Unrestrained Boldness

Quick update: We are currently in dry dock in the Canary Islands. This happens once every few years so the ship can undergo repairs and updates. Basically the entire ship was lifted out of the water, put on rollers, and rolled to a spot in ship yard where they will work on a bunch of things that wouldn’t be possible if it was in the water. This means we also have to climb this very rickety scaffolding in order to get on and off the ship (I will have amazing calf muscles by the time I leave from all those stairs).

There is a ton of construction going on in and around the ship, so it’s very noisy during the day. Also, we have limited electricity sooooooo no aircon… It took me about a week to get smart and buy a fan for my bedroom which is currently fixed at about 30° C. Very warm.

The ship community grew quite small right after the sail. All the families are staying off ship because it isn’t safe for the kiddos to be in ship yard with us. We do have a lot of new people on project teams for the duration of ship yard, though, so it’s been fun to meet some new friends!

Because of how small our group became, they have fewer community meetings and services on board, but we are all working through the book of Acts together through this month.

I’ll be honest, I’ve never read through Acts. I don’t think it would have been my first choice if I had picked the book to work through with everyone. BUT WOW. Guys, I’m only on chapter 6 (I’m way behind because I started late) and I honestly can’t believe I haven’t read through it before.

The POWER of the Holy Spirit blows my mind. In chapter 5, there are a few stories told and it says people were struck with the fear of the Lord when they heard of it then. I couldn’t help thinking, even now these stories are leaving me dumbfounded. How much incredible power is in these Holy Spirit encounters that it leaves people thousands of years later in absolute awe?

This morning, though, something I read left me almost in tears. In the beginning of Acts, the apostles are threatened by the high priest and his officials. They saw the power of the Holy Spirit in the apostles, saw the way it was changing people, and saw how many people were becoming united through this new faith, and they were scared. Everything they knew was being threatened.

However, again and again, it says the apostles boldly preached the gospel. No fear.

At one point, Peter and the apostles are arrested by the high priest and his officials and are brought before them. They are told again to stop preaching. Basically what happens next, is they decide it’s a bad idea to kill them, because they know that it can only go one of two ways. 1.) The apostles have started something themselves that will be disbanded as soon as they are killed, or 2.) The apostles actually are preaching the truth and by killing them, they will have waged war against God.

The high priest decides to play it safe. However, to show them he isn’t messing around, the apostles are brought in and severely beaten.

Here’s the part that hit me the hardest. After being severely beaten, threatened, and mocked, the apostles rejoice.

The apostles left there rejoicing, thrilled that God had considered them worthy to suffer disgrace for the name of Jesus. And nothing stopped them! They kept preaching every day in the temple courts and went from house to house, preaching the gospel of Jesus, God’s Anointed One!

Acts 5:41-42 (TPT)

Rejoicing.

Imagine being severely beaten and rejoicing about the fact that you were. I can’t even imagine what that would look like. Imagine being so filled with the Holy Spirit and so full of excitement because of what you know about the love of God that you are willing not only to endure something like that, but walk out the other side praising God because he found you worthy to go through it.

How many people would do that in today’s world?

I don’t know about you, but sometimes even things other people in the church say to me leaves me hurt and upset. This is what really hit me. As a church, are we really allowing ourselves to experience the power of the Holy Spirit and the love of God? We don’t face the same kind of persecution that the apostles faced. Not many of us would find ourselves in a situation where we would be severely beaten just for telling others that they are loved. But if we did, have we built a relationship with the Divine that would give us the power and courage to rejoice in all our suffering?

I don’t mean just being joyful through pain, I mean being overjoyed. So overjoyed knowing we are worthy to suffer a small fraction of the way he suffered for us.

What would it look like if the church as a whole, began to laugh with joy when the enemy presented us with sickness and pain? What would it look like if we smiled and wholeheartedly loved the people that mock us and talk about us behind our backs? What would it look like if we stopped living our lives fearful of being hurt, and lived our lives instead unconcerned about what happens and trusting God? What would it look like if we rejoiced and thanked God for EVERYTHING, good or bad.

We may not be facing a high priest; the possibility of being killed, stoned, or beaten; or a physical enemy; but we are still fighting a spiritual battle every day. The enemy is doing everything he can to strengthen his grip on this world.

But what if we rejoiced because we know we’ve already won?

Tomorrow

Tomorrow isn’t promised to anyone.

During my highly complicated morning routine of rolling out of bed and immediately searching for coffee, I overhead another crew member talking with one of our cafe workers. She mentioned that she tells her girls that tomorrow is never promised to anyone, so you shouldn’t waste a single moment today or put things off for tomorrow just because you can.

Wow.

That was something said so simply, but it was also highly impactful. The last couple evenings, my reception job on board has been a bit more hectic than usual and has presented a lot of new challenges that I have had to figure out on my own or ask for help with. By the end of my shifts, I have been exhausted and extremely stressed about everything going on and whether or not I’m doing everything correctly.

Last evening specifically, I was sitting at the desk about 30 minutes before the end of my shift, completely exhausted from stress and the events of the day. Our Chief Officer came by and, like every time he walks by, he checked to see if I was still smiling. When I wasn’t, he asked me how I was doing and I shared with him how I was feeling. This opened up an awesome conversation where he reminded me that even if the things I’m doing are extremely important and even if I mess it up, life moves on. We can only do our best, with a smile on our face and then we have to let it be.

This morning as I sat with a little free time to rest, Matthew 6:33-34 came to mind:

So above all, constantly chase after the realm of God’s kingdom and the righteousness that proceeds from him. Then all these less important things will be given to you abundantly. Refuse to worry about tomorrow, but deal with each challenge that comes your way, one day at a time. Tomorrow will take care of itself.

Matthew 6: 33-34 (TPT)

Earlier in that passage in Matthew 6, it talks about everything we need being provided by God. Jesus points out that our lives are much more than the meals we eat, the clothes we wear, and the problems we face. And he then asks where our worrying is getting us. Are we adding anything to our life by stressing about the problems and challenges we face?

Worry has been something I have dealt with for years, and it takes a lot for me to focus in on one thing at a time. Having these reminders this week has relaxed my spirit. I am so thankful for the reminder that God is always present, always loves me, and is always providing for me. Every problem I face is nothing compared to him.

Along with this, I have limited time here on earth. Tomorrow isn’t promised, so it definitely isn’t worth worrying about today. Why would I want to waste time worrying about it if I have no guarantee it will come? And, if it is possible I won’t have tomorrow, why would I want to waste the precious moments I have by worrying about my problems today? If I know God is providing for me and my challenges are nothing to him, then I have no need to worry.

If something goes wrong, life moves on. God is providing for me today. If I am blessed to live tomorrow, then he will provide for me then. If tomorrow doesn’t come, then I will be with him.

The only thing that matters in the end is him. That’s it. Plain and simple. When all is said and done, the most important thing I can do is pursue God, because he is the one thing I can rely on no matter what. And like Matthew 6:33 says, once I am focused on him, he will provide for me abundantly.

He’s got it.

That means I can walk through today with a genuine smile 🙂