Ever feel confused about what to do in life? Ever not know what direction to turn? Have you ever come to the point in your life where you felt like the world was against you and you didn’t know what to do?
Well, let me tell you, you haven’t got anything on Chippie.
I was re-reading Max Lucado’s book, “In The Eye of the Storm”, the other day. In the book, Max Lucado describes the exceptional difficulties in the life of a small pet bird named Chippie: “Chippie the parakeet never saw it coming. One second he was peacefully perched in his cage. The next he was sucked in, washed up, and blown over. The problems began when Chippie’s owner decided to clean Chippie’s cage with a vacuum cleaner. She removed the attachment from the end of the hose and stuck it in the cage. The phone rang, and she turned to pick it up. She’d barely said “hello” when sssopp! Chippie got sucked in. The bird owner gasped, put down the phone, turned off the vacuum, and opened the bag. There was Chippie—still alive, but stunned. Since the bird was covered with dust and soot, she grabbed him and raced to the bathroom, turned on the faucet, and held Chippie under the running water. Then realizing that Chippie was soaked and shivering, she did what any compassionate bird owner would do… she reached for the hair dryer and blasted the pet with hot air. Poor Chippie never knew what hit him… A few days after the trauma, the reporter who’d initially written about the event contacted Chippie’s owner to see how the bird was recovering. ‘Well,’ she replied, ‘Chippie doesn’t sing much anymore — he just sits and stares.” (Max Lucado, “In The Eye of the Storm”: Word, 1991; p.11.)
Many of us feel like Chippie at times. Life is a challenge, and we don’t know what to do next, so we just sit and stare. Or perhaps we frenetically busy ourselves without having any specific direction.
In either case, we are at a loss when it comes to knowing what to do. The situation is complicated when, in addition to recovering from past traumas, we are facing future uncertainties.
I once read about a man who found himself in a situation like Chippie’s. He came home from work one day only to be informed by his teenage daughter that she was pregnant. He had just sold his home and had a great deal of difficulty in finding a new one.
Once he did move in, he discovered that the roof leaked and the plumbing needed major repairs. His wife got sued, and he was told tat his father-in-law had cancer. That man was asking himself the same question that Chippie would ask could he talk: “What do I do next?”
In the Scriptures, we have the answer to that question found in Psalm 27. David was facing the giant Goliath and seemed to be in an impossible situation. Yet he came away from that situation by saying, “The Lord is my strength and my salvation – whom shall I fear?” (v.1). When tough times come into our lives, we need to turn to the only One who can see us through them.
We see the same thing in the New Testament as well. In Mark’s Gospel we read of Jesus and his disciples in a boat on the Sea of Galilee in the middle of a gigantic storm. The boat is in the water…. And the water is in the boat! The twelve disciples – at least six of whom had been professional fisherman on that very lake all their lives – were at a loss as to what to do.
They were all going down in a big way! Jesus, typically, was perfectly at peace in the situation, quite comfortable in the back of the boat asleep. And after he was awakened by the terrified twelve, and calmed the wind and the sea with one quit, “Peace, be still”, he challenged their faith, and simply wondered where it was.
He was challenging them to turn to him and believe that he indeed could help them.
Now this is not just positive thinking. Throughout the whole of Scriptures we see men and women who were facing impossible situations, and when they relied upon the Lord for their solutions, the Lord saw them through the problems, but when they relied on their own initiative and strength, or gave up and just did nothing, they floundered.
The Lord indeed IS our Rock and our Deliverer!
You know, when it comes right down to it, the choice is ours. Whenever we face times of confusion or doubt, times when life seems to take a strong turn and leave us in a land called “who knows where”, we can do just like Chippie — just sit there and stare … not saying or responding to much of anything, or we can turn in faith to the Lord, who is our Rock, our Deliverer, the One who will not let the boat sink and who will calm the storms of our life.
I wonder: Which will it be for you?
Chuck Tabor is a regular columnist for the News Journal and a former pastor in the area. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.