Thursday, April 23

The perfect storm

You journey through life; its relatively good…..the love of a woman, the respect of your children, security in your profession, and opportunities abundant to serve God. Life happens; loved ones fade into the eternal reward of heaven or hell, regardless of how much you may still need them here or fight to hold them close, children turn from the biblical truths no matter how well you instruct them, train them, and empower them to walk in the paths of the LORD, relationships burdened by life end before they can truly be born, and we do the 'right thing' in balancing and maintaining our budgets and the car blows up, the house catches fire, and our work is gone in the blink of an eye. Relatively, in the prospect of the eternal, life is a good thing regardless. What is of this world will die with this world, and all that we know is eternal will be eternal. We are but pilgrims on a journey to our homeland upon the dirt of this world.

For most people life's routine is flowing along at the even keel, with brief squalls to ripple the surface of their ponds, but nothing more. They are born, grow up relatively peaceful, marry that person who has been their vision of a mate for life, have children, known for being upstanding citizens and religious folk, and then pass on to their rewards having left a legacy of continuousness in their passing. For others, there is a brief time of a tropical storm and its ferocity damages the temporary things within their lives, shaking the foundations of their eternal but sank far into the bedrock…their lives withstand the height of the storm and in a brief time, it passes into the memories of epic tales told to their grandchildren.

For a few, life's routine is nothing more than the collision of the "perfect storm", that combination of conditions, circumstances, and tribulations that come together to create the perfect hurricane upon the open sea, far from the sight of land and hope of rescue. For some, there has never been the moment of knowing a mother's unconditioned love or a father's pride in them. For some, life isn't as simple as going to a well-paying and intellectually challenging job and maintaining the trinkets that such allows; a nicely-appointed home, nice vehicles, and a loving family but rather a struggle against the impending wave that threatens to claim all they love and care for with the uncaring movement of compelled force. For some, peace is more defined because it is a temporary evacuation of water from around them being gathered by the wave building on the horizon.

These few continue to batten down the hatches with well-practiced ease, without wasted motion and wasted emotion. Oh, the weight of the building wave is shadowing their every step and their faces are grimed by the all-too-realistic outlook of annihilation that looms bigger and bigger on the fading horizon. They know that no matter how well they've battened things down and how well they respond to the fervor of the wave's power, there will be less upon the return of the sunlight….if sunlight is what they will see again.

They have wept themselves to the point of exhaustion, beyond the feverous attempt of their humanity to rationalize a dim glimmer of possible hope, and they have done what they could do in the time given to push their fragile craft beyond the grasp of the mother wave. Far from land, further from the hope of human rescue, they prepare for the aftermath of the approaching doom. For these few, the storm has never ended in the journey.

And, in this culmination of the 'perfect storm' they may perish beneath the waves of this bruising, punishing world or cling in the aftermath of its destruction to the flotsam of what remains; the choice is no longer theirs to affect or to vocalize. They are at the mercies of the ocean deep. Life is dealing the cards.

Christianity is facing its 'perfect storm', that combination of humanism (label it postmodern, emergent, universalism, liberalism whatever -ism you wish), moralistic decadence, and cultural isolationism that has come together to feed each other to develop the rogue wave of worldly destruction. As the wave gathers its might, growing in height and strength despite the fierce resistance of the vessel and crew, the world grows darker and the outcome seems assured. The years of 'individual' Christianity and personalized faith have met with the forces of humanism, post-modernism, consumerism and emerging church movements to bring to focus the power given to the Enemy in the end of times. No longer is Truth decisive and absolute, but must make way for cultural changes and economic desires. Churches call for 'economic and spiritual' revival, Christian radio stations promote 'economic' spirituality and isolation and Christians don't even know what they believe as more and more human definition contorts and misshapes simple Truths issued from God in His Word.

The Enemy floats in the most modern, technologically-advanced steel ships made by human hands with human intellect. Solely focused on delivering a human solution to human sin and explaining away the powerfulness of God.

The SS Christianity, a seasoned veteran of the world and its storms, is made of wood and pitch. The engines and a few navigational aids are the only handshake with modern times and human engineering. She is battered, patched, creaking and leaking from the numerous 'tropical storms' that have plagued its passage upon the open waters with equipment lost overboard and never replaced, cobbled tools made from broken remains, and only seaworthy because of the exhaustive efforts of her serving crew. She is far from her homeport where her family awaits her return and far beyond the rescue of the human leadership that has been slowly fading into the eternal of their reward over the decades; some 'victims' if you will of the storms past and others who have faded into the silence of 'retirement', wizened and aged, haunting only the sending off and homecoming of their old ship.

The crew has been whittled down; some have come upon the deep for a season, weathered a storm and recoiled to the calmness of the inland waters, where the depth is measured in the matter of feet rather than miles and the closeness of shore almost guarantees rescue's salvation to deliver them from accidents and freak weather than to be at the mercies of the unseen and unpredictable Master of the Ocean.

Some have spent a fair amount of time upon the open waters, been battered and bruised by the storms of epic tales and widowing nightmares. They have ventured into the depths of the unseen, grabbed their fortunes and made their riches and having horded the empirical wealth of a dangerous life lived, they spend what they gathered in the quiet comfort of home. These veterans sit at the local pubs of the homeport, their faces wizened by the harsh open wind and fiery burning sun that has shaped the measure of their days. They shake their heads in admiration, mixed with a bit of 'heart-felt' gladness, at the foolishness of the 'young' to venture back upon the waves of such a fierce Master.

The remaining crew, a collection of inexperienced 'greenhorns' and seasoned veterans, man the creaking decks littered with debris of endless hours worked pulling the precious cargo of lost souls from the tight grip of the enemy and fighting the storm's gathering fury. They are tired and bruised, wounded by the continuous effort to keep the vessel and crew alive, and the veterans sound out the warning, prepare the ailing ship and her 'greenhorns' as best they can, and turn to watch with a healthy fear…as the wave approaches.

Some greenhorns weep at the life that may be ending here upon the bitter ocean, others question the ideals that drew them to such a dangerous profession; promised wealth untold for a moment's work. The wise ones look to the veterans, drawing comfort from the battered collection of scarred humanity that stand firm at the railings, gather in the wheelhouse with one hand on the steering and one on the engine controls….ready to bring their full measure of seamanship to bear as hell unleashes its fury.

And, as the crest of the gathering force of the storm of -isms/decadence/isolationism is reached; in a world that grows increasingly reliant upon the godhood of its own design, where children carry guns into school to show the world in the moment of their despair that they will matter and the cries of unborn children haunt the dreams of misguided mothers, where the immorality of a few confuse the majority of the borderline and the redefined truth of the moment drowns out the eternal Truth, where true beauty within stands in the physical creation of the Maker's hand and is rejected by the ugliness of mankind's sinfulness, where the angels weep and the whole of creation shakes at the foolishness of mankind's created gods; globalization, global warming, economic prosperity, universal religion, intolerance of absolutes………

Each of the weary crew have their own personal stories of the fight against this storm; gathering now for years. They bear the scars of their own journeys upon the face of the deep; some bear in stark sight the brutality of man's folly. Some have known love only to have it leave them without its embrace, some have seen the blessings of children taken by the evilness of another and too many bear the common wound of an absent father and an even more absent community of faith.

There are those, who can find safer harbors to weather this storm, who fly out into its tempest with the honor of brother- and sisterhood to rescue this battered crew. In the face of overwhelming odds, they set their shoulders and their sights on finding these redeemed souls out in the deep. They go lightly equipped, with only enough protection to help them reach the hearts battered by the tempest. Though separated by distance and time, they face the fury of this "storm" with equal worry, but with a determination to be a deciding force in the crew's endeavor to stay alive. The mission supersedes everything else.

In the end, the brutal wave unleashes its fury and the crew grins…………..

leaning into its mighty grasp with hands working steering and engines in harmony and purpose, as the good ship climbs the mountain of man's folly.

For this may be just another 'storm of the century' or the final glory but the ship and crew know its purpose and will struggle against the approaching destruction with all of their faith, all of their belief, and all of their hope, as if this is a simple squall and not the end of their journey.

Hoping for the end because of the battles already fought, but willing to jump into the fray once again for another season. Because in the face of this greatest attempt to confuse and confound the children of the Most High God, their victory is assured and their reward is promised. The storm has already been defeated, the rescue already performed.

And in the aftermath of this storm, if indeed it is only a 'century's fury' and not the final end; where the world grudgingly erect monuments to the valiant ship and her crew, shaking their heads at the foolishness of dreamers who believe in facing the storm's fury lightly equipped, and epithets are given with reluctant honor to the 'good intentions' of such honorable sailors, the ship and crew will go on to its eternal reward.

For, when the 'perfect storm' of man's sinfulness and rebellion does come together upon the broken surface of a chaotic creation who groans in pain at the foolishness of man's intellectual and inspirational attempts to deny its creator, the Admiral of the Fleet will gather His veteran crew and sail His seaworthy ship into the fury for the victory over the true "Perfect Storm."

In the perfect storm of my life; love realized, spoiled by the circumstances of life itself, the purposed vision seemingly a dream, and the attempt upon attempt to overcome some of the common struggles I face….ship battered and beaten by the merciless sea… that moment, as I gaze upon the cresting wave so massive and dark it blots out the sky, and all possiblity of human hope dies in the sheer sight of its rolling power of destruction…….I have to smile.

Maybe this is the one, that final battle upon the face of this world and I can rest, until that day comes when my Master calls me to join the return and man my station aboard His vessel. Maybe not. Maybe this is just the enemy's lastest and greatest that is nothing more than a 'storm of the century'.

Hope remains. I have face the impossibility of my own abilities to move this wave and know that in the end of it all, I may become a name on the wall of the departed.....

It's time to step aside and let God...........

I grin and push the throttle……………….as do countless others on their own vessels of God's design

This is going to be one heck of a ride…………………………………...

A song rises in my soul…………………

"Father God, we cry to Thee
For those in peril on the sea"

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