WHEN SEA BILLOWS ROLL
by CHARLES ROBEY
(MOODY AL USA)
Being now older than dirt and twice as gritty, and having lived through several decades, I have seen it all, so to speak. I've seen life as the old expression goes, “Like the sea billows roll.” Yes, life, and sorrow in particular, does seem to roll like the turbulent sea.
Remember that “Good Ole Gospel Ship” gospel lyric from days gone by. If not, please have your Papaw bring it up and sing along. So, I ask you, has that gospel ship sunk? Maybe with some folks, but not with me.
In today’s progressive distracted culture, it is so easy to get sidetracked from the providential, calming faith-based seas, into today’s progressive rolling sea billows to that of today’s socialist beaten path. Not for me, however. Just put me in that Old Time Religion gospel boat, give me the faith-laden paddle and let me row to a faith-based victory, rolling over those disturbing sea billows.
I do not mind telling you that there was a time when I questioned the basis of the apostle Paul’s Holy Spirit-inspired writing, "For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind” (II Timothy 1-7) , as I moved across the rough sea of questions and doubt.
Then another of Paul’s writings moved me along the river of faith. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-7)
For some unknown reason to me, this second inspired Scripture passage overruled the first one in my heart. Had I succumbed to the waves of fear? Had I let those waves of fear overcome and control my anxiety, unbeknown to me? Did I need a good dose of Old Time Religion faith? Yes, indeed.
I realize too, that at times I tend to be somewhat uneasy of mind or filled with brooding fear with respect to living in today’s cultural sea waves. This causes me to be a little anxious within my spiritual anticipations, However, again praise be to God and His Scripture! “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:6-8).
After much prayer and supplication, my conclusion was that the peace of God will always wash away those turbulent, billowing waves of fear in my life. But the peace of God will pass through all those perceived doubtful waves of hardships. God, the eternal living Captain of the ship, will supply all my needs according to His riches of glory. (Philippians 4:19)
Oh, I know today’s progressive seafaring world culture seems to have turned the waves of life upside down. As America’s favorite retired newscaster, Walter Cronkite put it upon entering retirement from public life, “And that’s the way it is.”
Is that really the way it is? Seafaring storms can and do change course, often from good to bad, or bad to good. With our seafaring Captain God, it’s always from bad to good. It is the gospel, and the results of the gospel alone that always brings good news. “In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.” (Colossians 1:6)
As Christians, we may feel as if the sea billows are rolling over our troubled sea, drowning our faith. Perhaps we suffer illness, pain of the loss of a loved one, or a pandemic lockdown adds loneliness to our days when friends and family cannot visit. Perhaps it is the nightly news with its messages of hatred and divisiveness that stir a sense of anger and frustration.
I am not alone, you are not alone, as this article suggests. Even our Lord had storms to deal with. Jesus and His disciples got into a boat to travel across a huge lake. They had been ministering to crowds of people all day, so Jesus was very tired. A furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, “Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?” He got up, rebuked the wind, and said to the waves, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind and waves immediately quieted into a vast calm. (Mark 4:37-39)
So, have life’s sea billows and uncertainties gotten you down? Well then, you need to pull down that old hymnal off the shelf and prayerfully begin singing that old hymn of faith and assurance. Amen!
“When peace like a river attended my way.
When sorrows like sea billows roll
Whatever my lot, thou have taught me to say.
It is well, it is well, with my soul.”
As I alluded to before, I have had my ups and downs. I have fought those nasty swelling sea billows. I have had my doubts and my assurances of life’s oceans, some being calm, others not so calm.
Dr. David Jeremiah puts it in the introduction of his newest bestselling book, The World of the End, (which I highly recommend reading), “Our world is in bad shape, and sometimes we feel that way too, don’t we? In our better moments we know we are encompassed by God’s blessings, yet we seem to struggle with anxiety, fear, resentment, and discouragement. The chaos of the world seeps into our hearts. Fear can erode faith if we let it.”
Nonetheless, the sea of life has always had its ups and downs. There’s always the lifeboat of faith-based hope. It is the billows of the Gospel, Salvation and Redemption that need to carry our boat along. We must not ever let the fears of today’s storms and prevailing sea billows sink our faith-based ship.
(Isaiah 40:28-29) “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth. He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom. He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. (Please read full chapters of Isaiah 39 and Isaiah 41)
Goodbye and good faith-based luck, my good friend. Simply take those water skis of faith and skim over those sea billows of doubt. “Let him ask in faith without doubting. For the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind.” (James 1:6)