There we stood, on an inlet where several bodies of water – all propelled by different currents – collided. One after another, waves crashed into each other, sending spray up into the air. As the current sent water surging back into the tumultuous inlet, my toes became buried in the sand as it attempted to hurry along with the receding waves.
My mom’s favorite shelling spot, the beach was covered in beachcomber’s treasure. But the rare shells just coming up out of the water were hard to catch before they were thrust back out into the ocean.
I watched the water, feeling the sand sinking between my toes, and watching shells tumble and roll endlessly up to the beach and back into the sea. Our journey as Christ followers can often be portrayed as a calm ocean sunset, or a gorgeous morning sunrise. But there are many currents colliding around us, and in us. We feel akin to those shells rolling back and forth, in and out of the ocean, beat up by the sand and the sea. Sometimes, it’s hard to hear God’s voice and gain direction amidst the clamor of daily life. There are no time outs. No do-overs. The days keep coming and going.
“I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day- and not only to me, but also to all who have longed for his appearing” (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
“Paul changed his metaphor to underscore the struggle and reward that accompany ministry,” John Koessler wrote, “It was a good fight, not because of the goal, but because of the manner in which it had been executed.”
Paul, in the verses above, is looking back on 30 years of ministry (NIV Study Bible). The true story of his testimony bleeds off the page as we read his words, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith” (v. 7). It’s hard to get past our ambitions, goals, and short-sighted thinking. Even when we are emerged in the Bible daily, it’s not possible to understand every why and each purpose God has coming down the pipe for us. Paul wrote, “They must keep hold of the deep truths of the faith with a clear conscience” (1 Timothy 3:9).
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Life is as deep as the ocean currents I witnessed in the inlet the day my family went shell-hunting on vacation. To fight the good fight, and finish the race, we have to keep the faith, the deep truths, with a clear conscience. Scripture tells us to take our thoughts captive. The only way to know the truth is to learn God’s Truth in the Bible. Paul equated ministry with a race, and righteousness with a crown, normally presented to the winner. Let’s be careful not to mistake racing alongside each other for competing for the crown. Jesus came for all of us. If we aren’t careful, we can waste a lot of energy and miss opportunities to share the Gospel truth, like shells rolling up and down being tossed by confused currents.
This world is cursed by the currents of sin, but the stream of Living Water living in us is more powerful than any sea spray attempt to blind or throw us off of the purpose God has planned for our lives. John recorded Jesus’ words, “Whoever believes in me, as Scripture said, rivers of living water will flow from within them” (John 7:38). We have a power in us greater than colliding rip currents. Jesus stood up and stopped the storm for his disciples. He will stand up and stop the storm for us.
God is faithful to complete every good work He begins in us. We were never asked to be perfect. Perfection is impossible this side of heaven. Criticism and condemnation have no place in the heart of a Christ follower, because He died a horrific death to free us from those very chains and forgive us for our sins.
We are called to fight the good fight, like Paul, by focusing not on the many distractions, limitations, and imperfections we are plagued with, but by embracing the strength within us to do big things regardless of them. And on the days when the sea is calm and the sunset is serene, we can wholeheartedly embrace the blessings of the Lord as we stride on in the name of Jesus.
NIV Study Bible, Copyright © 1985, 1995, 2002, 2008, 2011 by Zondervan.
Moody Bible Commentary, Copyright 2014 by Moody
NIV Cultural Backgrounds Study Bible. Publishers. Copyright © 2016 by Zondervan.
Photo credit: Pexels/Johannes Plenio
Meg, freelance writer and blogger at Sunny&80, is the author of “Friends with Everyone, Friendship within the Love of Christ,” and “Surface, Unlocking the Gift of Sensitivity,” She writes about everyday life within the love of Christ. Meg earned a Marketing/PR degree from Ashland University but stepped out of the business world to stay at home and raise her two daughters, which led her to pursue her passion to write. She has led a Bible Study for Women and serves as a Youth Ministry leader in her community. Meg, a Cleveland native and lifelong Browns fan, lives by the shore of Lake Erie in Northern Ohio with her husband, two daughters, and golden doodle.