“Discernment itself is rooted in the understanding that there is good and bad, that there are God’s ways and other ways. A secular worldview, on the other hand, teaches that truth exists along a continuum. Truth is subjective; it is relative.” Tim Challies
Several weeks after hearing this true story, I’m still chuckling. Back in mid-July, three women were stranded overnight on the banks of the Muskegon River in Western Michigan after a first-time tubing trip. What started out as a fun-filled float down the river, turned into a nightmarish 20+ hour ordeal. The three, all in their 20s, set out around 4 p.m. on July 12th. 24 hours later, they had to be rescued by local fire officials. According to Deputy Fire Chief Bob Grabinski, “They went and bought some tubes and they went to the Maple Island Bridge, which is one of the access points to the river, a popular spot. They were misinformed: Somebody said (the river) makes a big loop and they’d come right back to their car.” Unfortunately, they didn’t understand basic geography.
“They thought it was great,” Grabinski said of the alleged circular river. “They believed it.” The threesome set out on what was expected to be a quick, easy trip. Right about dark they realized that wasn’t the case. They got off the river onto the bank and began screaming for help, but were in an isolated area. Nobody was going to hear their screams. To further complicate matters, they had no food, shelter and were in swimsuits. As they were out on the water, they didn’t bring a cellphone. It was sheer chance they were rescued the next day, about three miles from where they’d launched. A fisherman happened to hear them and called 911.
When first responders found them, they were in good spirits, though they had scratches from trying to walk through some thorny-type bushes and lots of bug bites. Emergency personnel took them back to their vehicle, where it was determined their body temperatures were slightly lower than normal. They were advised to get checked out at a hospital. Since they declined transportation by ambulance, officials didn’t know if they followed up for medical treatment. But their tubing days are over. According to Grabinski. “They said, ‘I will never do this again’.”
“Somebody said (the river) makes a big loop and they’d come right back to their car.” Your Mom told you, “Don’t believe everything you hear,” yet, most do believe everything they hear. We’re told satisfaction comes from the material and physical, temporal world stuff – pleasure, popularity, wealth, a life of ease. It doesn’t. Should we really be surprised when the people of this world “believe everything they hear”? For them, this world is all there is. Life is limited to a horizontal perspective.
What’s heartbreaking though is when Christians, those of us who are otherworldly, who’s life doesn’t end with our last breath “believe everything we hear.” We’d be wise to periodically read the book of Ecclesiastes. It’s the emptiness and exasperation of a man attempting to find meaning and satisfaction by “believing everything he’s heard.”
These women would have saved themselves a frightening night and public shame, if they’d just consulted a map. A little basic knowledge of geography would have spared them lots of embarrassment.
Know something even more foolish? Christians who know God, yet rarely, if ever consult His roadmap for this life and the next. What do you really know? What would you or even others say you’re an expert at? Truly proficient at? More importantly, does it matter? Will it make a difference in this life and more importantly the next?
There’s no question that Richard Dawkins, famed British biologist and atheist, is a genius. Jeff Bezos of Amazon is a brilliant entrepreneur. Usain Bolt is one of today’s greatest athletes. But in a mere fifty years, will it matter? In eternity, none of that will even be on the level of the importance of navel lint. How can we make our lives matter? How can we be people of wisdom? Wonderfully, it’s not a secret for the elite few.
Study and apply God’s Word to your life. Americans prize knowledge. It’s not enough to know truth. We must practice it. We must apply it to life. Wisdom only begins with knowledge. Every believer should spend time in God’s Word nearly every day. Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5) to understand what you read. Ask the Spirit to apply God’s truth to your life.
Please don’t attend church…come to worship. Sitting in a geography class wouldn’t have helped these three women unless they listened, learned and applied it to life. Sitting in a church service physically without engaging mentally and most of all, spiritually can get you stranded in life.
Participate in a group Bible study. Too many of us too highly esteem our own counsel. Just read Facebook, opinions on a blog, or listen to talk radio. One of my favorite verses is Proverbs 17:28, “Even a fool who keeps silent is considered wise; when he closes his lips, he is deemed intelligent.”
Currently, I’m reading The Wright Brothers by David McCullough. It’s amazing how much outside counsel those two brothers sought out. Their success in flying literally came from soaring on the wings of others.
The same is true spiritually. As we engage with others, as we study and work through God’s Word, we all grow. We’re all stretched.
Some of the most ignorant individuals you’ll meet are those who only listen to their own counsel. Many a married couple blunders along because they’ve just talked to each other, rather than seeking outside godly advice. Christianity is not a solo sport. Each of us needs to surround ourselves with godly friends who will “speak the truth in love” in our lives.
God has called us to an upper path of spiritual progress – sanctification. It happens as we’re in the Word, under biblical teaching, interacting with other brothers and sisters, and obediently applying His truth to our daily lives. Far too many of us are satisfied with just going in circles.
Can we help you spiritually? Can we help you know Jesus better? Please check out more resources on our church's web page, Gracechurchwi.org. Or, call us at 262.763.3021. If you'd like to know more about how Jesus can change your life, I'd love to mail you a copy of how Jesus changed my life in "My Story." E-mail me at Carson@gracechurchwi.org to request a free copy. Please include your mailing address.