Wednesday, December 7, 2016
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It was a crazy Christmas at our house! Everybody in our family, three generations really excited about giving gifts to the others and getting them. Well, sometimes our festivities aren't quite like "peace on earth." Such was this particular Christmas. The chatter was loud, the laughter was hearty, and the buzz was intense. Or, in the case of a two-year old grandchild, it was just confusing. My wife, who you know, finely-tuned grandma's radar, noticed that our little grandson seemed a little dazed by all this happy Christmas crossfire. So she just quietly slipped to the floor. (We didn't even notice.) She got down where he was and began working patiently with him on assembling a toy he had just opened. That precious scene had been going on for a few minutes I think before any of us even noticed in the chaos. But there was Grandma, quietly creating this island of sanity in a sea of craziness.
I'm Ron Hutchcraft and I want to have A Word With You today about "Being the Harbor In Their Hurricane."
That's what Grandma was for our little guy. She provided the human harbor that protected him from the storm that was blowing all around him. There are some people in your life who need a harbor like that – someone who will be for them a safe place in the middle of a life bombardment. God has put you there to be that harbor.
And He's given us a wonderful flesh-and-blood example of it in our word for today from the Word of God which begins in Acts 4:36 where a man named Joseph was renamed by the church leaders, "Joseph...whom the apostles called Barnabas (which means Son of Encouragement)." I love that. I mean, we've all been called some names we'd like to forget, but wouldn't it be great if people thought you should be called "Encouragement"?
Well, let's watch Mr. Encouragement in action. Saul, the chief persecutor of the early Christians, has just been brought miraculously to Christ. But with his reputation, man, he's radio active. No one wants to risk letting him in the door, except for Barnabas. The Bible says, "When he came to Jerusalem, he tried to join the disciples, but they were all afraid of him, not believing that he really was a disciple. But Barnabas took him and brought him to the apostles" (Acts 9:26-27). He was the harbor when no one else was there for Saul.
When Gentiles, who the Jewish believers weren't very excited about, reportedly came to Christ in Antioch, guess who was there for them? Barnabas, of course. The Bible says, "He encouraged them all..." (Acts 11:23). Saul became the Apostle Paul and he and Barnabas went out as the first Christian missionaries. But they got into a major disagreement over bringing a young man named Mark along. He had washed out in a previous mission and Paul didn't want to take him along. But Barnabas, the guy who believed in second chances, took Mark with him to another ministry assignment. Wouldn't you know, later in life, Paul wrote that Mark was "helpful to me in my ministry" (2 Timothy 4:11). I think that was because a guy named Barnabas kept believing in him.
Will you be the Barnabas for the people around you? While the world is going crazy and the bullets are flying, will you be the one who makes each person feel like they're the only person in the world when they're with you. You can be their island of sanity in an insane world just by giving each person your total focus; your undistracted listening. Human harbor folks like Barnabas give people the "Three Life-Changing A's": your attention, your affection, and your affirmation.
Those positive strokes will help them feel how special they really are. Not just to you, but to God. They know they can come to you and they'll be uncondemned, unjudged, and unafraid. There are few things you can do that will mean more in the midst of a storm than to pray, right then and there, with that person who's under pressure.
In the midst of the crossfire and the craziness of this very cold and very confusing world, you have so much to give, because you have found your harbor in the arms of Jesus Christ.
Be what the people around you need so desperately. Be the one place that they will know they're safe.