Stay Close To the Lord

                                   Trust in the Lord with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;

In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.

(Proverbs 3:5-6)

Recently, I watched a movie called “13 Lives”. This was based on a true story where 12 boys and their coach went exploring in a cave in Thailand back in 2018. A monsoon hit and the cave soon began filling up with water, trapping the boys and their coach for over two weeks. Many people from all over the world came to help rescue the boys and their coach, and special cave divers were called in to assist Thailand’s divers. As I watched them re-enact the rescue, there were parts that were gripping, such as when the professional divers swam through narrow openings of the cave where there was barely room for them and their oxygen tanks. This was about a 2.5 mile swim, and some of it was completely immersed under water. As I read some of the articles on the story, it stated that prior to the cave filling up, they found 4 pump workers who were unknowingly trapped inside the cave. The divers had to bring them out, sharing their scuba regulators with them. The movie showed how one of the workers panicked in the dark, cold underwater conditions and began wrestling with the diver to get away. The diver had to wrestle with him to keep him moving along until they reached the surface which was just a short distance away. Once they found the boys and their coach, they were surprised and happy to see them all alive. Due to the coach’s calming manner, they were all able to survive until help arrived. He had encouraged the boys to pray with him, apply breathing techniques to keep them calm and use up less oxygen, and encouraged them to rest to reserve their energy as they had no food and the oxygen level in the cave was low. According to one article, the coach stated he never told the boys they were stuck as that would have made them panic. Instead, he told them positive things, such as how they needed to wait until they were rescued, which gave the boys hope. Though the coach was scared as well, he never showed it and continued to speak positively to them, encouraging the boys to believe.

Once the boys were found, the divers had to make sure that the boys didn’t have the same episode as with the pump workers which could be catastrophic for the boys as well as the divers. They also had to consider the boys weakened state due to having eaten no food for over two weeks. They conferred with an anesthesiologist and it was decided that they would give the boys and their coach some medications and place them under anesthesia to get them out. Then they would tie their wrists together and tie their ankles together to keep them from fighting the divers if they were to wake up. Though this was considered risky and never done before, it was the only way to ensure they were all extracted from the cave safely. If they woke up during the process, they would be given more anesthesia. In the end, all of the boys and their coach were rescued.

Last week as I sat outside and prayed about some concerns, I prayed “Lord, you always know what’s on my heart, but I want to know what’s on your heart.” Ironically, this movie came to mind. It was ministered to me that in the times we are in, we must remain close to the Lord. There will be times, as in the movie, when we feel as though we are under water, in closed quarters and barely able to move. We may even feel as though we will drown under the waters of stress, financial difficulties, family or health problems, food shortages, etc and may begin to fight the very one who will rescue us (Jesus) due to fear which causes us to panic. That fear could cause us to wrestle with God and push away from Him, as we try to swim on our own to find our way out of the problem. This could be costly and affect our lives dramatically. But if we just remain close to Him and allow Him to guide us through it, we will be able to breathe under the waters of emotion and problems, and soon we will rise to the surface again. There are times, however, knowing we might panic, God may have to “put us to sleep” for a bit, into a restful state, to get us through it or make it so that we are unable to move in the situation and we have no choice but to call out to Him and trust in Him. Different situations call for different solutions.

We must remember that in situations that seem to make us feel as though we can’t breathe and may cause us fear and panic, we are to apply what the Word of God tells us to do. We are to remain calm, pray, and rest in the Lord knowing that He will rescue us.

This morning as I prayed about another concern, I opened my bible and it came to Isaiah 7. King Rezin of Syria and Pekah son of Remaliah king of Israel, marched up to fight against Jerusalem but they could not overpower it. The news came to the royal court of Judah that Syria and Israel became allies against Judah and this caused king Ahaz and his people to tremble with fear. The Lord told Isaiah to give a message to king Ahaz. He even told Isaiah where to find him…at the end of the aqueduct that feeds water into the upper pool. Instead of going to God for help, Ahaz was trying to resolve the issue in his own power by trying to cut off the water source to his enemy. Many times, we hear that we are to step out in faith and do something, but there are other times where we must seek God to see what He wants us to do. In doing this, we will find that He may simply want us to remain still, allow Him to lead and He will take care of the situation. Isaiah’s message to Ahaz was to stop worrying, that he doesn’t need to fear king Rezin nor Pekah. Yes, they are plotting against him, but the invasion will never happen nor take place. The Lord already had a plan to take care of the situation. He also said another important thing, “Unless your faith is firm, I cannot make you stand firm.” God was challenging Ahaz. He knew that Ahaz was considering seeking help from Assyria to defeat Israel and Syria and He was trying to get across to Ahaz that he needed to trust in Him and He would take care of those coming against Judah. But Ahaz chose to trust in man and take care of things without God’s help. The outcome would be the same for Judah whether Ahaz chose God or the Assyrians to help him because God keeps His promises. He had assured Ahaz that their plan to attack would not succeed. However, the outcome for Ahaz was not the same. If Ahaz had listened to God and did what He advised, the attack would not happen and Ahaz would be blessed as king. However, since he chose to depend on Assyria for help, God would still keep His promise and not allow Judah to be overtaken by Syria and Israel. However, since Ahaz did not trust in the Lord and relied on man to save him, things would change for Ahaz as king and later on down the road Judah would be overtaken by Assyria.

Life happens, problems arise, our circumstances change, and we need to know how to handle these things when they come up. There are going to be times when we may feel closed in, like we are drowning under the waters of problems. Fear may cause us to panic and push away from the very one who is trying to help us because we become disoriented and can’t see clearly in the crisis. In our quest to relieve the pressure and fix the situation, we may end up reaching out for help to those who are untrustworthy and do not have our best interest in mind, like the Assyrians, but may be able to provide help temporarily. The problem with this is that although it may relieve the pressure at the moment, there will be a cost for this decision down the road. However, if we stay close to the Lord, seek His guidance and allow Him to guide us through the problem, not only will we will be able to breathe under those deep waters, but God will rescue us and we will rise to the surface. He will provide a permanent solution.  It is in these situations where we learn and grow in faith.

When problems arise, stay as close to the Lord as possible and do not lean on your own understanding of the situation, especially when you are struggling with fear and worry. When you fear, it can cloud your judgment and may cause you to seek a solution that may not be the best for you. Take the problem to the Lord and seek His advice on what to do, then wait on Him to direct your path.