I was amazed at this picture of destruction in Pearl Harbor as I am every year at this time. Agony, burning, explosions, death, destruction, mayhem….scars. But here is what is most interesting: this ship – the USS Shaw – was actually repaired and served in the rest of WW 2 in the Pacific. When I first saw the picture, I thought, “Wow – that ship is done for! Can’t rebuild that one!!” And that is what the enemy would like for us to believe as well for our own lives! In spite of the Hope of Glory, if satan can convince US that there is no hope of rebuilding, that we are done-for, and to just give up, then he wins! Remember, satan’s words are all lies. Smoke and mirrors!! Jesus told us that in John 8:44 –
“Why is my language [what I say] not clear to you? Because you are unable to hear what I say. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning…there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies.”
Wow!! Jesus said that to the religious leaders of that day! Makes me wonder what religious leaders I should be following today? I guess those who espouse and worship Jesus as Savior and Lord are a pretty good bet – which is what THOSE religious leaders did NOT do! So we must keep that in mind as we hear satan’s whispers in our ears and heart. Lies like, “You have REALLY messed up now! Why bother! You can never be fully used of God now!!” or how about this one that resonates with many young people, “You were born out-of-wedlock – see! You are not even supposed to be here! You are an ACCIDENT! You need to exit so that this place can be put back into the correct balance…” Or how about this one – “Yes God loves people – but not you. You are a screw up! You have pissed Him off so many times now that He is done with you! You might just as well give in and do what you want – have all the fun now cuz when you die, it is all going to be over!” [If you want answers to those lies or any of the millions of others, please write to me so I can help you know the truth!]
So, a lie implies that the opposite of what the liar said is actually what is true. So, if we are told we are an accident, then we must NOT be! The Bible makes that clear! The truth is in Psalm 139:13-15 –
“…For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well. My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them…”
There is no special “condition” or “exception” in that statement! We cannot even be here without God’s permission! If He made you, then you must NOT be an accident. If He formed you, then who and how you are when you are redeemed and set free is who and how He designed and intended you to be. If we hear the lie, “You have really done it now, there is no hope for you. God is so mad at you – He is just done with you! Give it up!” Then try this on for size:
Romans 5:20, ” …where sin increased, grace abounded all the more…”
Here is what is awesome about that verse: the word “increased” and “abounded” are from the same root word in the Greek language – which is what this passage was originally written in. It is the word ἐπλεόνασεν, transliterated as “epleonasen” which means “increase, make increase, grow.” The Word “increase” is merely that basic word. But when God has Paul write the word “abounded” – He has Paul use another word: ὑπερεπερίσσευσεν, which when transliterated is hypereperisseusen (again same root word, but with a prefix on the front of it!) which means “be very abundant, cause to abound greatly.” So the idea is “You sinned? Okay, Wll my grace is bigger than your sin! So get over it! Press onward!”
Are you getting the picture of God’s heart? It doesn’t matter what you do. God’s grace will always be even more abundant than our screw up. God is NOT done with us! HE promised that! Philippians 1:6 tells us that
“…And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ…”
Let me leave you with this final word. One of my favorite passages in 2 Corinthians 4 (which is actually Paul’s 4th letter to Corinth, not his 2nd as many think). I have learned that God’s economy is always above and separate from whatever is happening in this world. If Greece is bankrupt, God’s economy is flourishing. If Washington is corrupt, God’s economy is always full of integrity. God’s ways are simply above and beyond our ways (what did Buzz Lightyear say…”to infinity and beyond!”). So what we see with our limited eyes is not the final word – like ships exploding and burning. Because our eyes cannot see the God of the universe at work behind the scenes…but we know He is there…He tells us He is! Look at 2 Corinthians 4:7- 11
“But we have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us. We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.”
Where Jesus is, there is Life. Even in the midst of death and destruction, sin and filth, violence and mayhem – Jesus brings healing, peace, life, grace, forgiveness, order, and purpose. God never promised a life without pain, or alife without trouble. But He DID promise safe delivery OUT OF them!
“…Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all…” (Psalm 34:19 ESV)
That is why a few verses later we are told where to focus our thoughts and attentions:
“…So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18 ESV)
If you are hurting, pray and invite the “unseen” God – the Holy Spirit into your hurt. Invite Jesus there. Take Him back to the source of that hurt and pain. Invite Him there. He actually WAS there in real life, but invite Him there in your memory and in your spirit. Ask Him to bring healing, peace, life, grace, forgiveness, order, and purpose in those memories, thoughts, or experiences. He is so faithfully loving and gentle. And because that’s how God is, like the USS Shaw, you WILL sail again!
(The above song was written by Steven Curtis Chapman when he lost his daughter…)
By the way, want “the rest of the story”? Here is what happened to the USS Shaw (Copied from the US Naval historical records as recorded at http://www.history.navy.mil/photos/sh-usn/usnsh-s/dd373.htm):
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, Shawwas in drydock at the Navy Yard there. Enemy bombs set her afire and her forward magazines exploded, severing her bow and wrecking her bridge area.
However, Shaw‘s midships and stern portions were still essentially intact. Following temporary repairs at Pearl Harbor, in February 1942 she went to the Mare Island Navy Yard for a new bow and general overhaul. When this work was completed in late June 1942, Shaw spent several months in training and convoy escort duties. Sent to the South Pacific in October 1942, she participated in the Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands late in that month. While supporting the Guadalcanal Campaign, she ran aground at New Caledonia on 10 January 1943, requiring a trip to Pearl Harbor for extensive repairs.
Shaw returned to the war zone in October 1943 and took part in operations around New Guinea and New Britain. She was hit in an air attack off Cape Gloucester on 26 December 1943. After repair of that damage, she operated in the Central Pacific, including participation in the invasion of Guam. From October 1944 into 1945, Shaw escorted Western Pacific convoys and help liberate Luzon and other parts of the Philippines. When the Pacific war ended in August 1945, Shaw had just completed another overhaul, including major enhancement of her anti-aircraft armament. However, she was too old for retention in the post-war fleet and was sent to the U.S. east coast for inactivation.
Most would have thought that the Shaw was done for at the first attack. But because of her designer she was repaired and went on to endure several more major catastrophies, and was still used in the American naval service! We too are still useful to God in His plan. NEVER give up!
For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable. (Romans 11:29 ESV)