A Strong Anchor
It is important to have an anchor in life. What is the anchor? The anchor is what holds us together no matter how strong the wind may be. A boat with a strong anchor will not be drifted away even though there is a strong wind.
In the same way, when we have a strong anchor in life, we will not be drifted away when life’s storms hit us.
Last week, I received very difficult phone calls from all kinds of people. A person who just discovered she had cancer. A person whose marriage almost ended. A person who has a serious issue with her child. It all happened in one week. Life is not easy. Our circumstances are not always good and stable.
I prayed for them. Do you know what I prayed for? Of course, I prayed for their problems to be resolved. But I also I prayed that they may have a strong anchor. I don’t know how they are gonna handle all these problems they are facing right now. I felt for them. They need an anchor.
What is the anchor in your life? What is one thing that holds your life together? For me, the anchor that holds my life together is the fact that I am a child of God. Whenever I face problems, I remind myself that I am a child of God. Yes, that is our anchor. You are a precious daughter of God. You are a precious son of God.
God will never give up his children like no parents will give up their child.
That was what Isaiah saw.
But Zion said, ‘The Lord has forsaken me, my Lord has forgotten me.’ Can a woman forget her nursing-child, or show no compassion for the child of her womb? Even these may forget, yet I will not forget you. (Isaiah 49:14, 15)
God will never forget his precious child.
That was what St. Paul realized in his life.
When we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ it is that very Spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are CHILDREN OF GOD… (Romans 8:15, 16)
Abba is an Aramaic word and it means father. When you call father in a very intimate way, you use Abba. It’s like daddy, 아빠, Papa. But it’s more than that.
Only three times, you see this expression in the New Testament. Here, and Galatians, and Jesus’ prayer in Gethsemane in Mark.
He said, ‘Abba, Father, for you all things are possible; remove this cup from me; yet, not what I want, but what you want.’ (Mark 14:36)
So it is an intimate way of calling a father but not a childish way of calling a father. Behind calling God as Abba, there is deep spirituality of total dependence. It is like a helpless child calling out her parents, totally depending on them. That was how Jesus used Abba. He had his own wishes but he left his life totally in God’s hands.
The Spirit Cries Out
It is a desperate child calling out the father.
St. Paul used this expression.
When we CRY ‘Abba Father.’(Romans 8:15)
It’s like crying out from suffering, crying out for God’s helping hands. There is somebody TO WHOM we can cry out. You know what? When we cry out, the SPIRIT also CRIES OUT for us.
You are not alone. The Spirit is with you. Recognizing that the Spirit is with you is the beginning of spiritual life. The Spirit cries out with you when you cry out.
A little later in the same chapter, Paul talks about what the Spirit does more specifically within you
He said this.
Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but that very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words. And God, who searches the heart, knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. (Romans 8:26, 27)
The Spirit cries out when you cry out. When we feel helpless, the Spirit helps us. When we don’t know how to pray, the Spirit prays for us. “WE DON’T KNOW HOW TO PRAY”- this does not mean that we don’t know mechanically how to pray. It means we are so deeply saddened, so overwhelmed by our problems, so helpless that we don’t even know how to pray. When we see no way out, when the darkness is too dark, and when we see no future, so we don’t even know where to start, that is when we don’t know how to pray. That is what St. Paul is talking about.
Life With The Spirit
When we have no strength left in us even to pray, the only thing that comes out of our mouth is sigh. Karl Marx was not very favourable with the religion. He said that religion is the opium of the people. But he also said right after that, religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. Yes, he saw it right. Religion is the sigh of the oppressed creature. Sometimes what comes out of our mouth is not prayer but only sigh. You know what? The Spirit feels our sigh and the Spirit prays for us with sighs too deep for words.
The Spirit feels as we feel because we are God’s precious child. That’s what the parents do. They feel the pain their children feel. The Spirit says, “I hear you.” “I hear your sigh.” That’s what the Spirit does: the affirmation that we are the child of God.
When the Spirit came down on Jesus, that was what the Spirit did.
And just as he was coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens torn apart and the Spirit descending like a dove on him. And a voice came from heaven, ‘You are my Son, the Beloved; with you I am well pleased.’(Mark 1:10, 11)
This was the anchor of Jesus’ life. Whenever he went through difficult times, Jesus held unto that.
That was what Satan tried to take away from Jesus. Satan tried to tempt Jesus to question about his anchor.
Right after the baptism, right after the Spirit declared that he was the Son of God, Jesus went through temptation in the wilderness. What was Satan’s temptation all about? It was not about temptations that we think about. The temptation was about Jesus’ identity as the Son of God.
This was how Satan began,
If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread. (Matthew 4:3)
If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down…(Matthew 4:6)
But Jesus never let his anchor go. Jesus held unto it. Jesus was very clear about who he was.
You have the same Spirit Jesus had. The very same Spirit declares you that you are God’s precious child.
There is nothing for you to worry about. You will not be abandoned. You will not be like orphans. You will not be alone.
That was what Jesus promised.
This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.‘I will not leave you orphaned. (John 14:17, 18)
Jesus left the Spirit with you and the Spirit is with you and within you. The Spirit tells us that we are not alone. That is what spiritual life is all about. It is life with the Spirit.
Suffer With Christ
Be aware of the Spirit around you. Be aware of the Spirit within you. Be in touch with the Spirit.
Jesus, even though he was the Son of God, he was not exempted from suffering. He went through suffering. You know what the greatest suffering is? It is the suffering of abandonment. That was what he experienced on the cross.
He cried out,
My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
He felt that abandonment. But God never abandoned him. God raised him from the dead.
When you go through suffering, you feel that you are abandoned. That is what suffering does. Suffering makes us feel very alone. Jesus must have felt that too. But you are not alone. The Spirit is with you.
When you suffer with Christ, you will be glorified with Christ.
…in fact, we suffer with him so that we may also be glorified with him. (Romans 8:17)
When you pray, be in the Spirit. When you cannot even pray, don’t worry about it. The Spirit will help you and pray for you and show you things that you cannot even think of.
I would like to read you yesterday’s Inner Voice again.
Prayer is not what you say. Prayer is being in the Spirit. Train yourself to be in the Spirit. You will be shaped and formed by the Spirit. The Spirit will give you peace that the world cannot give. Confidence and courage will arise from within. You will have the wisdom to see your situation in a spiritual way. Everything within you will come alive.