Here in Florida, we have just lived through the onslaught of Hurricane Ian. Since my bride and I made the move here almost seven years ago, this is the second hurricane we have lived through, Irma being the first. For me to say it is “an interesting experience” to live through a hurricane is quite an understatement. And for many, it is not even the slightest bit funny, or interesting, to say the least. The devastation has been tremendous. The loss of life is tragic. And the loss of property is monumental.
Here in our area of the state, we were fortunate to miss the main course of the storm by about 30 or 40 miles. The destruction which Ian wrought is in the many millions of dollars, and many of the affected people’s lives may never be quite restored to what they were prior to Ian’s arrival.
The local news broadcasts in our area have been filled with personal interest stories about people attempting to clean up after the storm. Piles of rubble, automobiles destroyed by the floods and winds, and if homes aren’t completely destroyed, people are trying to do what they can to set things right.
One such individual was combing through the trash diligently looking for something when a reporter caught up with him. “What are you looking for?” asked the reporter. “Anything, anything I can use to begin to set things back the way they were. Everything is broken. I can’t even find a straight edge. If it isn’t broken, it’s bent or crooked!”
In the wake of Hurricane Ian, that man’s world was totally dismantled.
If I may, may I ask you a question? Is your world totally dismantled? You may not have lived through a hurricane but are things in your life broken, bent or crooked? These days, that seems to be the majority opinion of the people with whom I come in contact, either personally, or vicariously through the media. But then when I ask the follow-up question — What are you doing about it? — I tend to get blank stares, or the political pundits always blame the other party or bring forth “experts” who do not seem to know any more about how to get through the mess we are in than anybody else.
May I suggest a different method of dealing with the storms of life and the devastation they leave in their wake?
The story is told of a particular young man who was doing some odd construction jobs around his home. His grandfather was helping him with his projects and was sitting in the younger man’s workshop in his basement one day when the young fellow came in and was looking for a yardstick or a ruler. His grandfather handed him one he had brought with him to the project that day. The young man picked up the grandfather’s ruler, took one look at it, and asked him if he had another one. “Why? What’s wrong with that one?” asked Grandpa.
“Look at it,” said his grandson, holding up the measuring stick. “It’s crooked and warped. You can’t measure the length of anything with this ruler!”
“Exactly” replied his grandfather. “And son, that’s exactly the way you are trying to live your life when you use any guide other than the Bible. You are trying to measure your life by a crooked ruler!”
In 2 Timothy, the Apostle Paul made mention of the fact that “all Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right. God uses it to prepare and equip his people to do every good work.” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). The question for each of us is, when was the last time that we really looked at the Bible as being useful? For the most part, we look at the Bible as a nice book, but it really does not have too much to say about living our lives in a practical way.
Some years ago, a man in our church made that affirmation to me. He told me point blank, “What happens on Sunday is something that I value and appreciate, preacher. Then, you have a right and a responsibility to speak to what is going on in my life. But what happens on Monday or Tuesday or any other day of the week, for that matter, is ‘nunya’ (short for ‘none of your business’)!” For that man, the Bible was nice, but not necessary at all. By the way, his life showed it.
A true Christ-follower in the real world will be one who is doing his absolute best to live his life in obedience and accord with the principles laid out in the Bible for living. He may not be able to avoid the devastating storms of life, but he will be able to go through them with a positive sense of confidence that God is at work in them and through them.
God’s Word, the Bible, is a message of love, of how much God loved you and me and sent His Son Jesus to demonstrate that love towards us. It is also an authoritative and absolute statement of what God expects from each of us and how we should then live in light of His great love for us.
What that means for each of us is that we must take the time, we must make the time, to read the Bible for ourselves. An open Bible, one that is read regularly, is the only way that you and I can ever expect to survive the “hurricanes” of life that so easily and often beset us.
So what about you? Are you coping with the storms of life with an open Bible in hand, or is your ruler a crooked one?
Chuck Tabor is a religion columnist for The Times-Gazette and a former Hillsboro area pastor who now resides in Florida. He can be reached at [email protected]