It was a beautiful Friday. The sun beamed its beautiful rays, warming the earth with creation’s glow. On this sunny day, the kids did not have school, so we took advantage of the moment and decided to go to the Arch. We had never visited this St. Louis institution, so we thought it a great opportunity to see this impressive sight. We jumped into the truck and headed to the Gateway to the West.
The impressive structure towered before us. Tickets were purchased and we made our way to the tram line forming at the North Elevators. It did not take long for us to find ourselves standing face-to-face with a mini-pod that would whisk us from the ground to the heavens. We stepped into our tiny pod and took our seats in the cramped chamber, preparing ourselves to go to the top. Pod may actually be too gracious of a word for this tiny chamber of terror. The doors closed as we shot heavenward. It felt a bit like the closing scene to Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, minus the chocolate.
The view of St. Louis from the top of the Arch is breathtaking! Everywhere you look there is something to see. The Arch itself is an amazing example of creative ingenuity. It is a reminder of everything good about America as our country began to take shape, expanding westward. The Arch is made of steel and concrete and stands 630 feet, 63 stories, or 7,560 inches tall, weighing an astonishing 17,246 tons. To put that in perspective, it is the equivalent of about 2,300 elephants or 86 Boeing 747s stacked one on top of the other. Those tiny pods of terror carrying people up and down the Arch travel 340 feet per minute, approximately 3.86 miles per hour. The Arch is designed to sway as much as 18 inches, and can withstand an earthquake.
Did you catch that? The Arch was built to move and sway as it is exposed and responds to the elements. It felt a bit disconcerting as the Arch occasionally swayed a tiny bit as we stood 630 extremely long feet in the air. I praise God that the Arch sways. Why? Because if the steel and metal structure did not sway with the outside elements, any strong wind would bring the entire gateway down.
Our lives are much like the Arch.
God has given us the unique ability to move and sway with the people, situations, and life that comes our way. If we approach life white-knuckled and clench-jawed, little room is left for the Holy Spirit to work. Without the ability to bend we can be left in a vulnerable place as one wavers in the balance of life’s storms. Here is the brutal truth: The very storm we face may be precisely the tool our Lord is using to mature us in His divine discipling Plan. Paul often speaks about such moments as he himself learned the ability to move and sway in God, through the Spirit’s power and strength.
We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not driven to despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be manifested in our bodies. For we who live are always being given over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh. So death is at work in us, but life in you. (2 Corinthians 4:8-12)
In other words, we bend, but are not broken. This reminds me of another man who also faced unrelenting storms during His life and conquered them: He was brutally beaten, cast aside by His friends and family, spat upon, called names, and ultimately killed. His name is Jesus, and He was bent and broken for us (Isaiah 53:5), that we might live lives restored with our Creator and have life to its fullest (John 10:10). Listen to other words of comfort from God’s Word:
Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. (Isaiah 41:10)
Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. (James 1:2-4)
For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us. (Romans 8:18)
Do you know the Jesus of Scripture? Do you know—and I mean “know”—that Jesus is with you? May God continue to grow in you the ability to sway in the Lord’s hands. Lean into the Lord, my friend, He is a solid rock in the midst of a raging storm. Winds of fear, worry, and stress may seek to knock us down, but life is too short and too challenging to do it alone. Fear not, for He is with You! Be not dismayed, He is our God; a friend of the broken (Matthew 11:19). “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding but in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” (Proverbs 3:5-6)
Leaning on “I Am”,