The air is cold. Now, when I state that the air is cold, I actually mean that the air is much colder than it has been the past fortnight. The brothers and I have begun sailing on frigid waves. The maelstroms have begun to take on an icier identity, which seemingly does not bode well for my spiritual family sans the strength of our Lord Jesus Christ. However, we know that we are to “stand fast therefore in the liberty by which Christ has made us free” (Galatians 5.1a). Additionally, is it not written that “neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come, nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8.38b-39)? With that verse having been given, I am confident that not even the forthcoming maelstroms shall separate my brothers and me from that wondrous and indescribable love of God.
Now, the obvious conclusion to surmise is that the increasingly colder state of the ocean has generated more temptations to fall away from the mission (and thus, fall away from spiritual life in Christ). Well, that proposed result is founded in truth, and, indeed, it is fair. It would be unwise to believe that the brothers and I would embark on such a spiritually-encouraging journey without meeting challenges in waves. The brothers and I choose not to fear. After all, Satan once even tried to tempt our Lord, which was a predictable failure of an action from the onset (cf. Matthew 4.1-11). Certainly, it is written that the “sword of the Spirit” is the word of God (Ephesians 6.17b). It was by that powerful weapon that Christ our Lord gained an unquestionably great victory over that serpent of old (cf. Luke 4.8). Satan should have known better than to even contemplate baiting our Lord, let alone actually uttering such words of temptation. We serve a wise and mighty God, who has charged us not to “put the Lord your God to the test” (Deuteronomy 6.16). Having written of that divinely-ordained commandment, I nobly, yet humbly, choose to serve that Lord God without question and without temptation.
Yet, this weak servant of the Lord could use another source of spiritual strength. In such a seemingly-bleak state of mind, I am thankfully reminded by the First Book of Kings, chapters 17 through 21. In other words, the stories of the prophet Elijah could serve well to be that by which the Lord can sustain my spiritual sanity. Now, in the eighteenth chapter, Elijah has a great showdown between himself, representing the Lord of Hosts, and the northern tribes of Israel, which very much had succumbed to the evils associated with the Canaanite god Baal (cf. I Kings 18.20-40). When the prophets of Baal failed to see their animal sacrifice miraculously alit by the false god, Elijah not only sees his sacrifice to the Lord honoured, but also sees it alit despite the sacrifice being drenched in water (18.38). In the nation which the Lord had specifically chosen to be God over (cf. Exodus 6.7), a mediator of His sovereignty was necessary. Fortunately, as the Lord had undoubtedly foreseen, the pious prophet Elijah the Tishbite, of the inhabitants of Gilead (cf. I Kings 17.1a), was more than willing to answer the spiritual call. Such an influential prophet of the Lord was Elijah that the reader of the Holy Scriptures ought not to be surprised by his appearance at the Transfiguration of our Lord Christ Jesus on that anonymous and high mountain (Luke 9.30), along with Moses, whom God had used to grant the Israelites their freedom from corporeal bondage. It is the will of this petty servant of the Lord to strive to be as pious as the prophet Elijah, as mighty as the Lord Christ Jesus, and as perfect as our God.
On another subject I have recently pondered as this ship has sifted through these frigid waters, one wonderful consequence of the fulfillment of the innumerable prophecies through the incarnation of Christ is that the torah, the law, is no longer necessary, as especially Paul advocated and expounded admirably (cf. Romans 7.1-6). From this great occurrence, we realize that our Lord views no sin as better or worse than another, with the lone exception of the blaspheme of His unknowable name (cf. Matthew 12.31-32). After all, the astute readers of the Holy Scriptures ought to recall the presentation of the Lord before Moses at the burning bush.
"'Moses said to God, ‘When I come to the Israelites and say to them,
"'The God of your fathers has sent me to you, and they ask me,
"'What is His name?, what shall I say to them?’ And God said
"'to Moses, ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh’”
Now, ‘Ehyeh-Asher-Ehyeh’ is Hebrew for ‘I Am Who I Am,’ a clever and accurate way to simultaneously provide Moses with an apt answer to his inquiry and to show who the Lord is by descriptions. Whenever a person blasphemes the Lord, He is essentially denying both His access to the person’s heart (not denying His existence in the while) and His sovereignty over everything in existence. Against that idea do I choose to identify with Joshua, who once said, “‘As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord’” (Joshua 6.24).
Although I have expounded on the possibility of blaspheming the unknowable name of the Lord as the lone unforgivable transgression one can commit, a renowned theologian once wrote that the greatest of sins is pride (C.S. Lewis, ‘Mere Christianity’). When one steps back and examines the plausibility of pride truly being the most significant sin, the idea is not insane. After all, it is written that “pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16.18). However, the Holy Scriptures point to blasphemy as being the unforgivable sin. As Christ once said,
"'Assuredly, I say to you, all sins will be forgiven the sons of men,
"'and whatever blasphemies they may utter; but he who blasphemes
"'against the Holy Spirit never has forgiveness, but is subject to
But that renowned writer Lewis is correct, for it could be argued that blasphemy comes about due to an asinine measurement of pride within a given person. Such a person, bounded by pride due to choosing to view personal accomplishments from a rather ungodly and sinister angle, is so committed to the wiles of that crazed agent of Satan, that is haughtiness, that he is even willing to rebuke the name of the Lord out of a sickening likening towards himself. I, this meek servant of the Lord, zealously pray for such people, that they may find the great Saviour, the Lord Christ Jesus, before they drive themselves to such rash and foolish acts as blaspheming the name of the Lord (whether blasphemy or pride is the greatest of sins).
Regarding the immediate future with my band of spiritual brothers, Bréanninn confidently anticipates more time in the ocean, amidst the icy, but still challenging, waves. The clouds shall grow darker still, he envisions, as I had previously conjectured. With the increase of the smoky clouds shall likely come thick, nautical fog. The dark mist shall tempt us to abandon our mission, to subsequently turn our wretched and shamed faces from the incomprehensibly wondrous face of our Lord, who sent His Son to atone for our iniquities and evils. Since He understands our plight, particularly through the petty temptation episode with Satan himself, we are assured that He shall not forsake us (cf. Psalms 37.28). No matter how ruthlessly we are tempted, and no matter how many times we succumb and comply to the wiles of the enemy, we have the knowledge that He shall not forget about us. Through love, through His Son and His Holy Spirit, He encourages us to not forget about Him, even if that means that He has to find an unthinkable avenue by which to break the pride from any one of us. Such a beautiful thought uplifts me even now, as the thick mist onsets, as the murky fog begins to envelop our ordained vessel....
A hard, dull bitterness of cold,
That checked, mid-vein, the circling race
Of life-blood in the sharpened face,
The coming of the snow-storm told.
The wind blew east; we heard the roar
Of Ocean on his wintry shore,
And felt the strong pulse throbbing there
Beat with low rhythm our inland air.
- John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘Snowbound’ 11-18.*