We have started a new series at Flatland Church called “Escape from Gilligan’s Island.” Our pastors introduced the series yesterday by, of course, talking about the TV series Gilligan’s Island and how they never got off the island (at least not until the stupid movie). We even sang/spoke (poorly) the theme song, at least the part where the song lists off all the people stranded. It was fun! But our pastors still had some serious things to say.
They discussed how we can find ourselves stranded in some way in our lives. We can be stranded in our relationships, our jobs, our finances, our addictions, among others. They encouraged us that we can escape from being stranded through God’s power. Over the next eight weeks, they will be showing us God’s power that can deliver us as seen in the book of Exodus.
I have been stranded myself with regards to my health. I am getting rather frustrated over the lack of health lately; gluten-intolerance, neuroupathy, vasovagal syncope, and a spastic esophagus. It seems that during the past few weeks I have had them all flare up rather heavily.
At least one doctor I visited believed that many of my problems all stem from the gluten-intolerance. Unfortunately, I managed to accidentally get some gluten into my diet recently so I had a fairly nasty break out of the skin blisters that it produces. Gluten also causes me to have rather nasty abdominal pains and other nastiness (celiac disease). During church service yesterday, I was experiencing some very severe chest pains, caused by the spasms in my esophagus. So, even as our pastors were talking about being stranded, I was literally feeling it.
During our Oasis service on Wednesday, I also felt stranded and very frustrated because of my gluten-intolerance. We celebrated the Eucharist (bit redundant, I know) but there I was, not able to fully partake because I can’t eat the bread. Waves of sadness really hit me. Communion has always meant so much to me throughout my life and to be cut off from it because of some stupid illness drives me crazy.
Some might chide me a little saying, it is only symbolic. And, yes, I recognize that partaking of the bread and wine is not salvific but I have a tendency to follow to a small degree Calvin’s view of the Eucharist which says there is something spiritual that takes place during Communion. What that is, I can’t say. I just know that Paul would not have needed to warn us about taking part in our celebration through the bread and grape unworthily if it was purely symbolic (1 Cor. 11:27-30).
Anyway, I look forward to this series. I may not be able to escape from my illnesses per se but I believe that God can lead me away from the emotional feelings of being stranded. Our pastors emphasized that we need to be alert to God’s salvation. He may pull up to our isolated island in a cruise ship or just a row boat – either one can rescue us. But if we just want to get on and look for a cruise ship, we may never get off the island because He has provided us with some other form of rescue.
There is an interesting passage in 1 Timothy 5:23 that has recently caught my attention again. Paul urges Timothy to drink a little wine for his stomach because he is sick frequently. This has to really get under the skin of those who believe that taking medication indicates a lack of faith. Paul, super apostle, giving medical advise instead of saying, “BELIEVE and you will be healed!”
Why would Paul tell Timothy to take his medicine? Paul recognizes that until the resurrection, we have to suffer from the effects of sin. He sees that God has provided us with ways to stay healthy and cure illness that may not seem to be miraculous but still a gift of God. He also recognizes that God’s power is made manifest in our weakness. God can do amazing things through us, even when we are weak. This is going to be one of the messages we will see in Exodus, God’s Power in a weak vessel.
And so, although we may think we are only going on a three hour tour, we can find ourselves stranded on some deserted tropical island. God can and will rescue us from being stranded, if we only let Him. I will try to be open to what God wants to tell me and hopefully you will come along for the ride and discover your own way to be rescued (and be sure to listen to the podcasts of the sermons – either on Flatland Church’s website or subscribe via iTunes).
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