Wake Up!

“Be dressed ready for service and keep your lamps burning, like servants waiting for their master to return from a wedding banquet, so that when he comes and knocks they can immediately open the door for him.”
Luke 12:35-36, NIV

In 1917, New York artist, James Montgomery Flagg painted the World War I poster Wake Up, America. A young lady is shown sleeping while the storm of war brews behind her. Dressed in red, white, and blue apparel, she wears a Phrygian cap, the symbol of liberty. Flagg painted the poster with hopes that it would inspire Americans to wake up and do their part for the war effort. In response to calls like his, thousands of men, women, and children stepped into their respective roles. The dedication and unity of those who answered the call to serve changed the tide of war and secured America’s victory and the freedoms we now enjoy.

Today, another storm brews across our land. America is undergoing a tremendous shift in its social, political, economic, and religious atmosphere. As we move farther and farther away from the godly principles upon which our nation was founded, there is a steady rise in division, discord and strife. The Scripture text exhorts believers to be ready to serve and be lights in the dark days prior to Christ’s return. Are you prepared for what lies ahead—am I? Are we ready to respond to God’s call to serve? Will we open the door to His daily presence in our lives and move forward in the power of His Spirit?

In Genesis 14, when Abram heard that his nephew Lot had been taken captive by the enemy, he rallied his troops and stepped out to rescue him. Yes, Lot chose to live in the wicked city of Sodom, but Abram never gave up on him. Because of his unconditional love and valiant effort, Lot’s freedom was restored.

Two of my favorite verses in Scripture are Romans 8:35 and 37: “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

Wake up, children of God! United in prayer and service, we can change the tide of the spiritual war raging around us. Fight for the souls of those you love. Christ gave His all for their freedom. The enemy is a defeated foe. Believe it. Suit up. Step out. Step into the role God has for you. His presence is with you. We are more than conquerors!

Starr Ayers

Storm Warning

“Immediately, Jesus made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of him to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After leaving them, he went up on a mountainside to pray.       Later that night, the boat was in the middle of the lake, and he was alone on land. He saw the disciples straining at the oars, because the wind was against them.”
Mark 6:45‒48a, NIV

Our ship left Prince Edward Island and sailed up the Gulf of St. Lawrence toward Quebec City. The waters had been relatively calm, considering we’d left Boston on the heels of Hurricane Earl. The night’s forecast: a strong gale and rain. We hadn’t interpreted “strong gale” to mean seventy mph winds and fifty-foot waves that would rock us sleepless. Perhaps that night, I experienced some of the same emotions the disciples did in their storm.

After a full day of ministry, the disciples waited in the boat for Jesus. Would the throngs of people ever leave? The moments must have felt like hours as the storm clouds gathered overhead. Imagine their readiness as Jesus gave them the green light to go on ahead of him to the other side of the lake. Serving their Master was invigorating. A few storm clouds would never dampen their spirits.

Later that evening, the storm rolled in. The disciples were vulnerable and afraid. As the waters threatened to overtake their small boat, they struggled to stay on course. Surely Jesus knew the storm was coming. Why would he send them out to face it alone? Where was Jesus when they needed him?

Mark 6 addresses the common misconception that following God assures smooth sailing. Jesus wasn’t oblivious to the storm. He sent the disciples out alone knowing they would encounter the storm. Uprooting them from their comfort zones and placing them in a situation which required extreme faith, would reveal their weaknesses, strengthen their spiritual muscles, and ultimately summon them to new depths of dependency on him. The experience would allow them to see the futility of braving life’s difficulties in their own strength.

Jesus ordained the storm, but his compassion for his disciples transcended it. Although the disciples lost sight of Jesus, he never lost sight of them. From the mountain, he watched and prayed to his Heavenly Father for their safety and at just the right moment, he intervened.

Storms come to us all—even believers. We’re not sheltered from them, but we are sheltered in them. Perhaps, you’re experiencing opposition as you strive to do God’s will? Are you straining at the oars? Can you relate to the futility of self-effort? Don’t allow storm clouds to dampen your spirits. Rest in the following truths: Jesus’s eye is always on you. His prayers continually cover you. And he will meet you in the waters of your adversity.

Rejoice! Help is on the way.

-Starr Ayers

Drop Anchor

“Then he climbed into the boat with them, and the wind died down. They were completely amazed. When they had crossed over, they landed at Gennesaret and anchored there.”       
Mark 6:51, 53, NIV

A young naval academy graduate, still very much a novice, was asked to get the ship underway and navigate out of port. His efficiency was astounding. He did everything according to the book. Shortly, a sailor approached him with a message from the captain. It said, “My congratulations on your underway preparations, which were nearly perfect. You performed with amazing speed and precision. In your haste, however, you overlooked one fundamental rule: Always make sure that your captain is on board before you leave. I’ll be waiting on the dock for your return.”

Navigating life is problematic. We will hit rough waters. Regardless of our skill as sailors, our best efforts will never be enough to circumvent life’s storms. Our neglect of the life-saving power and presence of Jesus will inevitably end in disaster.

After a full day of ministry, Jesus sent his disciples on ahead of him to Bethsaida. In obedience, they stepped into their boat and pushed away from the shore without him. Soon strong winds and mounting waves threatened their very existence. They strained at the oars to keep their boat upright, but all they could do was not enough. It was in their darkest hour that they cried out, and Jesus came walking toward them on the water. As soon as he stepped into their boat, the winds died and the waves ceased. They immediately dropped anchor at Gennesaret and stood amazed.

The Scriptures tell us that Bethsaida was a place of unbelief—so much so that Jesus refused to perform any miracles there (Luke 10:13). Gennesaret, on the other hand, was a place of beauty and fruitfulness. When the disciples discovered that the waters around Bethsaida were turbulent, they admitted their need and put their trust in Jesus.

We can do the same.

We must drop the oars of our self-sufficiency and prayerfully invite Jesus into our boats. Just as the captain of the young sailor was waiting on the dock for his ship’s return, Jesus is waiting for us as well. It is never too late. He is listening for our cry. Whether he is waiting on the dock for our return or walking upon the water, he will hear us and respond.

Call out. Place Jesus at the helm of your life and leave your place of doubt and fear. A place of fruitfulness and blessing awaits you.

Anchor there and stand amazed.

-Starr Ayers