Jump Start # 2385
Acts 27:22 “Yet now I urge you to keep up your courage, for there will be no loss of life among you, but only of the ship.”
Our verse today comes from Paul’s travel to Rome. He was a prisoner on a ship. They were going through a serious storm, maybe even a hurricane. Cargo was thrown overboard. The ship would eventually break apart and everyone who be in the sea, doing their best to survive. In the midst of this storm, God assures Paul that he and everyone on the ship will make it safely. No one would die. Our verse is Paul’s assurance of what God had told him.
Keep up your courage. Parents say things similar to this when a child is scared of a storm or has to get a shot. Be brave. Be strong. Don’t be scared. It’s easy for the one not going through things to say those things. When I was a kid and had to get a shot at the doctor’s office, my mom always told us to look at the curtains. Somehow there is a connection between looking at curtains and pain for me.
I’ve known several brave people in my life. My dad is one. When he tells me about what he went through in W.W. II, I don’t think I could have done it. I know a few police officers. Their stories are hard to imagine. I have a friend who is a firefighter. He has done several heroic and brave things to help people.
There is a difference in being brave and being a risk taker, of simply being dumb. Some people drive cars like they are playing a video game. There’s no bravery in that. They are foolish and are putting others in harms way. Daring someone to swallow a fish, or, even eating as many hotdogs as possible in a short time, isn’t brave. Those things are not good for the body and they don’t muster a lot of courage.
But I know someone who is very brave. He is a soldier in both the United States military and in God’s army. He’s done a lot of good and is well liked. But his greatest battle is before him. He has a rare form of cancer. He’s been very ill. He decided yesterday that he was finished with all the treatments, procedures, tests, pills and IV’s. He wants to go see Jesus. I love this man. I mentioned a Rolex watch once in a sermon and he brought a fake one to me. It sure looked like the real deal to me. A teacher of the Bible, a generous man with a kind heart, and now will the hope that he has believed in all of his life, he is ready to pass through the door of death and meet his Savior.
We talked on Sunday. He’s in the hospital. He wants to die at home. We exchanged our love for each other. We laughed. I asked if he was worried or afraid, and he said “no.” Most of the time his eyes were closed. I reminded him of when Jesus went to Jairus’ home to raise his little daughter who had died. Jesus took her by the hand and said, “Little girl, arise.” She opened her eyes and got up. I told my friends, when that girl opened her eyes for the first time, she looked into the face of Jesus. I told him it would likely be the same for him. He opened his eyes and smiled. Such faith.
It takes faith, love and courage to say I’m done with this world. I’m ready to go see Jesus. More than family. More than anything here, there is that desire to be with the Lord. I sure wish I could take a bit of his blood and put it in others. Even among believers, when it comes to the end, I find too many lacking courage, faith and desire to be with the Lord. I had this discussion just a week ago with someone well in her 90’s. I think she is a bit afraid of death. We talked about the door of death. We talked about all the wonderful things on the other side. We saw death as only a big ugly door. Don’t get obsessed with the door. Don’t worry about the door. Yes, it swings only one way. Yes, there is no coming back here. Yes, tears will probably be shed. But when one is a believer, it’s going to be fine. God sends His angels and they will gently carry the soul through that doorway to the other side.
I only hope that I could be as brave as my friend is. Courage—not in myself, but in the Lord. It will be alright, because God says so. Stormy seas. Dark nights. Troublesome times. And, the courage to not give up. Paul said to the Corinthians, we groan longing to be clothed in our heavenly dwelling. This world is not our home, we sing. Won’t it be wonderful there, we tell ourselves.
These are not times to be timid, fearful nor scared. Joseph in a foreign prison. Peter walking on water. Jonah inside a giant fish. Paul being lowered over a wall in a basket. Moses’ parents putting him as a small baby in a basket floating in the Nile River. The woman with the issue of blood, making her way through the crowd to touch Jesus from behind. Daniel in the lion’s den. Stephen raising his voice and preaching Christ. Our Jesus having nails driven through His hands. Courage is written in blood and found on nearly every page of our Bibles. Men and women who have stood and taken abuse because they have loved Jesus.
History continues with these great legacies of faith. Men who risked their lives to translate the Bible into other languages. Men who were arrested for preaching the saving message of Jesus. And, here we are today. Courage, do we have it?
- The courage to stand for what is right
- The courage to not put up with sloppy worship, indifference and apathy
- The courage to invite a friend to worship
- The courage to not allow a professor to mock the God I love
- The courage to tell a friend that he needs Jesus
And, the courage to look at death and not be scared. Bring it on, because we will be triumphant in Jesus Christ. My friend gets to go, but I must stay. He gets to be on the other side, and I must remain on this side. His work is just about finished. Mine is still ahead of me. I’m not sad for him. I wish I could go with him.
Oh, death, where is your sting? Jesus shines through even the darkest of moments in our lives. Faith is the victory that overcomes the world!
God bless you, my friend, Terry. I look forward to seeing you on the other side, in that beautiful room that awaits us!