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“He reached down from on high and took hold of me; he drew me out of deep waters. He rescued me…the LORD was my support…he rescued me because he delighted in me.” (Psalm 18:16-19)
“But now, this is what the LORD says–he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior…” (Isaiah 43:1-3)
During a particular season in my life I got hit by big, strong waves in nearly every area. They came in the form of intensely stressful situations, heartbreaking situations, lingering illness, isolation, insomnia, discouragement, loneliness, satanic attacks, etc.
After the first couple of waves hit me, I could still see calm water just ahead. The thought of better, calmer circumstances in the near future became my earthly hope. I was confident I would soon recover from these waves that had knocked me down and that I would soon get “back on top of things” again. Unfortunately, whenever the calm water was nearly within my grasp, another large wave would come and strike me. Life’s circumstances had begun to play a cruel game of devil’s advocate with me. Time and time again, just when things couldn’t get any worse, they got worse!
The waves were hard to take, but having my earthly hope snuffed out again and again was even harder to take, especially when it always seemed deliverance was nearly within my grasp. “Hope deferred makes the heart sick” (Proverbs 13:12).
Eventually, I began to sink in the stormy seas. The waves had become too strong for me. Earthly hope could no longer sustain me, for it is altogether vain hope. I felt like the men on the apostle Paul’s storm-tossed ship, “When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved” (Acts 27:20).
In my distress I cried out to the Lord, “Save me, O God, for the waters have come up to my neck. I sink in the miry depths, where there is no foothold. I have come into the deep waters; the floods engulf me” (Psalm 69:1-2).
I knew that sinking beneath the waves was not the victorious Christian life that Christ died on the cross to give me. Something was deeply wrong with me. I was not living a true form of Christianity but a false one, and it failed me in my hour of need (Matthew 7:24-27). I realized I had become complacent during the recent sunny weather in my life and had foolishly begun to place my hope in seeing these sunny circumstances continue rather than firmly placing my hope in Christ, the solid rock through all circumstances.
As the elements continued to batter me, I repented of my folly. Like Paul’s shipmates once again, I abandoned all my earthly means of being saved, “In attempt to escape from the ship, the sailors let the lifeboat down into the sea…Then Paul said…’Unless these men stay with the ship, you cannot be saved.’ So the soldiers cut the ropes that held the lifeboat and let it fall away…Cutting loose the anchors, they left them in the sea and at the same time untied the ropes that held the rudders. Then they hoisted the foresail to the wind and made for the beach” (Acts 27:30-32, 40).
I cut loose my earthly lifeboat and my earthly anchors and put all my hope in Christ. When I did, I immediately rose up, just like a cork, on top of the waves with him. The difference was so immediate and dramatic that it really surprised me. I marveled that, although the waves beneath my feet were still raging, yet by God’s grace I was walking on top of them rather than sinking beneath them, just as he intends all his children to. In the midst of many hardships and distresses I was filled with the joy of the Lord, for he was with me!
“Those who trust in the LORD are like Mount Zion, which cannot be shaken but endures forever.” (Psalm 125:1)