own imagination.


High up behind the rocks in the safety of the parking lot, the mother and other onlookers were becoming increasingly anxious. A year before her only child was born; a merciful God had given her the gift of faith. But, as is all too common with many of us, she didn’t spend a lot of time adding biblical knowledge to her faith, knowledge which would have helped her greatly, especially since she had been born with a somewhat worrisome temperament. Sometimes she thought it was impossible for her to trust God in some circumstance such as the one she was presently experiencing.


It wasn’t as though she had no faith at all like her sons friend because nothing could be further from the truth. She prayed daily and was quick to thank Him for His many blessings. Not a day went by that she didn’t ask Him for protection and provision for herself and her loved ones. However, often her prayers were, sad to say, like those of all of us at times, one-way conversations with her doing all of the talking and not giving God a chance to speak to her. For instance, there were times when she pleaded with Him for wisdom and knowledge of His will for her, but she neglected to consult the Bible which was the means God had ordained to give her this information. This good woman, a wonderful wife and mother,  was so caught up in the cares of the world that for most of her Christian life she had been turning a deaf ear to Him, and in so doing, robbed herself of the tremendous comfort, encouragement and hope found only in the Bible. The devil had conned her into unknowingly robbing herself of learning what the Creator of the universe wanted to say to her.”  Instead, she seemed to content herself with relying on her feelings, hunches, and common sense which were sometimes flavored with a dash of pop psychology.


After years of depriving herself of the spiritual nutrition found only in the Bible the woman became spiritually anemic. She certainly wasn’t surprised that the storm seemed almost calm compared to the one which was raging within her stomach, as she helplessly watched the drama rapidly unfolding below. Suddenly the horrified on-lookers realized they were the only ones who saw it coming. In unison, they frantically screamed a warning that none of the boats crew could possibly hear. At the exact moment her sons friend let one hand go of the mast to wipe salt water out of his burning eyes, a huge rogue wave came crashing over the little boat and washed him overboard. The woman’s son quickly kicked off his shoes and jumped into the turbulent sea in an attempt to rescue his friend. Both boys were now in the wake of the boat, coughing and spitting out salt water. They didn’t have the strength to swim against the huge waves and were being rapidly drawn towards the treacherous rocks like pieces of driftwood.


The father quickly assessed the situation.  Years of experience had taught him the boat was certain to capsize if he attempted to bring it about. He had no other option, he must maintain course. Then he noticed a long line with a grappling hook fastened to its end. The line was all curled up on the deck and secured to a cleat. With the help of God, he would toss it and snag one the lifejacket of one of the boys and tow him to safety in the calm waters of the bay. With one hand on the helm and the other swinging the line and hook, the father was ready to toss it at one of them, but which one? He knew he could only toss it once. The best he could hope for was that one boy would be rescued but the other would surely die. But which one, he thought? For a split second he looked into the loving, ever-trusting eyes of his only son, eyes which seemed to be pleading, “Don’t forget my friend!” The father had a couple of seconds to decide which boy would live and which would become the latest victim to have his life snuffed out in ‘Devils Inlet.”


Each of the onlookers clearly understood the father’s dilemma as they anxiously waited to learn his decision. Momentarily putting themselves in his shoes, they wondered what they would do if they were him. The mother also quickly considered her husband’s options. She knew he would never turn his back on his own son. Their boy had a long life ahead of him and could be used by God to become a blessing to an awful lot of people. Over the years she sometimes marveled at her son’s faith. He didn’t always succeed but he seemed to struggle real hard to give God the best he had, including sincerely trying to obey the First Great Commandment of loving Him with all of his mind, and heart, and soul, and strength. It sure wasn’t easy, but her boy seemed to go out of his way to love all his neighbors just as he loved himself, even those who at times weren’t very lovable. It was very unusual to see someone so young having such patience or being so kind, as well as slow to get angry and quick to forgive. God had blessed her big time through her boy and she knew it. On the other hand she viewed her son’s friend as a somewhat useless, self-centered, bitter boy. And everyone knew the world would be a lot better off without such kids who only got worse as they grew older and became such a drain on society.


The old preacher paused for a moment to take a sip of water. Then, while everyone was listening intently he continued the narrative and said: “Once again, the father, with tear filled eyes looked into those of his only son and shouted, “I love you son,” and then tossed the line and hook and snagged the friend’s lifejacket. With a final glance into his son’s eyes, a broken hearted father heard his boys loud cry, “dad, dad, why have you forsaken me,” before being dashed against the rocks and breathing his last breath.


“I can’t even begin to imagine the intensity of the father’s grief,” the old preacher said as he watched as his son’s friend frantically trying to cut through what had become a life-line; the only thing standing between him and instant death. The line had somehow become entangled with his left foot and pained him greatly. Can you imagine how the father must have felt? It was as though the boy didn’t want to enter into the safety of the calm waters of the bay unless there was an easier less painful way. And then, an amazing thing happened. The boy suddenly had a change of heart. It seemed as though he had an irresistible impulse to drop his knife and cooperate with the rescue attempt, because he did. He stopped resisting the father’s efforts, and became willing to accept the father’s offer to save him; no strings attached, and finally allowed himself to be towed to safety.


Up above in the parking lot, a horrified grief stricken mother collapsed and after she was revived, found it next to impossible to understand how her husband could turn his back on his own flesh and blood. It was also difficult for her to accept the Bible’s teaching that all the good works God had prepared in advance for her son to do were finally completed in a place called Devil’s Inlet. She was unable to look at the scene through eyes of faith and visualize that at the exact moment of her only child’s death, his spirit was whisked away and escorted by God’s holy angles into His heaven, and not a second sooner or later than the Creator God had ordained from before He spoke His world into existence.


Because she hadn’t grown in her faith like God wants all His adoptive children to do, she was unable to rejoice and take comfort in the fact that her son was now experiencing wonderful things that no human eye had ever seen, nor mind conceived, what God had prepared for those who love Him.  Her little faith didn’t enable her to accept the fact that from her husband’s and son’s and the other boys perspective, that squall was a perfect storm, and the very means God had, among other blessings that day, ordained to usher her beloved boy into His outstretched arms to enjoy eternal happiness, joy and contentment.


Nor was she able to fully understand the enormity of the love her husband and son had for lost sinners, who, because of their sins and unless rescued by Jesus, would remain condemned by a Righteous God to an eternity of everlasting separation from Himself and His adoptive children. “And at the time, until God gave me a new heart and put His Spirit in me and inclined me to follow Him, neither did I, said the old preacher, “as I was towed behind the boat to safety.”


Well, that’s my Easter story for this year. Some of you have heard the original version of it a number of years ago. Others may be hearing it for the first time. Although it’s only a story; it’s a story which is saturated with Scripture. I’ve designed it to draw your attention to Jesus Christ and His incredible love for poor lost sinners such as you and me. I hope each of you folks are able to identify with that non-believing boy. I certainly can. Until I had a change of heart, most of the time it was all about me; my needs, my happiness, my plans etc. Through miserable storms throughout my life, many of which I brought upon myself, I now know a merciful loving God was pleading with me to turn my life over to Him. Disappointments, rejection, discouragement, frustration, loneliness, and losses of many kinds were instruments in His merciful hands designed to bring me to my senses and get with His program. God was screaming at me through them; pleading with me to stop trying to cut through the life line Jesus offered me and was made possible only through His supernatural accomplishment on that first Easter morning a little more than two thousand years ago. I have to admit there have been times after I grabbed hold of that life line, I deliberately tried to cut through it so I could continue putting myself first. On this side of eternity, I’ll never know how close I came to severing the last tread of His lifeline and needlessly plunging head first kicking and screaming into the bowels of hell. And neither do any of you!


I want to leave each of you with one final thought. If anyone hasn’t already done so, I plead with you to grab hold of the life line Jesus is offering you right at this very moment, and don’t ever, ever try to cut yourself free by not struggling with everything you have to keep the First Commandment: to love Him with all of your mind, and all of your heart, and all of your soul and all of your strength. Finally, I want you to know that for the past couple of weeks I have been praying that those of you who have just heard my Easter story, and all who may read it later, will accept the love of Jesus Christ, the Risen Savior.





Print Friendly, PDF & Email

April 24, 2011 Posted by Categories: Stories Tagged with:

6 Responses to “A Perfect Storm (Revised)”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *