Dr. Dan Hayden •
In the aftermath of ideological change and financial crisis, it may seem that nothing is reliable anymore. What we can count on for sure, is that not much is for sure.
The nations of the world are now scrambling to find a reliable footing in the economic upheaval. Many Americans are wondering if the national bus, after making a radical turn to the left, is about to plummet over the edge of a cliff. Our spinning globe is beginning to wobble irrationally as nations rage, people imagine vain things (Psalm 2:1 – KJV) and Islamic terrorists continue to spread their infernal brand of mayhem for change. It’s all rather disturbing—even scary—unless of course, you understand the principle of spiritual ballast.
I enjoy boating if the water is calm. Yet, the least little bit of wind can churn the water and rock the boat. This is why I don’t like cruises—rock and roll makes me sick. I’ve been on many cruises as an inspirational speaker and unfortunately, even with the patch, pills, or a bracelet, nausea has a way of smothering the joy. I simply yearn for the next port of call.
In the process though, I’ve learned a little bit about a ship’s stability in choppy waters. From small sailing craft to towering cruise liners, boats need ballast to keep their balance in turbulent conditions. On lighter craft a well-constructed keel can provide enough counter-balancing force to keep the boat vertical; but in larger vessels (like cruise ships) adding water ballast below the vertical center of gravity increases stability.
Large ballast tanks are positioned low in the hull to either take on or discharge huge amounts of water, depending on the ship’s need for greater or lesser buoyancy and balance. Without the presence of ballast weight, ships are at the mercy of the wind and waves. With sufficient ballast, however, rock and roll is minimized and the danger of capsizing is greatly reduced.
As you are well aware, turbulent times are currently upon us. Life is topsy-turvy and many people are experiencing an emotional nausea as their vessel tosses to and fro. So, what we need is spiritual ballast to keep us level—to buoy us up and to give us a sense of stability as we sail through choppy waters.
Consider Mary and Joseph as they began the arduous journey of displacement from Nazareth to the little village of Bethlehem for the purpose of fulfilling another Roman tax. Life was hard and resources were scarce. Coming full term with her pregnancy, Mary felt every jostling motion as she descended out of the lower hills of Galilee, not realizing that she would have to birth her child in an animal shelter in a far away town. Several years would pass before they returned home—but not before government harassment and brutality would send them fleeing to Egypt for their lives. The comfort of an easy life was not even a dream. Coping with reality was just the way things were.
So, what kept Mary and Joseph going—what gave them hope? The obvious answer is spiritual ballast. They had a promise of things to come and they experienced a Person who made all the difference in the world. A promise and a person—spiritual ballast for buoyancy and stability in troubling times.
Mary and Joseph knew that God had spoken unto the fathers by the prophets, giving them assurance that He was a faithful Creator who would indeed fulfill His promise of redeeming mankind and restoring peace and tranquility to planet earth. As simple folks, believing this fundamental truth was their lifeline to survival.
Hard times, uncomfortable circumstances, more taxes, corrupt government, and self-serving religion—all were a part of everyday life for them. Evil men and seducers were becoming worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived—while all that lived godly were suffering persecution (2 Timothy 3:12-13). Oy Vey! So, what’s new?
While living a privileged life in America, perhaps some of us have drifted into the idea that the Kingdom already came. Well, not exactly! But, one day it will come. God made a promise and we just need to be patient. Oh, Antichrist is yet to appear, and Armageddon will certainly happen – but that’s all part of the deal. Mary and Joseph suffered, and undoubtedly we will, too. Yet, tenacious faith in God’s final solution puts suffering – even martyrdom – into perspective. It’s okay.
Remember, it’s not over till it’s over. We have the sure promise of God that as believers in Christ, we win! A friend of mine once said, “If all of this societal pollution is what it will take for Christ to return and the Kingdom to begin—let’s get it on!” That’s spiritual ballast.
Before leaving Nazareth, both Mary and Joseph had been told by the angel Gabriel that the Son of God, the long-awaited Messiah, was now in Mary’s womb. Regardless of their difficult circumstances and whatever happened, they were a privileged couple to have the presence of Jesus wherever they went.
Soon Jesus was wrapped in swaddling clothes, snuggled in Mary’s arms, beneath Joseph’s adoring eyes. Their humble environment didn’t matter. Even mundane things glowed with the touch of divine significance. Cows and sheep joined them in worship as God’s magic wand turned pumpkins into coaches and mice into mighty steeds. In the company of Jesus, nothing was common.
As a child in Egypt, Jesus wiped His parents’ tears of grief upon hearing of the massacre of little children in Bethlehem. Later, as a young boy in Nazareth, He graced their lives with joy amidst having to cope with the roughness of that infamous town. Mary could lean on His strong arms when Joseph died leaving her a widow, and never would she want for the necessities of life. Jesus was Mary and Joseph’s spiritual ballast.
So, let me ask you, do you just go to church or do you walk with Jesus? I can assure you that practicing the presence of Christ in the daily routines of every day life makes all the difference in the world!
You understand, of course, that as He suffered, so might we. In fact, Peter tells us, “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps” (1 Peter 2:21 – ESV). Suffering is actually the pathway to glory, for as Christ overcame hardship, persecution and death, so will we.
It’s all in who you know. As with Mary and Joseph, Jesus is our spiritual ballast.
As we approach the end of the age, the immediate future appears dark and awesome. Storm clouds are hovering over the global landscape while Satan manipulates his nefarious design for mankind. None of this should take us by surprise. We knew it was coming.
Yet, our hope is not in this world, and never should have been. According to James, loving this world was an adulterous affair (James 4:4). It is simply time to confess our sin and put away our spiritual infidelity. We’ve lost our buoyancy and balance, and we are in desperate need of restoring our ballast.
So let me be so bold as to suggest a course of action. First, get back into God’s Word to renew your understanding of God’s promise of ultimate victory and sure hope. Study biblical prophecy to know all that God has said about future things so that you can navigate with confidence through the rough waters of Satan’s last hurrah. We can know exactly what’s coming because God has told us. To be ignorant is to be subject to rock and roll. On the other hand, confidence in God’s sure promise is your spiritual ballast.
Second, walk with Jesus as your wonderful Savior and magnificent Lord—every day . . . all day . . . 24/7 . . . 365. Experiencing His personal presence in your daily life will transform your odious circumstances into unexpected opportunities. A positive, courageous life of faith which relies on the presence of your indwelling Christ is far better than a negative, fearful life of despair in dependence on your incompetent self. The writer to the Hebrews said that Moses endured, “as seeing him who is invisible” (Hebrews 11:27). As Christ was Moses’ spiritual ballast in turbulent times, so Christ can be yours as well.
Do you want to reduce the emotional nausea that is smothering your joy? Well, place your confidence in a promise and a Person as your stabilizing influence. Think about it! We are closer today to our eternal port of call than we have ever been before.
Ah . . . dry land at last! ■