Resisting the Tempest: Fearless Victory Series, Part 2

On one of New Zealand's most northerly shores lies a fascinating area: Cape Reinga.

The Cape Reinga lighthouse graces the view of two mighty bodies of water, the Tasman Sea and the Pacific Ocean, as they come crashing together. The roll of their waves beat mercilessly upon the many beautiful beaches surrounding the cape.

The fauna in this region can't exactly be considered "towering". The area is subject to nearly constant heavy winds, and as a result, it is renowned for being an place where Bonsais grow naturally.

There is this one tree, however, that continues to spread its lofty branches high into the sky, soaring way above any of the other plant life in the region. It is a lonely Pohutukawa tree (also called a "Christmas Tree" due to the fact that it breaks out into beautiful red blooms around Christmas time each year). The Pohutukawa's branches are gnarled and twisted, defying the heavy easterly winds, and the scientists have to stand and scratch their heads, wondering how such a tree could even exist. But not only does it stand tall now, it has been standing tall for the last 800 years! Though they have tried, the intense winds haven't been able to bring it down!

There is a lesson for us to learn from this lone Pohutukawa tree. I believe that most of us would likely act like the many Bonsais in the region. We have accepted God into our lives, but somehow we can't seem to shake off the nasty character defaults and addictions that tend to continually resurface. We try prayer, we claim Bible texts, we submit ourselves to the laying on of hands, but no matter what, the temptations seemed to be too virulent to resist. We go through life feeling much like a yoyo.

Naturally, our bonsai-kind of existence raises many nagging questions. Why can't we seem to overcome these pesky "weaknesses", these strongholds on our very souls? Can we ever truly be free? Can the perpetual downward-spirally cycle even be broken? Are we doomed to an existence of just "getting by"?

But wait. Didn't Jesus take care of our "weaknesses"? "He took up our infirmities and carried our diseases." (Matt 8:17 NIV).

But I think more often we identify with Paul: "I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do." (Rom 7:15 NIV)

Is there truly a solution to our depressing way of living? Are we only playing church for the sake of it, or is there real power available to us that can shake off all those nasty habits?

Then we are reminded of that solitary Pohutukawa tree that is still standing tall against the many storms that assail it on a daily basis, and I notice that some Christians are experiencing that same strength as well. There is hope!

But how can we reach it?

This current series is written to help each of us understand that there is more to life than a "bonsai"-kind of existence, to help us understand how we, too, can stand tall like the lone Pohutukawa tree and start blossoming to the glory of God. We can attain our long-sought for victory! However, before we can even touch on this subject, we need to be made aware of three things:

1. We have an enemy, and he is raving mad. This series will first address some nasty secrets of this adversary. After all, how can we be victorious if we are not even aware of the war tactics of our opponent?

2. There are some secrets that we all have in common, secrets that hold the power to determine the outcome of our fight. The only way for us to expect victory is for us to understand some of the basics of our functioning!

3. God is all powerful! Although we may not even be aware of how God is involved in our lives, there are no secrets with God! He wants us to know the power He has available for each one of us, and He wants us to know how to access this power in the most effective ways.

In conclusion, please take a moment to meditate upon the following text: "For though a righteous man falls seven times, he rises again, but the wicked are brought down by calamity." (Prov 24:16 NIV)

How are you facing the tempests of life?

But no matter what, remember that solitary Pohutukawa tree!

Rob Chaffart

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