The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 9/28

Posted on | September 28, 2015 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 9/28

Scripture reading: Proverbs 3:5–6

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

One day he got into a boat with his disciples, and he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side of the lake.” (Luke 8:22)

I have always preferred a canoe to a rowboat. In a canoe, I use a single paddle from side to side that enables me to glide smoothly toward my desired destination. Because I’m facing forward I can easily see up ahead and anticipate what’s coming. But a rowboat is another story. Much heavier and more clumsy to maneuver, two oars are needed and must be worked in unison if the vessel is to move forward in a straight line. But the worst thing about a rowboat is that I can’t see where I am going! My back is facing forward and my face backward. The only thing I can see clearly is where I’ve been! In a canoe, I am in control because I know where I am headed. But in a rowboat, I am moving blindly, backing into an unknown future.

In spite of my personal preference in boating, the Bible pictures faith more like a rowboat than a canoe. I’m not talking about oars and paddles or the shape of the keel. I’m talking about which direction the person in the boat is facing. In Hebrew thought, the past is in front of you while the future is behind you. The word often used to describe the future can also describe a person’s “hind parts” or, his “end.” In other words, our end lies ahead of us. So when the Bible states that “the end of the wicked shall be cut off” (Psalm 37:38 KJV), it is not referring to his anatomy but to his future destiny. We back into our future and see clearly only where we’ve been. It is this Hebraic way of thinking that helps us understand the Biblical        concept of trust. Dr. Dennis Kinlaw, in his book, Lectures on Old Testament Theology, explains that because God is the Eternal One, it makes good sense:

. . . to put your hand in His and let Him lead you! You will still go stumbling because it’s not natural for us to walk backwards. It is awkward. But that is where the trust comes out. . . . So in short, the Israelites backed into the future with their faces firmly fixed on the past.

At first, this idea of backing into the future seems absurd. But if Jesus Christ is in your boat and if his hand is on the tiller, what is there to fear? Your job is to row. His job is to guide you safely home! Though you can’t see where you’re going, you can see where you’ve been. His track record speaks for itself. He has never failed you in the past and he will not fail you in the future. If you turn around and try to peer into the future, you will have to cease rowing and that will only slow you down and make your journey more frustrating. So row, row, row your boat . . . and trust the One whose nail-pierced hand is firmly on the tiller.

Hymn writer John Newton had once been a sea captain himself. He knew well the dangers of sailing without seeing clearly the path ahead. But when he became converted to the Lord Jesus, he discovered that if Christ was in the vessel he was safe from all harms.

Begone unbelief; my Savior is near,
And for my relief will surely appear;
By prayer let me wrestle, and he will perform;
With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.

His love in time past forbids me to think
He’ll leave me at last in trouble to sink;
While each Ebenezer I have in review
Confirms his good pleasure to help me quite through.

When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off. You sit still and trust the engineer. —corrie ten boom

point to ponder • With Christ in the vessel, I smile at the storm.

prayer focus • A situation in your life where you need to trust in Christ’s guidance and provision

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