With the coming of the new month just a couple of weeks ago, the official line on Florida weather is that we are no longer in “hurricane season.”
Since we joined the Florida crowd, we have discovered that for about six months every year, every time there is a tropical storm that arises out in the ocean anywhere, we are put on the alert that that storm may become a hurricane of such destructive force that not only property but also human life is threatened. It has become somewhat amusing to watch people who are native to this area treat these storms so nonchalantly.
When Hurricane Irma came through a few years ago, a local news reporter interviewed a fellow who lives (lived?) in a houseboat moored in a marina on the coast. During the storm, his “home” was literally lifted out of the water and left in a pile of rubble about half a mile from the marina where it was originally moored. There was no resemblance to a houseboat of any kind in the debris that was left there.
The reporter was amazed when she asked him what he was planning to do now that his home had been destroyed. The fellow shrugged his shoulders and proclaimed matter-of-factly that he would either “rebuild or find another boat to live on.”
She pursued that with a question about what he had lost in the storm. He was one who had not evacuated during the storm in spite of all the warnings to do so, but had indeed retreated to a public shelter when things got really bad.
That fellow – I admire him in a way – simply declared that he had survived and that everything he lost in the storm was “just stuff!”
This whole conversation provoked some serious thinking about what is important enough to take with you when you have to evacuate.
What things in life which, if lost in a hurricane, would cause the most difficulty, both physically and emotionally to replace?
If I were to compose a list of those things to make sure I take with me if I need to evacuate, it would be a fairly short one, including important papers such as deeds, titles, birth certificates, wills, investment papers and the like, as well as the pictures, the pictorial records of memories of vacations and graduations and weddings and kids and all.
All the other “stuff” can be replaced!
Just thinking about this has caused me to consider what the Bible has to say about what I absolutely cannot do without.
One of the most important things that you and I cannot do without is found in Hebrews 9:22: “…without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.” In other words, you and I cannot do without this thing called forgiveness.
Some years ago there was a man who would go out and stand on a corner in Chicago’s Loop every day at noontime. He would stand there in a trance-like stare and choose one of the many passers-by during the Chicago lunch hour, staring at them with an intense glare.
As they drew nearer to him, he would lift his arm, point his finger at the individual and shout at the top of his lungs, “GUILTY!” Immediately he would then choose another individual and do the same thing with them. Some of the responses were rather surprising. Some mocked him, as expected.
Others tried to avoid his stare, and attempted to ignore him. And one passer-by was even overheard to say, “How did he know?”
The fact is we all are guilty! And our greatest need this side of heaven is forgiveness.
The Bible tells us that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Check out Romans 3:23). We cannot achieve on our own the requirements that God lays down for us to get into heaven. Contrary to popular opinion, not everyone will be going there.
And the one requirement for our getting there is forgiveness for our sins – the very thing that keeps us out of a perfect heaven! But in Christ we have Someone who paid that price, by dying on the cross for our sins. He shed His own blood for you and for me, thereby providing the very means for our gaining forgiveness – the one thing that we need before we exit this world.
In Romans 5:8, we read that “…God demonstrated His own love toward us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us!”
He paid the price that you and I could never pay! And He did it all so that all who will put their trust in Him alone will gain that very thing we cannot do without – forgiveness!
“Now, how many of you would like to go to heaven?” asked the Sunday school teacher. All the eager four-year-olds raised their hands except Tommy.
When asked why he didn’t raise his hand Tommy replied, “I’m sorry, I can’t. My mother told me to come right home after Sunday school!”
No matter where you are in life, what can YOU not do without? Whether you are thinking about passing over eternity’s threshold in the near future, or you are not planning to go for a while, the issue is simple: Are you forgiven?
If you are not trusting in Jesus Christ, if you are counting on anything or anyone else other than Him and Him alone to get you there, you will be like every one of those people in Chicago that day. You will stand before God and will say, “But how did you know?”
God has provided the most essential thing for you to get into heaven – forgiveness. All He asks of you is that you place your trust in His Son Jesus Christ alone. Then you are forgiven!
There is an old bumper sticker that really says it all – “Christians are not perfect – they are forgiven!”
In Christ, you can be too!
God bless …
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.