On Faith: Follow the map to find your wayWe were looking forward to a couple days of fishing and relaxing on Brule Lake.
By: Joseph Whiting, Grace Baptist Church, Lake County News Chronicle
We were looking forward to a couple days of fishing and relaxing on Brule Lake. My 10-year-old son and I were about half way into our annual canoe trip in the Boundary Waters. Our destination was a lone campsite on an island we knew only as a set of contour lines on the map.
That morning, as we emerged from a calm neighboring lake and portaged down to the big lake, we discovered that the big Brule was in a foul mood. Strong winds and a nasty looking chop gave us ample reason to second-guess our paddling plans for the day.
After evaluating the situation more closely, we discovered that things were not quite as hopeless as they appeared. First, the strong winds would be from behind us. Second, the map indicated that our island destination would become visible soon after leaving the cove we currently occupied. Third, if we kept the wind to our backs, we would simply have to keep the loaded canoe from turning sideways to the wind and tipping in the waves.
With plan in hand, we loaded up and launched out. Our destination soon came into view — a very distant island in a very turbulent sea. With our eyes locked onto that spot, we only had to keep the canoe pointed in the right direction while the winds carried us safely across the lake. We landed safely, thanked God for His protection, and by evening were enjoying a blazing campfire.
These are difficult times in which we live. We face challenges economically, politically, socially, morally, and spiritually. The future is uncertain, and our destination appears to be a small dot on the horizon, partially obscured by the stormy waters around us. I have found the Bible to be a source of great encouragement in times like these. It is an accurate map upon which we may plot a course for our families, our churches, our communities, even our very souls.
In one particular passage, an aged apostle offers inspired wisdom to a young minister. “But evil men and imposters will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived” (II Timothy 3:14, New King James Version). I find these words strangely comforting. Not because I derive a sadistic pleasure in the onward progress of evil. Rather, it comforts me that our sovereign God remains in absolute control despite this steady downward trend.
No need for despair. God is still on the throne. He just wants His people to be aware that things will continue to worsen as we approach the end of this age.
Evil is not the only thing that is supposed to continue in this passage. In the next verse, the Paul urges Timothy, “But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of…” The word translated continue means to remain or abide. It calls for a constant and continual habit of life. Even as the outside world continued toward evil, God wanted Timothy to continue toward the truth, to live in it. There was no need for a new heading. Timothy’s destination remained the same — only the circumstances around him had changed.
Storms come and go. Unpredictable and often deadly, they sometimes find us unprepared. The shipwreck-littered waters of Lake Superior give abundant testimony to that fact. When the raging storm winds rattle your windows, hold fast to the truth revealed in the pages of Scripture. Let none abandon hope. God faithfully rewards those who seek Him, who trust their map, and who stay the course.
Joseph Whiting, a native of Alexandria, Va., accepted the call to be the pastor of Grace Baptist Church in Two Harbors in 2006. He has served in full-time pastoral ministry for 19 years. He and his wife, Lisa, keep busy with ministry and raising their two sons.