July 7, 2010
Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I spent a night and a day, adrift at sea. 2 Corinthians 11:25
"Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale, a tale of a fateful trip, that started from this tropic port aboard this tiny ship." Those are the opening words to the theme song for Gilligan's Island, and they are applicable to the story I'm going to tell you.
In this case, the "tropic port" was Belleair Beach, Florida. The "tiny ship" was a pool float -- yes -- a pool float. And the skipper and crew were one man -- a man who apparently passed out on that float at a Tampa beach resort.
The man adrift was spotted by a boater who called in a report to the Coast Guard. When the Coast Guard and a Clearwater Fire Rescue unit found the floating fellow, he was still unconscious.
Eventually the man woke up, was examined, and released.
The Coast Guard said the man was very lucky. He could have kept on floating, floating into oblivion. Oh, one other thing -- the Coast Guard crew also said they were pretty sure the man was drunk.
It was not alcohol that was the cause of St. Paul finding himself adrift in the Mediterranean. No, Paul thought such a situation was most certainly a result of his overwhelming desire to share the Savior's story of salvation with sinners.
Paul's attitude toward difficulties stands in contrast with what we normally hear from Christian preachers on the TV and radio. All too often these public representatives of contemporary Christianity imply that God has nothing better to do than pay our bills, take care of our ills, make us more successful and, in every way, run interference so we can get anything and everything our hearts desire.
Those are two opposing points of view. I wonder . . . what did Jesus say about difficulties?
• In Matthew 10:22, Jesus said, "All men will hate you because of Me, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved."
• In John 15:20a, the Lord warned, "Remember the word that I said unto you, 'The servant is not greater than his lord.' If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. . . . "
• In Matthew 16:24-25, Jesus said, "If anyone would come after Me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for Me will find it."
The Savior believed there is a cost in serving and following Him. Anyone whose life is committed to the Lord of Heaven can anticipate problems, pains, and persecution. Even so, we bear these things because we know our difficulties are nothing compared to the Christ who lived a perfect life, fulfilled every law, resisted every temptation, and allowed Himself to be sacrificed for our redemption on Calvary.
Still, as Isaiah said, "... and by His stripes we are healed" (Isaiah 53:5b). Because of Jesus' sacrifice we will never be spiritually set adrift.
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, You suffered much so I might have peace. No matter what comes my way, may I serve You with gladness. May I repent of that which I have done wrong, and live my life in thanksgiving to You. In Your Name. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries