Many people are paralyzed by prospects. That is, they live in fear of "What if?" "What if this happens? What if that happens? What if this and that happens?"
For born again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Bible definitively provides our response to any and every prospect of peril.
"God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble" (Psalm 46:1).
"When thou passest through the waters, I will be with thee; and through the rivers, they shall not overflow thee: when thou walkest through the fire, thou shalt not be burned; neither shall the flame kindle upon thee" (Isaiah 43:2).
"A very present help… I will be with thee." The prospect of His presence - this is the answer to the "What if?" questions of life. Trouble will come to all of us (although often in different ways than we anticipate). We will pass through the waters and the rivers. We will walk through the fire. However, our primary prospect assures us of the loving and involved presence of God in all things. We must therefore prepare our hearts in the light of truth and reality. When "What if?" threatens, we answer with "Who!" We answer with Him. Indeed, nothing will ever approach the threshold of the Christian, batter on the door of lives, and even break it down without the Lord Jesus Christ being the One waiting to greet whatever foe or challenge tempts us to fear.
The little boy could not believe his ears when one evening, his father announced, "Tomorrow, son, it's time for you to go into the deep, dark woods!"
The boy could not believe what he heard. Many times, he had watched his father venture into the vast stand of trees that surrounded the family property. One of the things he loved and admired most about his dad was the man's seeming fearlessness concerning the dangers that might lie in the woods.
"Uh, Dad, did you say you think I should go into the deep, dark woods?" The boy gulped as he replied, barely looking at his father because he so feared that he might have correctly heard his dad's words.
The man replied without hesitation, even smiling as he spoke. "Yes, son, tomorrow's the day. I have no doubt that you're ready, and I'll wake you up at the crack of dawn for a good breakfast, and then… and then a journey into the forest! Your first journey!
The boy slept little through a long, restless night. When he did, nightmares of what might lie in the forest startled him to wakefulness. How could it be that his dad thought he was ready for the deep, dark woods?! What might really lie in their fearful depths? What was his father thinking?!
Just before sunup, the boy heard a knock on his bedroom door. His father's voice followed. "Son, are you awake? It's time. Today's the day! It's time for you to go into the deep dark woods!" Once again, the little boy heard sheer excitement in his dad's voice. He hesitated, but then responded, "Yes, Dad, I'm awake." The excited voice sounded once again through the door. "Great son, get your clothes on and come to the kitchen. I'm making a big breakfast for you so you'll be ready for your big day!"
The little boy arose and began to get dressed. He thought about his father. First, he remembered again the courage and bravery of his dad. But then, he even more thought of how much his father loved him. He knew this was true! His dad showed him every day! The thought came to mind, "If Dad thinks I'm ready, well…. I know I can trust him!"
The boy ate little of the breakfast his father had prepared as the sun rose on what would be a fateful day. "Not hungry, son?" asked the father. The boy looked at his dad, still feeling uncertain about things ahead, but also trusting the man even more as he looked into his eyes. "No sir, not really" said the boy, speaking barely above a whisper. "I guess I'm just thinking about the trip into the deep, dar… The boy cut his sentence short, not even wanting to say the words.
"Ok son, get your backpack" the dad said with a smile, and I'll meet you out by the poplars," referring to the stand of hardwoods where an opening allowed entrance into the forest.
When the boy arrived at the spot, his dad was not yet there. This gave him time to consider the vast and seemingly innumerable trees. They were beautiful, no doubt, especially as the rays of the rising sun shone through the branches and leaves. He had loved to gaze upon the forest for as long as he could remember - from a safe distance - and he often lingered as he watched his dad disappear into the forest for his trips. How brave was his father! And how much the little boy felt he was not like him! A sense of shame coupled with the fear churning inside. Tears formed in his eyes just as he heard his father's footsteps approaching. He gulped hard, and again thought to himself, "I can trust my dad!"
The man reached his son, and put his arm around the boy's shoulder. "All right, son, are you ready?" The boy quickly wiped a tear and looked up at his father. "Yes, Dad, I think so. I think I'm ready."
The father replied, "Me too, son. I've been waiting for this moment since the day your were born! There are so many things in these deep, dark woods I want to show you. So let's get going!"
The boy's father set out toward the opening in the poplars. His son, however, stood still, frozen in his tracks by the words he had just heard. He could barely speak, but as best he could, the boy called out to his father. "Dad… Dad, are you going with me?"
The father stopped and turned to face his son. He smiled and reached out for the boy in a motion that invited him to come and join him. "Of course I'm going with you, son! You're not yet ready for a journey into the deep, dark woods by yourself. Someday you will be, but this is not that day. No, not yet. Oh yes, I'm going with you into the deep, dark woods. We're going together, and I'm going to show you things I could never describe to you with words. It will be wonderful, and like I said, I've been waiting for this moment since the day you were born!" The man looked into his son's eyes. "Son, are you ready?"
The little boy was ready. He was more ready to journey into the deep, dark woods than anything he had ever pondered doing. His dad was going with him! His brave, strong father would accompany him every step of the way. Now the prospect of the vast forest portended not of fear and uncertainty. It rather promised the wonder of discovery and awe. "Yes, I'm ready, Dad" the boy almost shouted. "I'm ready to go into the deep, dark woods!"
Whence we go, we go not alone. Our Heavenly Father journeys with us, whether we venture unto shining summits where vistas of beauty await our awed eyes, or into deep, dark woods that threaten with seeming peril. Whence we go, we go alone. "I am with you always" promised the Lord Jesus, "I will never leave thee nor forsake thee" (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5). In Christ, God gives to us Himself. He is our prospect. Thus, we can face anything and everything with the assurance that the Lord Jesus will be everything we need Him to be in every moment, in every contingency, in every venue. Always with us, never to leave us - this is the promise of He who cannot lie. "Are you ready?" He asks. Let us respond, "Oh yes, Father, I am ready!"
"The Lord of hosts is with us. The God of Jacob is our refuge."
Weekly Memory Verse
"Without Me ye can do nothing."