Hodge Podge

I remember watching the original daytime version of “Jeopardy” as a child. I’m guessing my mom was watching it, so I sat there and watched it with her. To give you an idea of what I mean by old, the first answer in each category was worth $10 and the host was Art Fleming. At some point, I noticed there were two categories I did not understand: “Hodgepodge” and “Potpourri.” I would come to learn that both meant that the answers in each category were random and did not have a common theme, as was the case for most categories. I am going to share a few passages of Scripture here that would seem perfect for the Hodgepodge or Potpourri categories. But in fact, they have a lot in common:

Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful. Hebrews 10:23 (NIV)

Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. Later that night, He was there alone, and the boat was already a considerable distance from land, buffeted by the waves because the wind was against it. Shortly before dawn Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw Him walking on the lake, they were terrified. “It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”

“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” He said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out His hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” He said, “why did you doubt?” And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped Him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.” Matthew 14:22-33 (NIV)

Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me. Psalm 23:4 (NIV)

The common thread in all three is faith. More specifically, faith to trust that God will not leave us stranded. The anonymous writer of Hebrews tells us to “hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.” It is possible many Christ-followers are struggling with “unswervingly” right now; I know I have a bit in recent weeks. As the pandemic wears on, the lifestyle we considered “normal” becomes distant in the rear-view mirror. This is where Christ-followers can trust that God has a plan. It is where our second passage comes in to play.

First, notice that Jesus tells His disciples to immediately get into the boat and go to the other side. As waves stalled the boat, Jesus walks out on the water to them. They were afraid but did not need to be. Jesus told them to go to the other side. He did not say “get in the boat and I’ll strand you there.” His plan was for them to make it to the other side. They just had no idea how that would play out. And to put a fine point on it, Jesus tells Peter to come out on the water and walk with Him and he does. Until he takes his eyes off of Jesus and focuses on the storm. Then Peter sinks. Jesus is calling on us to trust that there is an “other side” in store for us in the current crisis. We must trust that He will take us there.

Finally, one of the most beloved chapters of the Bible, Psalm 23. And verse 4 is one of the most quoted: “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for you are with me; your rod and your staff, they comfort me.” I love how Eugene Peterson put this verse in The Message: “Even when the way goes through Death Valley, I’m not afraid when you walk at my side. Your trusty shepherd’s crook makes me feel secure.” Believers do not need to feel like lost sheep in the current dark valley. We can allow God to guide us through it, feeling secure every step of the way. Even though we do not know where we are going, He does!

Three seemingly random verses that speak to our current situation. There are a lot more of them throughout the Bible. May I humbly suggest that you spend more time searching for them, and less time breathlessly following the news. You will find the valley will suddenly become far less dark.

This post is republished with permission from Oakbrook Church, De Pere WI

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