The Lord is faithful

In the early nineteenth century a stranger went to live beside a vast lake in Canada. Come winter the lake froze over and one day the stranger discovered that he had to make an urgent journey to a settlement on the other side. He didn't know what to do because to walk around the lake would have taken him days. The locals however, told him to simply trust the ice and walk across to the other side!

Although he was reluctant to trust the ice he had no choice and so he started out across the frozen water on his hands and knees. Bit by bit he painfully moved across the frozen surface. Later in the afternoon when he had almost reached the middle he suddenly heard a strange noise. To his amazement he saw a team of horses pulling a sleigh full of pig iron several hundred yards away crossing to the settlement. With that, realising just how strong the ice must really be, fear left him and he got up and walked the rest of the way. How foolish he felt not to have trusted!

Every time I watch "Ice Road Truckers" on TV I am reminded of this amusing incident. As we know, the ice is actually so thick and strong huge lorries can carry tons of supplies across these vast frozen lakes.

There is a spiritual lesson to be learnt from this regarding how we ought to trust God. Scripture teaches that just as God is infinitely Holy and Loving, He is also infinitely Faithful and reliable. Faithfulness is part of His very nature and character just as much as Holiness and Love. It is literally impossible for God to be unfaithful.

The faithfulness of Almighty God is a subject constantly mentioned in Scripture. There is hardly a Chapter which doesn't allude to it in some way and there are numerous verses which specifically mention it such as; 2nd Thessalonians Ch3v3 "The Lord is Faithful", Lamentations Ch3v23 "Great is Thy faithfulness…therefore I hope in Him", 1st Corinthians Ch1 v9 "God is faithful", 1st Thessalonians Ch 5v24 "He Who calls you is faithful, Who will also do as promised" and Psalm 36v5 "Your faithfulness reaches to the clouds".

God is faithful! Yet how often are we are like that stranger who doubted the strength of the ice? We harbour doubts as to whether God is strong enough to help us or reliable enough to remember us. We fail to trust His character and fail to trust His promises. We walk through our Christian life fearful, waiting for the ice to crack in stead of being bold and courageous, trusting that, no matter what problems lie ahead in life, we will have both His Presence and His Support. In Hebrews Ch13vs5-6 God promises "I will never leave you nor forsake you, so we may boldly say ‘the Lord is my Helper, I will not fear'", and in Deuteronomy Ch33 v 27 it adds "The Eternal God is our refuge and underneath are His everlasting arms." How reassuring and comforting are these promises.

Trusting God's faithfulness to fulfil His promises is truly "life changing". Some years ago a missionary was teaching a Hindu woman the Lord's Prayer. When he got to the end of the first clause, "Our Father Who art in Heaven" the new convert stopped him and said "If God is our Father, then that is enough. There is nothing now to fear." Provided we truly trust the Lord and are obeying His will, we can indeed be sure that He will accompany us and strengthen us to meet whatever life throws at us. "There is nothing now to fear". His promises will never "crack " under pressure no matter how great the load.

These promises also made all the difference to a young trainee missionary. Near the end of his training he admitted to a friend how fearful he was of going to Africa for his first posting. The friend thought for a moment and then cleverly asked "Tell me, if you were going to be accompanied by David Livingstone would you still be frightened?" The trainee replied, "Not with company like that!" His friend then gently added "Well cheer up, you are going with Someone far better, Jesus Himself, because He has given His word that He will never leave us nor forsake us."  Whatever we face in life; divorce, loneliness, financial troubles, health issues, bereavement or death, we are truly not alone. We are accompanied by the Saviour Himself Who will never leave our side and Who will continually uphold us with His everlasting arms.

An old mariners chart of the east coast of America dated 1525 has some interesting directions on it. Over parts of unexplored land and sea is written "Here be giants", "Here be dragons!" In time the chart came into the possession of Sir John Franklin. He scratched out the fearful statements and wrote in their place "Here be God"! So likewise, a Christian may not know what the future holds for him, but one thing is certain "There be God"!

Over the years countless books have been compiled which document examples of God's Presence and Help in the lives of His followers. Every true Christian will have their own personal real life experiences of God and so the following examples are by no means strange or unique.
John Brentz, a friend of Martin Luther experienced an example of Divine Intervention which saved his life. John played a vital leadership role in the Church during the time of the Reformation. During his stand for the faith he incurred the hatred of Charles 5th who sent a detachment of troops to kill him. Hearing that the troops were almost upon him, John earnestly prayed to God for guidance and help. At once guidance came. In his spirit he heard God say "Take a loaf of bread and go to the upper town. There you will find an open door, enter and hide under the roof."

John acted accordingly. He found the only open door and hid himself in the loft. For 14 days he lay there while the search continued. Moreover, on each of those 14 days a hen came up to the loft and laid an egg. On the 15th day the hen failed to return and he heard voices in the street outside showing that the soldiers had gone.

Divine intervention was also recorded by Admiral Sir Thomas Williams. Sir Thomas was in command of a ship whose course brought him in sight of Ascension Island, which at that time was uninhabited. Although the island was barely visible on the horizon Sir Thomas was suddenly seized by an unaccountable desire to steer towards it. He gave orders to his lieutenant to "put about ship" and steer for the island. The officer respectfully remonstrated that changing course would cause great delay to their expedition but Sir Thomas insisted.

All eyes were fixed upon the island the closer they got. Suddenly the lookout spotted a flag on the shore. When they landed they discovered 16 men had been shipwrecked on the island many days before. Some of these men had been earnestly praying to God for His deliverance and this was the result.

These two examples show God intervening to save life in answer to prayer, but God also changes lives. The Lord has promised that He will be found by those who diligently seek Him. In Deuteronomy Ch 4v29 it states "You will find Him if you seek for Him with all your heart and with all your soul", in Jeremiah Ch29v13 it adds "You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart", and in Proverbs Ch8v17 it says "Those who seek Me diligently will find Me." God is faithful and the following two accounts show how He is indeed found by those who sincerely seek Him.

Wing-Commander Edward Howell was stationed in Crete when the Germans overran the island during the Second World War. Howell was badly wounded and taken prisoner. Although he spent months in prison hospital he began to perceive that the real prison wasn't the stone wall around him but was the prison of his heart. With plenty of time to ponder, he began to reflect on the deep issues of life. "What if there is a God?" he thought. "What if this God could set me free from being my own prisoner?" The following are his own words;

"I decided to try. As I lay there in the darkness and despair of my prison cell, far from home, I gave myself and all I have to God-for better or for worse, for richer or for poorer, in sickness and in health, for ever. I entrusted Him with my life, my possessions, my career and my family and my friends. I committed myself to choose what was right to do and to be, from then on in so far as I could honestly see it.

At that moment of decision, God spoke to me. It was as though by that simple act of will, I had switched on a light in a dark room. I saw the meaning of things for the first time. With an intense thrill, my mind told me, ‘God is love'. I began to see what that meant for me. My heart filled and overflowed. This was home at last, where you loved and were loved beyond all knowing. Nothing could ever separate me from it, so long as I chose to stay there. I was free at last, and no walls or sentries could take my freedom from me, so long as I chose to be free. I found myself praying, a thing I had not done for ten years or more…I was ecstatically happy and tears of joy flowed down my face…I was sure and secure in the belief that now I knew the secret of living."

The experience of God related by Congress-woman Park is equally moving. This lady was a member of Congress when the communist North Koreans attacked Seoul. She was captured and after being questioned she was informed that she would be shot the next morning. In the meantime she was placed in a basement cell.

The next day a young soldier of about twenty took her at gun-point through the streets to where she was to be executed. These are her words; "My eyes filled with tears as I began to remember all the major events of my life…I wondered if Jesus would forgive me and save me right then? With all the resolve I could muster I said ‘Jesus, I am going to die in a few minutes. I have been a sinful woman. I don't deserve it, but please forgive this old woman her sins and save me like You did the thief on the cross.'" Then she added "Suddenly I felt a joy fill my inner heart…I was forgiven, I was free, I was ready to die."

Despite her incredible circumstances, she began to sing aloud an old hymn she remembered from her Sunday School days. This was more than the young soldier could cope with. "Shut up old woman" he shouted. "Why should I obey you now?" she asked. "I am about to die anyway. I am now a Christian and I will take my last few minutes left on this earth to praise my Lord and Saviour." She continued singing.

Finally they came to a flat area in the city. The soldier took out a shovel and began to dig her grave. As he dug she continued to sing. When he had finished the grave he blindfolded her.

He asked her "Old woman, do you have any last words you want to say?" "Yes I have," she said, "As we walked up here you must have noticed that something has happened to me. I awoke this morning full of fear. Now I have peace and joy. You see, now I am saved. I only wish that you too could know this wonderful Saviour Jesus Christ. May I spend the last moments of my life praying for your soul?"
She then felt her way down into the hole that was to be her grave. She knelt and prayed. After a few minutes she could hear the young man crying. "You may shoot me now. I have finished praying," she said calmly. But the young soldier told her he had just had a vision and he could not shoot her. He got down into the grave and released her. He then told her to run into the hills for safety.

The Lord is faithful! In Acts Ch17v28 it promises "He is not far from each one of us, for in Him we live and move and have our being". The Lord is present and waiting to be found by anyone who truly seeks Him. The choice is ours. Now is the Day of Salvation. Now is the accepted time. "Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; Let him return to the Lord and he will have mercy upon him; and to our God for he will abundantly pardon." (Isaiah Ch55vs6-7).