I want for you to imagine with me that we are out in the middle of a huge storm on a state of the art fishing boat. We are in the middle of the ocean just trying to survive the rain and the wind and to make things work, it is the middle of night and it is almost impossible to see.
Suddenly, in the middle of this huge storm a wave sweeps over the deck of the boat and pulls one of our sea mates into the ocean. What do you do?
You try to save their life. You find a lifesaver and you throw it overboard at to our friend who will surely die without help. Your aim is good, and it lands within just a few feet of him. He swims over and grabs the lifesaver. But to his horror, you never attached a rope to the life saver.
Without a rope he is dragged out to see, taking the life preserver with him, never to be seen again.
Let’s break it down, what am I trying to show you through this story.
1. There are people in our world who are teetering on the bring of death.
Sometimes we forget that we are in the middle of a storm. Sometimes it is easier to hang out below deck in the comfort of our own bunk and just hope that every one else is OK.
The truth is that there are people who lives are hanging in the balance this week, and this day. And God has a plan for their life and he has a purpose that he created them for. What are we going to do about them?
2. The natural instinct that is in most of us to bring help and to bring hope. We want to be that life saver. We want to selflessly hurl ourselves at those lost people and see if we can bring the hope, the light and the love of God to them. This is a good and a Godly heart to have. It is not wrong.
The problem comes when there is no rope attached to the lifesaver and the boat.
3. If we are not connected to God, we have no strength in ourselves to help people.
This poses a double problem. On the hand you offer false hope to somebody. They see you as a chance to find hope again. They see you as the help that they have been crying out for. But if you are not connected to the boat you are a false hope. Because there is simply no way for you to connected people to the sustaining and powerful help that they need. On your own, you can’t even weather the storm. The lifesaver is only valuable when it is connected to the boat. The storm is just to great for it to be of any use on its own.
And so the first problem is that you are offering false hope to a person, and disconnected you have no actual help to offer them. The second problem is that when you are tossed into the stormy ocean to help save a man and at the same time are not connected, you may very well be dragged out to sea.
Even the best of intentions are not good if the lifesaver isn’t connected to the boat. Chances are, without a connection to Jesus Christ the storms of the world will overwhelm you and you can be drug back out to sea again, in need of saving yourself.
We need the Power of God in our lives. We can’t save anyone on our own. We need to be connected to God, we need to connect people to God.
Because people’s very lives are hanging in the balance. But if we will keep our connection with God a priority, then we can offer true hope. Because when the lifesaver is connected to the boat, then the hopeless have hope.
And so in John 15, Jesus very clearly says that as the branches, we can only produce fruit by being connected to Jesus.
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