I think that if John Milton would start over and write his poem today about Kodiak, Paradise Lost would not be about the fall of man, but of the great wind.

I was walking our dogs one morning this week as the wind pounded and the rain pelted everything in sight. As we walked along, I was enchanted by everything that in the early morning grey dawn, was being blown along the beach. I watched the long leaves of kelp float and flutter along like mystical beings on the morning tide.

When they reached the beach, they continued to float and flutter in the wind along the sand, just as they had on the water. I watched one object tumble in fascination until I realized it was our little dog staggered by the wind.

I tried to pick her up, but she was determined to do it her way. She acted as if it was nobler to struggle along on her own than to accept help.

That attitude and spirit of determination may work out okay for small dogs on the beach, but it’s a recipe for failure in life. It’s not a reflection on our determination nor is it a sign of weakness to accept help. Determination and weakness doesn’t cross the line until we accept help as the total effort. In life, we call lack of effort on our part and acceptance of help ‘welfare’. In spiritual matters, we call lack of effort on our part and acceptance of help ‘surrender’.

When the slave ship captain could no longer find any avenue of escape from the storm, he cried out, “Lord, have mercy on us.” Writing of his surrender later, he penned the words which we now know as the hymn ‘Amazing Grace’. When his resources were completely depleted, God’s grace took over.

I think that too often, as a Minister of Grace, I watch people who have reversed the process. They have given up on their own efforts to survive in life, but are doggedly determined to do it their way in their spiritual matters. ‘Welfare’ is intended as a crutch to help us on our journey, not a wheelchair to rest our life upon. ‘Surrender’ is intended as an island paradise to escape the stormy seas.

Matthew recorded these words of Jesus Christ in chapter 6: “Therefore do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.”

This morning I am sitting in my office and watching the sun try to peek through the clouds. The storm has passed and though I know that storm winds will one day again blow, I am at peace because I have learned the truth in the Apostle Paul’s words in Philippians 4. “I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength.”

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