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Sunday, June 24, 2012

The song Stand By Me

Some years ago, a farmer owned land along the Atlantic seacoast. He constantly advertised for hired hands. Most people were reluctant to work on farms along the Atlantic coast. They dreaded the awful storms that raged across the Atlantic, wreaking havoc on the buildings and crops.

As the farmer interviewed applicants for the job, he received a steady stream of refusals. Finally, a short, thin man, well past middle age, approached the farmer. "Are you a good farm hand?" the farmer asked him. "Well, I can sleep when the wind blows," answered the little man. Although puzzled by this answer, the farmer, desperate for help, hired him.

The little man worked well around the farm, busy from dawn to dusk and the farmer felt satisfied with the man's work. Then one night the wind howled loudly in from offshore. Jumping out of bed, the farmer grabbed a lantern and rushed next door to the hired hand's sleeping quarters. He shook the little man and yelled, "Get up! A storm is coming! Tie things down before they blow away!" The little man rolled over in bed and said firmly, "No sir. I told you, I can sleep when the wind blows."

Enraged by the response, the farmer was tempted to fire him on the spot. Instead, he hurried outside to prepare for the storm. To his amazement, he discovered that all of the haystacks had been covered with tarpaulins. The cows were in the barn, the chickens were in the coops and the doors were barred. The shutters were tightly secured. Everything was tied down. Nothing could blow away. The farmer then understood what his hired hand meant, so he returned to his bed and also slept while the wind blew.

There's a moral to the little story I just told you and it's basically this: when you're prepared, spiritually, mentally and physically, you have nothing to fear. The hired hand was able to sleep while the storm was howling because he had secured all of the things for which he was responsible.

Here in Southern California we have earthquakes quite often and we're always being warned through the media to "be prepared." Especially for the "big one" that we're told is a sure thing to happen. And, not only earthquakes, but we're also warned to prepare for other kinds of disasters such as fires and thefts. Don't we buy insurance for such things as these? Don't we install alarms to alert us of dangers? Yes, we do.

And the reason we have these alarms and insurance and we stockpile supplies is because the dangerous events and disasters come unannounced, don't they? They come at surprising times. The idea is that we're always prepared.

Now up to this point of our lesson, I've only talked about being prepared for temporal, or earthly, things but, it's the spiritual things that should be our priority in preparedness. Sadly though, most people seem to care more about their material possessions than they do their spiritual ones.

As mentioned already, we take great care and pains to make sure we're prepared for material loss or damage, yet we don't exercise the same care for our souls. Why is that, you might ask? If asked, I might explain my thoughts and understanding in this manner.

I believe it can be traced back to the difference between "faith and sight." In other words, we know what earthly storms and disaster are. We've been in them, or at least seen them on the TV news. I've physically been in typhoons, in earthquakes and been surrounded by massive forest fires wherein thousands of houses were burned up and friends lost everything. I'm sure that many of you have had similar experiences. We know by "sight" what earthly "storms" are.

But with God, Christ, heaven, hell and our soul, we can't realize them with our natural senses, can we? These we have to take on "faith." And that's why I think more people operate by "sight" in the area of preparation. And, even then, many don't even prepare for the earthly "storms" because the "big one" hasn't hit them yet. Since it hasn't happened, maybe it's not going to so why prepare.

You know, it's really an easy equation, when you think about it. If you don't believe something is going to happen, you see no need to prepare for it. And there lies the key word - believe. No belief equals no faith. You're simply not going to act if you don't believe.

Think about it this way: you recall the "5 steps to salvation?" You know, "hear, believe, repent, confess and be baptized?" Notice that "believe" is the next step following "hearing." Lots of people "hear" and that's as far as it goes because you have to "believe" to go any further. It's that few who take the "second step" and act upon it. They are the people of "faith" who prepare their soul for "worlds unknown" because they know, by their "faith" that the "storm to end all storms" is coming.

These are the souls who fit the words of James, the ones who "show their faith by their works." (James 2:18) Their belief/faith moves them to act, to prepare for an eternal life in a "place prepared" by God for those who believe the promises made by God in His Word. Just keep in mind that there are two "places prepared" and one of them is for those who do not believe.

Let's wrap up our thoughts today by returning to the idea of "storms." Being a song leader, my thoughts naturally turn to some old hymns that fit with our lesson. One of them is entitled "In The Shelter Of His Arms" and it's some words of the chorus that caused me to relate it to these thoughts. We sing: "There is peace in the time of trouble, There is peace in the midst of the storm, There peace tho the world be raging, In the shelter of His arms."

The other song I was reminded of is: "Stand By Me." It starts off: "When the storms of life are raging, Stand by me..." The gist of the entire song is, that through all the storms of life that come on us, The One who "rules wind and water" is standing beside us and we're in no danger. Because, like the farm hand, we've secured the most precious thing for which we're responsible - our soul.

Parabolically speaking, we can lay our heads on our pillows and sleep when the wind blows because we're prepared for whatever comes "in" this life, but especially, we're prepared for what comes "after" this life.

Ron Covey


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