Up a Creek without a Paddle
“Because he loves me, says the Lord, I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble. I will deliver him and honor him. Psalm 91:14-15
One of the constants in every life is trouble. You just can’t avoid it! Most likely even today you will face one type of trouble or another, indeed you may be right in the midst of it now. Never be surprised when you encounter trouble; Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble (John 16:33). The mission of the Paul Anderson Youth Home is to facilitate the positive transformation of “troubled boys or young men; and in the process engage in the healing of troubled families. A regular statement of Drew Read, our Chief of Operations, is: “One of the only differences between these young men here at the PAYH and most other young men of their age group is our young men got caught. And that is a good thing. Those who do not will regret it.
All of us suffer trouble and get into it; teenagers constantly face trouble, even when they do not know it. This is an inescapable fact of life. Even if you are chiefly employed in “doing good for yourself and others, you will face trouble; it persistently pursues you or you pursue it, either purposefully or unintentionally. There is little need to define what “trouble means. Everyone knows what it is from the youngest to the oldest. Little children know what it is before they can pronounce the word. It is not something for which you wish. You may find perverse delight in causing trouble, and be quite thrilled bringing it on others, but it is unequivocally true that when you bring trouble you get it back. No one commits the perfect crime for which they are never punished, and no one stirs up trouble and remains untroubled themselves.
You cannot read the Psalms, which address the valleys and mountains of life experience, without acknowledging ever-present trouble in both of those places; in the pit or valleys of despair, you find trouble; on the mountaintop, all too soon you look for the other shoe to drop. In fact, the Psalms are an intimate, personal guide through the tears, pain and joy of life. Read them or sing them, they will direct you to the Balm of Gilead (Jeremiah 8:22), the right medicine for the wounds trouble brings; and, to the Great Physician who applies this medicine fit for what ails troubled souls. Psalm 91 is all about the “deadly pestilence and “the unsleeping hunter’s trap which constitutes the gauntlet trouble brings; read Psalm 91 and see that the troubles laid out here will drown you when you are without a “paddle. We are all “up a creek, immersed in or surrounded by trouble, as the Psalm clearly teaches, but some have a paddle to navigate the rapids and lethal waterfalls and some do not. Psalm 91 is all about the seriousness of the trouble you face; and it also is about refuge, a fortress, where no harm or disaster can destroy you; trouble will not triumph in the one who makes God his refuge.
Many a believing soldier, in the thick of the battlefield, a place I have known all too well, where bullets, mortars, and rockets kill and maim, has been emboldened and refreshed by the promises of Psalm 91. Even some of those who trust in Him and in His promises of eternal safety, may have their life’s blood poured out on the same battlefield, yet immediately awake in the magnificent courts of heaven in His presence, unafraid, and truly AT HOME; returning never enters their mind or desire. God’s promises to those who trust Him for refuge, because they love Him (91:14), are never ineffective; these promises must be understood and appreciated as spanning the whole continuum of life! Myopically, we are prone to relegate the fulfillment of God’s promises solely to life in our fallen world; the life which the Author of Life describes as only a fleeting breath of air in any comparison with eternity. We are truly deficient in our mortal experience of even fathoming the whole span of life in its totality; a view in which lack of faith precludes complete understanding. Faith is the evidence of things NOT seen.
You are truly “up a creek without a paddle if you are disinterested, unable, or simply smug within yourself to combat the trouble of this life with only me, myself, and I. The fog created by pride gives a false perception of life, leading to your downfall; it is a rock-solid fact not even impacted a smidgeon by your vehement denial this will happen. “I don’t need a paddle, you say! “I need only me! I don’t need this God-stuff! Then, ask yourself, why do I keep falling into the snare of trouble and being bamboozled by it again and again, while always thinking it will be better the next time? They say the sign of mental illness is to do something which utterly fails and the next time around do the very same thing all over again with the same result. When you honestly analyze the condition of your life, why do you keep lying to yourself that things are just fine, when it is anything but? You cannot escape your pride; you are a prisoner to it as long as you remain estranged from the freedom maker, God and His Son. Only one will work; either keep your poisonous Pride and drown, or take the Paddle God gives: as Paul Anderson said, “Grasp it and growl! In other words, get busy living with Christ, or be content to die with the “stalking lion always on your tail. Pride or paddle? You need to make a conscious choice if you are up a creek without a paddle.
“Though troubles assail us and dangers affright, though friends should all fail us and foes all unite, yet one thing secures us, whatever betide, the promise assures us, The Lord will provide.
(1st verse of John Newton’s hymn, “Though Troubles Assail Us, 1779).
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