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Letting go of our lifeboats

Amidst the storms of life, authentic security comes through Christ alone

by John Reitz

We confess our dependence on God for everything and seek to deepen our intimacy with Him by living prayerfully.

In the book of Acts, an entire chapter is given to the suspenseful story of a perfect storm. Hurricane-force winds and waves overtake the ship transporting Paul from Israel to Italy, where he will stand trial for his outspoken commitment to Jesus. As the storm escalates, the crew drops anchor and throws cargo overboard in an attempt to survive. At one point in the story, the sailors decide to make a last-ditch effort and save their own lives by lowering the lifeboat into the sea. But Paul, acting on a message from God, directs the soldiers on board to cut the ropes holding the lifeboat, warning that they’ll die if they don’t stay with the ship. Remarkably, the soldiers listen to Paul and let the lifeboat fall away.

Anyone who has ever sailed before knows that lifeboats provide a final security when your ship is in trouble. Oftentimes, in the midst of life’s storms, we’re a lot like seasoned sailors. We have “lifeboats”—our family, career, house, friends, or savings account—that we cling to for protection. But there will always come a time when we realize that even these “safe places” are not truly secure. As this story in Acts illustrates, what we’ve turned to as lifesaving in the past, may, in reality, be life-threatening. Our lifeboats can actually keep us from God and the true adventure He has for us.

There will always come a time when we realize that our “safe places” are not truly secure.

It is only when we come to the point of recognizing the inadequacies of our false securities that we can begin putting our trust in God and opening ourselves up for life transformation.

In my experience, though, this comes with the unsettling realization that Jesus’ safe place usually feels anything but safe. Relying on God often means that we must take some risks. But I’ve discovered this about the place Jesus has for us: It doesn’t leak. In fact, it is often those places that seem filled with the most danger and risk that invigorate our lives and bring us authentic security in Jesus.

This article originally appeared in the spring 2010 issue of In Part magazine.
John Reitz

John Reitz is the founding pastor of The Bridge Church in Hummelstown, Pa. In April, he will become the senior pastor of Grantham (Pa.) BIC.

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