Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Crocodiles and Desperate Faith

This is my column for the August edition of Temple City Life. This fall I'll be speaking on
"The March of the Unqualified" based on the people of faith in Hebrews 11.

It’s a guilty pleasure with a Biblical name: the comic strip, “Pearls Before Swine.” Amongst the animal characters Stephan Pastis created for strip are some eternally inept crocodiles who seem obsessed with tricking and eating Zebra, whom they cheerfully refer to as “zeeba neighba.” Somehow these crocs have Cajun accents, which oddly make them more endearing despite their homicidal tendencies. Here’s a sample:

In the first panel, you see two crocs. Croc one says, “Hello Zeeba neighba. Leesten. We make you promise. You veesit us and we no keel you. We swear on bee-loved muhder’s life.”

Second panel, a croc with long hair, obviously mom croc, says “Ack!” and keels over dead.

In the third panel, croc one says, “You keel mom, Larry.” And Larry replies, “Dat gonna weigh on conshuss.”

FYI, Crocodiles are distinct from alligators. Not only do they look different—crocs are lighter than gators and have narrower and shorter heads, crocs also prefer saltwater and gators prefer freshwater. However, if I was in the water with one, I wouldn’t stop to check the difference—I’d make waves and get out of there!

The Nile croc is considered the most dangerous of all. Each year hundreds of people are killed by Nile crocodiles. Now imagine intentionally placing your three-month old infant son in a basket in the Nile as an act of faith in God. That’s crazy, that’s desperate, and that’s what the parents of Moses did.

Have you ever experienced desperate faith? Desperate faith is when you realize that God and God alone can get you out of the mess that you’re in. That’s stepping out in the dark with the hope that God’s holding the light.

I can’t imagine anything more desperate than when your child’s life is on the line. God put a deep crease in our hearts for our kids. We’d die for them in a minute. There are people here who’ve had to endure losing a child and can testify to that incredible pain.

Hebrews 11:23 says this about the faith of Moses’ parents:

By faith Moses' parents hid him for three months after he was born, because they saw he was no ordinary child, and they were not afraid of the king's edict.

Now here we’re told two things about the desperate faith of the parents of Moses. The first was that by faith they took action; the second is that we’re told by faith they didn’t fear; they trusted in God.

These two are great guidelines when we’re facing crisis situations. Faced with a nightmare situation, they did not freeze. They took action.

They loved their son and preserved his life. They hid him as long as they could but soon it became obvious that something had to be done to prevent the discovery of his birth. Their faith was on display here--they trusted God and did what they had to do to save their baby's life.

The plan was to build a small waterproof basket that could hold the baby and float in the reeds on the edge of the river. Of course there were dangers--animals like those crocodiles were a constant threat. But this faith of his parents was a faith that God was able to protect this child! The basket was placed among the reeds and his sister, Miriam, watched from a distance to be sure the basket was safe. And how had this plan come to mind? I can’t help but believe that they had figured out where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed in the river, and when she came. They had made a plan, to the best of their ability, seeking God the whole time.

The first thing to do in desperate situations is to do your duty, use your head, and make a plan. That’s what they did.

The second thing they did was that the learned how not to fear. The Bible often connects fearlessness and faith, for example, Psalm 27:1:

The LORD is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear? The LORD is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?

This is real faith. Not the wimpy faith that millions of professing Christians have—a faith that’s never tested, stretched or challenged becomes flabby. I’m talking about a faith that’s exercised like a muscle; a faith that depends on the power of the Holy Spirit, a faith in the word of God in the Scripture, a faith in God and in God alone. A grown-up kind of faith.

How do you get that kind of faith, and that kind of fearlessness? You get it by having a heart so full of God that’s there’s no room for fear. That’s why “the fear of the Lord” is important. The fear is the Lord is not about being afraid of God, but regarding God so highly that His presence pushes away all other fears.

You have to make a choice between faith and fear. You will say yes to one of them and no to the other; which is it? God or fear; one will rule, or the other will. And when He rules, you can hang on—even when the crocs are at your door!

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