Do We Sink or Swim?
by Lonnie Lane
I had a dream. A huge ship of ocean liner proportions was sinking. I woke up and the Lord said to me, “You were trying to keep it from sinking instead of learning how to swim.” I felt the word was not just a personal one, but about our nation.
There are some words of prophecy that have come forth recently that say, “Prepare for the suddenlies,” and saying these suddenlies may come even in the next few months. I’ve asked the Lord, how do we prepare when we don’t know what it is we’re preparing for? Maybe the dream is part of an answer.
According to my Roget’s Thesaurus, suddenly means: abruptly, unexpectedly, without warning, quickly, out of the blue, in a heartbeat, in a wink, instantly, meteorically (hmmm, a meteor?), all of a sudden, all at once, like a flash. Antonym: gradually, eventually, slowly.
OK, that has my attention. This is not in the sweet by-and-by. This indicates an imminent event. If indeed the “suddenly” words are from the Lord (and not all prophecies are; one must be discerning and take them to the Lord for His clarification to you), a sudden change may be coming to us. Suddenlies indicate change. Well, changes always happen. It’s what the stuff of life and history is made of. Some are good changes; some are not so good, at least at the onset. It’s what we make of them that counts in the end.
At least one prophecy states that God has good intended for us, that good things are ahead for us. I am reminded that God’s ways are higher than ours and that He is more concerned with our character than our comfort. His idea of good and ours might be somewhat different. But no matter what “suddenly” happens, God has promised to cause“all things to work together for good to those who love God, and are called according to His purpose” (Rom 8:28).
But what’s a suddenly? 9/11 was a “suddenly.” The stock market crash of 1929 was a “suddenly.” The start of WWII for us was a “suddenly.” John Kennedy being shot was a “suddenly” as was the death of Martin Luther King, Jr. Prophets, of which I believe he was one, are subject to adversity of high degree, but that man changed the destiny of our nation and millions of its citizens for the better. His death may have been a suddenly but the fruit of it was profound. Dr. King is a hero of mine. I have two in particular, him and Golda Maier who was elected as Israel’s fourth prime minister in 1969. Her attitude was, “Failure is not an option,” and reveals the same spirit as Dr. King. Whether in “suddenlies” or “eventualies” we would do well to adopt the same mentality. But we have to grow into that. It’s about character. It’s character over skill or education, or what we know or who we know, that matters.
I heard character being talked about on a TV show relating to the character of the two presidential candidates. The commentator said that character is not what happens in the face of a crisis, character is forged day by day, year after year, and a crisis will reveal what character is already in the man. It will come to the surface and prove the character of the person that is already there.
Americans proved to have that overcoming character after 9/11, and most especially the New Yorkers themselves, to rally and help in so many brave and practical ways, to find, to provide, to sustain, and to begin to rebuild when the crisis was over. My son and his family were in the middle of that catastrophe. His wife heard the sound, looked up and saw the planes, one after the other, hit the buildings. She ran, carrying my five-year-old grandson, to get him to safety. He saw people jumping out of windows over her shoulder as she ran. My son was able to get a bike (as the subways weren’t working) and get to where she was and they then walked 96 blocks with their two sons, 5 and 2, to get to safety. He told me of how people were there for one another, encouraging and helping each other and being courteous to each other in the midst of mayhem. People were calm, compassionate and strong.
I was (and always am) so proud of my son that he saw the goodness in all that took place that day despite what it cost them. Our enemies may have destroyed some buildings and even thousands of lives (including the lives of the perpetrators) but the tragedy served to reveal the character of thousands who were on the scene as first responders or the many who flew or drove in to do what they could to help, and those who faithfully prayed. Years before, while living in San Francisco, my son experienced a significant earthquake. He told me then that ultimately you can’t even depend on the earth to stand still under your feet. You have to be someone who can stand when the “suddenlies” happen.
The words to a song my brother wrote are going through my head right now so I’ll share them with you though you can’t hear me singing: The mountains may be removed and the hills may shake, but My loving-kindness won’t be moved from you. My covenant of peace will not forsake you, says the Lord who has compassion on you.…Just keep your eyes on me and firmly stand (From Isaiah 54:10).
Years ago I did a research paper for a sociology class which stays with me. It was about how people are affected by such disasters as earthquakes. It may be the only paper I consciously remember. I’m not even sure why I picked this topic. Maybe it was the Lord so I could write about it here and now. Maybe I had even told my son about it before his earthquake experience because as I recall, his friends gravitated to his home that day. Maybe he was “stable” when things weren’t. Anyway, the conclusion of the paper was that people who help other people in emergencies, or are just there for them, come out of the crisis as much healthier people than those who are more self-protective. The ones who lend a hand, take risks for the benefit of others, or sacrifice their own well-being for someone else, they do well. Kind of reminds me of Yeshua who laid down His life for His friends (John 10:11; 15:13) and even for those who weren’t His friends.
The most emotionally unstable and, shall we say, “emotionally uncomfortable” people are often those who are the most self-absorbed. Their life energy is used almost entirely for themselves. They feel threatened and are therefore self-protective. But for the Lord He was always outward directed for the benefit of others. He exhorts us to be as He is, right? And why not be? Yeshua is the quintessential example of humanity at its best. You can see it in every day He lived. These are not just Bible stories; the Gospel accounts are the journal of the most successful man who ever lived. Rejection never discouraged Him, lack never hindered Him, accusations never intimidated Him, persecution never frightened Him, opposition never deterred Him, and death didn’t threaten Him. Talk about what looked like a tragedy turning into a victory even his death turned into a resurrection! What a history changer that was. It still continues to be, one person at a time.
What does your journal read like? I had a pastor’s wife tell me once that she had two date books. She had one in which she kept her appointments and her “To Do” list. But at the end of the day, she was frustrated because often the to do’s didn’t get done. But then she realized what she had actually accomplished, how she had helped people in one way or another as things came up. So she started another date book in which she listed at the end of the day what she had done for others that day or that week. Things that may even seem inconsequential become jewels in our crown, I think. It is part of what Kingdom character is all about, letting Yeshua minister to others through us. Letting him love people through our words, our hugs, and our helping hands. If you want to feel His joy, that’s one of the best ways I can think of.
I remember a rather difficult and depressed time in my own life, trying to fight my way to where I could breathe emotionally. A suddenly happened. It was spontaneous. I was able to lift my head and notice someone else in need and came out of myself and shared the Lord with them. Then another suddenly happened: I felt His joy! Joy burst forth inside like a starburst in a dark sky, and this suddenly changed me for good. So this isn’t just theory to me. I’ve seen it work, my friend. Yeshua’s way is the high way!
It would seem like now is a good time to start practicing for the suddenlies. How can we practice swimming today should the ship we’re depending upon to get us where we want to go in life starts to sink? First, I would go to the Lord and ask Him what He would have you do to prepare. The prophecies did say to prepare. There may be some very practical things He would have you do. I live in Florida and this week we are storing up non-perishable food and water in anticipation of a possible hurricane. Some think Americans in general ought to be doing that for various reasons.
Secondly, I suggest we heed the Lord’s word and metaphorically learn how to swim. What does that mean to you? Please pray about it and ask the Lord again what “swimming” might mean for you or your family. And thirdly, I would practice “swimming” toward others that God may put in your path whom you can help. You learn how to swim by first getting into the water. Jump in. Who is there that is off your daily radar screen of self that could use a little help, or encouragement, or for that matter, food or practical assistance this week? Do you know of anyone whose personal ship is listing a little or even beginning to sink who needs help in learning to swim too? Could you consider doing unto others or one other person today (and tomorrow) as you would like someone to do unto you in a time of need? (See Matthew 7:12.)
It may be that our suddenlies will be chocked full of wonder and awe and the presence of the Lord, and provision in glorious ways. Great things could be in store for us. Perhaps our new president will lead with godly character and wisdom to be able to traverse the complexities in the world today (may it be so, in Yeshua’s name. Amen), though we don’t look to the government of men to give us the ultimate security that only the Prince of Peace can bring us.
The ship in my dream was huge. No matter the size of our suddenly, the same issues remain. Crowds are made up of individual people with individual needs. Even when things are good, there will still be those in need. As Yeshua said, “You always have the poor with you” (Matt 26:11; Mk 14:7; John 12:8). “Poor” isn’t just about money and finances. Need comes in many ways at all levels of society. Who has not been without any need or been grateful for someone to come along side to help?
If whatever ship we are on begins to take on water and not look like it’ll stay afloat, let it go! If God is bringing suddenlies, that means some kind of change of the status quo. Don’t hold onto what He may be trying to release us from in order to give us something better, to set our sights higher or to free us from what hinders us from great things. Whatever destination we may have thought we were headed for, if expectations begin to sink, should something suddenly come to deter them, or to change where we thought we were headed, or even if the ground beneath our feet begins to shake, “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble” (Psalm 46:1). There is nothing that He won’t turn to good if we stay focused on Him with an eye toward the good that you can do now.
God “has promised, saying, 'Yet once more I will shake not only the earth but also the heaven’” (Hebrews 12:26). That was written a long time ago. We’re still waiting. There is somewhat of a national and international “shaking” going on today. The world is highly unstable and volatile right now. Presently, there are “wars and rumors of wars.” But Yeshua said, “See that you are not frightened” (Matthew 24:6). Keep in mind, that what God begins to shake, do not try and stabilize. Uzzah tried to stabilize the Ark of the Covenant when it looked like it was going to topple and he was struck dead (2 Samuel 6:7). God doesn’t need us to help Him keep His Word or His covenant from toppling. His word will stand no matter what else shakes out.
At the same time, if changes begin to take place and something you’ve always depended on being there is suddenly shaking or sinking, keep your hands off of it. It could be God’s doing. And if it is, He will stabilize what He wants stabilized and trying to hold onto something He wants out of our hands could prove problematic to us and to others, to say the least. That includes our traditions as well as our positions.
King David who wasn’t always king and who had his share of crises, says of Him, “I saw the Lord always in my presence; for He is at my right hand, so that I will not be shaken” (Acts 2:25). Keeping the eyes on the Lord and the focus of our hearts on Him as if we were doing life along side of our best friend who just happens to be the Lord of the Universe, and Almighty God, will certainly keep us in peace at all times. The purpose of God’s shakings “denotes the removing of those things which can be shaken, as of created things, so that those things which cannot be shaken may remain” (Heb 12:27). Personally, though I can’t tell you I look forward to the shakings any more than you do, I have such an expectation of the goodness of God coming out of it.
If you saw the interview Sid did with David Jones, you heard David describe how he saw in a vision people getting out of their cars in a day of judgment and running, looking up at the sky and trying to shield themselves from whatever was coming down upon them. The following night I too had a mini-vision. I too looked up and I too got out of my car, but I didn’t run. I stood with my hands thrown high in the air, face lifted to heaven and shouted praises to God. For the time had come. He was defeating evil. He was bringing justice upon the earth. People were running and terrified, not knowing that it was God who was destroying what destroys, He was reclaiming the earth for good and removing all that is evil and ungodly. I knew what those people didn’t know, that things weren’t out of control because He was in control. It wasn’t some kind of meteoric (!) catastrophe but the culmination of all that the Fall and sin has robbed His creation of. Ultimate Goodness was aborting all of what the Hebrew word “ra” means: evil, adversity, affliction, bad, grief, calamity, distress, harm, hurt, ill, misery, naught, sadness, sorrow, sore, trouble, worse and wickedness. All of that was about to be abolished and removed from the earth. Now that is something to rejoice about and look forward to.
So whatever suddenly comes, as David sang, “Surely God is good to Israel, to those who are pure in heart” (Ps 73:1). Our hearts are purified by our faith Yeshua who alone is good. He imparts His goodness to us as we look to Him for it. Swimming would seem to have in part to do with making sure our lives are right with God so that we don’t drown in sin and perish. Let’s practice swimming in the waters drawn from the well of salvation (if I can mix metaphors here) and be a people who are prepared for the suddenlies of God. The optimal word from God at this time is “prepare.” And even if it looks like the devil is doing the sinking or the shaking, don’t give him the credit for any of it. Give praise to God for the good He will bring to you and through you, whatever happens suddenly or eventually.
Reprints of this article is permitted but must include: Reprinted by permission of Messianic Vision, www.sidroth.org, 2008
Scripture quotations are from the New American Standard Bible Copyright ©1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, Calif. All rights reserved. Used by permission.