A godly man said to me, ” The best marriage advice I can give after 30 years is this: No matter what love your hubby despite his defects, because you have defects too.” How true that is! We all have been hurt and upset. We are so quick to remember, toil, contemplate and nurse those hurts, yet, in the same breath we are so easily able to forget our defects – our shortcomings.
After stirring on his comment for the afternoon, I decided to actually look up the definition of the word: defect. A defect is defined as a shortcoming, a lack or imperfection. It is the lack of something necessary or desirable for completion or perfection, a deficiency.
We are all imperfect and we all have a deficiency. But here is something that can help make us complete, Jesus. Jesus is the only one who walked this Earth that was perfect and sinless. The rest of us, well, we are birthed with a sin nature, the natural tendency to do wrong and we are definitely not “perfect.” (Apologies if this is the first time you realized you are not perfect.)
I have to be honest and say that over the last few weeks, I have had an emotional struggle, a tug of war, battling between my heart and mind. I have been up and I have been down. I have allowed circumstances, situations and transitions to bring attention to my defects. Instead of allowing the Perfect One, Jesus, to reign and calm the storm in my heart, I tried to control it, steer it, define it, direct it, point it, pull it and I ended up shipwrecked on a shore. Feeling as though I split, like a boat that ran into a rock and drove the boat into the ground. Though I did not sink, I had to find remnants of the boat to help float me to shore.
I think about the story of Paul and his shipwreck in the book of Acts 27. The event begins “when a gentle south wind began to blow…” (Acts 27:13) Is that not how big things happen in our lives, right before the hurricane or earthquake occurs? The wind begins to blow… little things happen, small misunderstandings, one imperfection here and another there. Then before long, “a wind of hurricane force, a Northeaster, swept down from the island.” (Acts 27:14) Things are getting rough, the waves seem to be picking up, one situation turns out to be 3 or 4 other situations and it just seems like everything has become out of control and debris is flying, heartaches are rolling, thoughts are crashing and lightning is striking. It is a big storm and you think to yourself, “How will I ever survive?” It feels like your boat is breaking apart with each battering wind and wave.
“We took such a violent battering from the storm that the next day they began to throw the cargo overboard.” (Acts 27:18)
In an effort to keep the boat from falling apart and from sinking with you on it, you begin to dump “cargo” or things overboard. You let go of issues, preconceived ideas, relationships and lies. These things have been weighing you down and keeping you from really seeing “truth” or even your own “defects.” There is something freeing about knowing the truth and recognizing it. Jesus said it this way:
“You shall know the truth and the truth shall set you free.” John 8:32
As we throw things overboard and start tossing cargo that we have held onto and thought was precious, so valuable that we could not live with out , it can seem very dark. Those things were what we knew, what we could see, what we could feel and what we could touch; alive and tangible in our lives. Getting rid of that, while freeing, can leave a black hole or a void. Paul said it like this:
“When neither sun nor stars appeared for many days and the storm continued raging, we finally gave up all hope of being saved.” Acts 27:20
We say to ourselves,” I let go, God. I laid it down. I tossed it over board letting it sink to the depths of the sea. It felt good doing it, but now look – the storm is still raging. My emotions are still running, my thoughts are looking for something upon which to cling. I feel as though I will drown despite letting it all go. I want to give up, who can save me from this storm.” That emptiness of what we once held and identified ourselves along side, has been tossed and our inner turmoil has not found rest, “the sun and stars have not appeared for days….” (Acts 27:20)
Then a twinkle of hope falls into that dark space, one star begins to shine when we remember a word that the Lord spoke to us. A word of encouragement, part of the purpose and plan for your life comes to your mind and in that moment, you hold on and find strength to weather the storm. God used Paul during this Northeaster to be reminded that he had a place to go and that he would not die on this ship in this storm.
“Last night an angel of the God to whom I belong and whom I serve stood beside me and said, ‘Do not be afraid, Paul. You must stand trial before Caesar; and God has graciously given you the lives of all who sail with you.’ So keep up your courage, men, for I have faith in God that it will happen just as he told me. Nevertheless, we must run aground on some island.” (Acts 27:23-26)
I am not sure I like the thoughts of being “run aground”, but I do love that God uses people to remind us of that fact that HE IS IN CONTROL, HE HOLDS ALL POWER, HE REIGNS ON THE THRONE and no man will stop his plan for my life or your life to come to pass. Amen!
There is a shipwreck in Acts 27. The men do survive just as God said, the may have lost some things through the storm, they may have tossed something that they counted dear for most of their lives, but when they arrive on land, despite the shipwreck, they will be less weighted down and lighter on their feet for having survived this storm. Sometimes it takes a storm, actually it can take a collision of three storms like a Northeaster, to wake us up, shake us out and free us from cargo that holds us back and weighs us down. We think the storm might take our life, we do not know when the sun will come out and the stars will twinkle, but if we just hold on, listen for God’s voice, look for his reminders, and remember that he is in control of the storm, we will survive and be strengthened.
“Once safely on shore, we found out that the island was called Malta. The islanders showed us unusual kindness. They built a fire and welcomed us all because it was raining and cold.” (Acts 28:1-2)
Let us not forget that when a storm of hurricane force comes into our lives, that in the center of a hurricane there is an eye and God is right there in the middle of it. He has not abandoned you, he has not left you, he does not wish to see you perish – his desire to to see you fulfill the purpose and plan that he created specifically for you to carry out. Remember you are not alone, God is right there with you through it all.
“As I was with Moses, so I will be with you; I will never leave you nor forsake you.” Joshua 1:5