“But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty.” (2 Timothy 3:1 ESV).
Growing up, my beloved grandfather, “Pop-Pop,” was a larger-than-life hero. He would teach me survival skills, go on wild adventures into the woods and take me sailing. There was really no telling where we would end up, especially in his small sailboat. He retired from the Navy after a brief tour in South Korea and always loved being around the water.
Pop-Pop did not pay much notice to weather patterns, private property posts and signs of danger. I remember one specific outing. It was a bright sunny day, not a cloud in the sky. We climbed into our water chariot for another journey. All was going well, until a big cloud came to rain on our “parade.” If you know how weather works, a strong wind usually comes right before the storm. Although I enjoy watching a storm, being in the middle of a lake experiencing it first hand, is not my preference. Right as the winds began to blow, and push us closer to the rocks, I remember him saying, “Hold Fast!”
That memory will always be etched in my mind. We did not sink. We eventually made it safely to shore, completely drenched and exhausted. But what stood out to me was my grandfather’s determination that we would together fight the storm, win and make it back safely.
I did not fully understand the significance of the words, “hold fast,” until many years later when the movie “Master and Commander” with Russell Crowe came out. One of the sailors had that very phrase tattooed on his fingers. In a very tense and dramatic part of the movie the crew of this ship is in the midst of a battle against another ship, and the camera zooms in to highlight the tattoo.
The phrase so intrigued me that I looked it up. In the maritime tradition, it means securing the ropes and rigging on the ship. Without those items being squared away, the safety of the boat and crew is in peril. It also signifies commitment to teamwork and ensuring that the ship is first cared for, and by doing that, your fellow sailors will be safe. Each person has a duty to perform and with all hands on deck working together towards a common goal, they will reach their destination, no matter the challenges that arise.
This brings us back to our opening verse, “…in the last days there will come times of difficulty…” As we look all around the world, or even in our backyard, it seems things have gone out of control. You can see this verse literally come alive. If you are feeling trapped in your home, in a difficult economic situation, or just losing hope that life will ever return to normal, hold fast to His promises. Though we were warned about these days it’s still easy to take our eyes off our ultimate destination.
As we navigate these uncharted waters and weather these storms, remember that we are never alone. “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isaiah 41:10). God has us in the palm of his hand and with this knowledge we can keep our focus on Him and on the lives of our fellow “sailors,” remembering we are in this together.
By Nathan Wilbur at wilburministries.com