Our campus has been spiritually recharged this week as we welcomed and ministered to about 120 children during our annual Vacation Bible School. The theme was “Shipwrecked” and Lisa and I had the chance to do a skit during each day’s opening ceremonies. My character, “Jim Noland” explains to Lisa that a skydiving trip that went terribly wrong landed him on this deserted island. But now that he realizes that he’s not actually alone he’s euphoric. Each day Lisa teaches him about Jesus’ rescuing power in the midst of life’s difficulties. One day, there’s a loud bang and the sound of Jim yelling “Help!” as he stumbles on stage wrapped up in a fishing net, and looking ridiculous.
“Jim, what on earth happened?” Lisa asks. “Well, it’s that nosy, annoying, frustrating, crazy monkey! He keeps sneaking into my hut and stealing my food and taking my stuff! So, I thought I’d build a trap and catch him with this fishing net.” As he looks at himself wound up in his own trap, he mumbles his disappointment: “It didn’t go very well.”
Lisa helps Jim get untangled: “Uh, yeah,” Lisa says, “I can tell. It looks like you caught yourselfinstead. Let me help with some of these knots and see if we can get you unstuck. This is a mess!”
That’s when Jim falls apart: “It is a mess! Everything is a mess!” The sound of thunder and falling rain begins and it nearly drowns out Jim’s voice. He starts sobbing, feeling sorry for himself, and blowing his nose with a big leaf. It’s actually a funny moment…and I love the honesty that follows:
“I know Jesus has the power to rescue, and I trust him,” says Jim. “But living on this island is hard. Finding food is hard. Getting clean water is hard. Staying dry in these tropical rainstorms is hard. And keeping that nosy monkey away from me is hard too.”
“You’re right Jim,” Lisa says. “Life is so hard sometimes; but you know, you’d probably be saying the same things about other stuff being hard, even if you weren’ton this island! We all struggle, but when we struggle, Jesus helps us.
Jim is hesitant: “He does? Does that mean he’ll make it easierto find food or water…or that he’ll make that nosy monkey go away?”
Good Question. Once again, there’s a refreshing honesty as Lisa tells the faith-filled truth…
“Umm. No, probably not. But when we’re wrapped up in our troubles, and feel trapped, Jesus helps us deal with it, one knot at a time. Jesus listens, gives us advice through his Word, the Bible, and is a friend when we need one. Jesus sends us help and encouragement too.”
“I guess knowing that I’m not alone in a struggle does help” says Jim. “Thanks.” “Any time,” says Lisa, who then offers to help him monkey proof his tentwithout a trap! “You’re a good friend,” he says.
What Jim and our VBS children have been learning is that Jesus’ rescuing love is felt us in the midst oftrials, not just when we’ve been removed from them. Paul says that “the Spirit helps us inour weaknesses,” (Romans 8: 26) and that we should “look to the interests of others.” James writes, “Whenever you face trials of any kind, consider it nothing but joy,” because the testing of our faith produces endurance and spiritual maturity (James 1:2-4). There is something about faith that it is actually strengthenedwhen outside pressures force us to look to the centerwhere we’ve placed our faith! When we go through an earthquake, we go to the most stable part of the house and hold on. When we experience loss, we’re forced to seek the foundations for what we believe. When people try to convince us that life is a joke, we look to the One who explains the mystery of life and its purpose. I’ve discovered that Jesus is an unshakeable island in a sea of uncertainty; the One who shines brighter than our loneliness or despair and who’s victory over sin and death brings God’s salvation to a shipwrecked world. Let’s keep trusting Him and his rescuing love….in all circumstances.