Breakwaters play an important role in modern society but many of us never bother to think about them. Even when I lived on the Gulf Coast I never really paid much attention to what had become a common item. I watched the television reports of the damage caused by Hurricane Matthew as it churned its way up the East Coast of the United States. One news broadcast contained a weatherman in Charleston after the hurricane had passed that city. Although he was highlighting the damage to the area near him, the breakwaters did their job. The beach behind him was in better shape than the rest of the area!
What is a breakwater?
As defined in Merriam-Webster’s Dictionary Online, a breakwater is a wall that is built out into the sea to protect a harbor or beach from the force of waves. For the past few days I’ve been thinking about the breakwaters God intended us to have within our faith. On Wednesday evening of this past week, I was able to attend midweek services with my in-laws. The services yesterday at my local corps (this is what the Salvation Army calls its local congregations), both the morning and the evening services seemed to brush against a similar topic as Wednesday’s service. A part of our growing faith in Jesus creates such a breakwater for us to be able to bear the storms we will face.
Real storms, such as Hurricane Matthew, teaches us about the preparations made by a community for such storms. Right now, even as clean-up continues, many towns, counties, and states are already reviewing what was learned and are making preparations for the next big storm. A spiritual storm can teach us a lot about who we really are, show us where we need improvement, and will allow us to grow in our faith.
We must develop spiritual breakwaters
When I briefly lived in Gulfport, Mississippi, I learned that after Hurricane Camille, nearly every public and private organization studied ways that could have reduced the impact of that storm. By the mid 1970s, breakwaters were added along key areas of the Gulf Coast spanning from Louisiana to Florida. Within our Christian walk, we must prepare for the spiritual storms. I think of the application of what Solomon wrote, The ants are a people not strong, yet they prepare their meat in the summer; (Proverbs 30:25). Already in our house, we see the occasional ant scurrying around, looking for crumbs – in preparation for winter. Solomon is advising us to pay attention to the ant and understand a simple lesson. They prepare for the bad storms now, when things are going well. It would be too late to try to gather food for the colony during the winter.
Since 2006, I have noticed changes in my spiritual walk with the Lord. At first, even the smallest storm would send waves of doubt into my mind. I would doubt my sincerity to Christ, I would doubt His forgiveness being complete, I would doubt that He could love someone as wretched as me. The problem was not Jesus’ love for me at all; the problem was I didn’t have any breakwaters to meet Satan’s spiritual attacks. Satan is not dumb. Too many Christians underestimate his ability to trip up and bring spiritual chaos to even the strongest of Christians. Remember the warning by Peter, Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour (1 Peter 5:8).
The breakwater of asking forgiveness of our sins
Earlier this morning I was deleting some old photos off my smart phone. I came across a photo I had taken of the weekly question written on a dry erase board we use for our pre-teen Sunday school class. The question was, “Why does it seem that it takes God so long to help me when I’m in trouble?” This is a question that all Christians, at some point in our walk, will ask God. The apostle Paul, when explaining the Lord’s Supper, said: But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup (1 Corinthians 11:28). This examination does not begin with anything other than us examining all we do through the lens of scripture.
This is the first and important breakwater of our faith. Paul tells us why this self-examination is so important: For if we would judge ourselves, we should not be judged. But when we are judged, we are chastened of the Lord, that we should not be condemned with the world (1 Corinthians 11:31-32). When we examine ourselves honestly through scripture, we have an opportunity to confess our sins, our failures, and shortcomings before God begins to deal with us about them. When we are in the middle of a spiritual storm, there are times when the Lord will not intervene until we confess our sins that separate us from His boundless grace and love.