Jesus the Tree Swing

A few years ago, a fairly inebriated Indian lad decided to make the ill-fated decision of jumping into a zoo’s lion enclosure. Fortunately for him, some workers witnessed the worst decision of his life - I may be giving him too much credit but hopefully this at least cracked the top 3 -and tranquilized the lions before they could pounce. Unfortunately the short lived rescue celebration soon ended with incarceration. They do frown upon that kind of thing in most countries.

The Old Testament story of Daniel doesn’t depict a dude intentionally dangling his life in front of deadly lions, but his defiant faith certainly revealed a willingness to meet such beasts on their home turf. He knew anyone caught praying could get a back stage pass into the Big Cat Rescue. Faith put him in this precarious place, but prayer could just easily get him out or get him through.

Yet even the King seems less amazed by the quality of Daniel’s faith than by the power of Daniel’s God. You can have sincerity of faith in an object lacking ability, and your sincerity won’t accomplish squat.

The king declared to Daniel, “O Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?”
Sometimes we think that if we have enough faith God will rescue; if we don’t, he won’t. Or if we didn’t get the answer to our prayers, something have been wrong with us. Or perhaps something may just be wrong with God. Not true. The writer of Hebrews closes out his “Hall of Faith” describing those with plenteous faith experiencing plenty of obstacles. Some of them experienced rescue FROM their situations while others experienced rescue THROUGH their situations. Either way, the ONE whom they had faith in, is presented to us as being ONE worth trusting completely. He enabled them to be faithful, why would anyone other than Him get a 2nd look?

How can our faith grow so that we can trust God no matter what? We don’t grow by comparing ourselves with others, but we can see our faith grow in the company of others.

One of our favorite vacation memories also happens to have been the “simplest:” a tree swing on a Georgia lake. But I first needed company in order to help me trust that swing. I didn’t know if it would hold me up, and I sure had questions regarding my ability to hold myself on. So I needed to see that others would be held up and would be able to hold on before I could trust the swing. When I witnessed others trust, and they were held up/held on, I became convinced that swing was worth trusting.

Now imagine if I had come to that tree swing and noticed multiple plaques comprising a similar testimony that went something like this “My name is  ______ , and I had all this stuff going on in my life, and this swing held me up, and held me on. What if these plaques came from a group of people from a various settings over multiple centuries? That’s what we have with Hebrews 11 “Hall of Faith.” What if we had the benefit of fellowship with the past as well with present saints? It’s easier to have faith within the company of people who already have faith, and have had faith long ago.

 Even greater, Jesus is more than a swing that holds us up, but a swing with “hands” that hold us on. How do I know if I’ll be able to hold on though _______ situation? We remember that no one can pry us out of His hands, so I don’t need to fret about falling away. If you come to Jesus, and ask him to save you (hold you up and hold you on), even a little bit of faith in the right place is actually plenty of faith. It is far more effective than having a lot of faith in the wrong thing.

And when present company falls away, you are still left with someone who won’t. Look at this encouragement from the Apostle Paul while surrounded by metaphorical lions in the courtroom.

16 At my first defense no one came to stand by me, but all deserted me. May it not be charged against them! 17 But the Lord stood by me and strengthened me, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed and all the Gentiles might hear it. So I was rescued from the lion's mouth. 18 The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed and bring me safely into his heavenly kingdom. To him be the glory forever and ever. Amen. - II Tm 4:16-18

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