Excerpt for Adrift in the Sea of Life by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Adrift in the Sea of Life

By Jim Lewis

Distributed by Smashwords

©2017 Lewis

Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan Publishing House. All rights reserved.

The “NIV” and “New International Version” trademarks are registered in the United States Patent and Trademark Office by International Bible Society. Use of either trademark requires the permission of International Bible Society.

Scripture quotations marked (ESV) are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version (ESV), ©2001 by Crossway. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

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Cover design by Katie Zaske Gleason, Hamilton, MI.

Contact the author at:
usti@wmis.net


About the cover

The images on the cover are intended to reflect the sinful nature that we all have dealt with at some point in our lives or may currently be dealing with. The person in the boat has taken the position of reaching out to the One who can relieve us of the baggage of our sinful nature and wash it all away.

Table of Contents

The Author’s Testimony

Meet Lauren Chapin

Introduction

Part One

Drifting Away

In the Beginning

In Our Beginning

The Devil at Our Heels

Rebelling Against God

Christian Home Versus Christ-centered Home

Part Two

Lost at Sea

Are We Ever Really Lost?

You Are Never Lost” - God

Searching for God While Trying to Hide

Believing and Trusting

Every Christian was Lost at Sea at One Time

Emmanuel - God With Us

God’s Amazing Grace

God Can Mend Anyone

Literally Lost at Sea

Part Three

On Solid Ground

How Just is Our God?

Oh, the Joy of Being on Solid Ground

The Path to the Rock

Is Anyone Lost Forever?

Jesus is the Way - The Only Way

We are All the Same Distance from God

Bibliography

Excerpts from other works by the author

The Good Life - According to God

Invisible Heroes - Role Models for Christ

The Author’s Testimony

As you will discover, this is a book about redemption. Jesus redeemed us all by bearing our sins on the cross. We don’t have to, nor are we capable to, do anything to earn the gift of salvation that He lavished upon us except to acknowledge and accept Him as Lord and Savior. The distance between where I was and where I now am is both miniscule and monumental. He bridged that gap with His saving grace.

I was born and raised in a Christian home. At least I perceived it to be a Christian home. All the right trappings were in place. My mother was the church organist and pianist for almost 40 years. My father was my Sunday school teacher, Superintendent of the Sunday school, and Clerk of Sessions. They were both members of the Mariners group and mother was active in the church’s Mission Circle. Why would I believe that my family was anything but Christian?

I seemed to be the odd ball in our family. I was smoking and drinking at an early age, my language was pitiful, I engaged in petty larceny, skipped school and even tried to hang the preacher’s son. All of that could be written off as growing up in a small town in the 1950s and 60s, but it was, and still is, a shameful past that grew even more shameful as I got older and left town for the military. When I was on my own I could do all the sinful things that I dreamed about back home. Even marriage didn’t slow me down. My self-assuming life lead to divorce. That was sort of a wake-up call, but like others that I profile in this book, the wake-up call didn’t last too long. I didn’t break every Commandment from God, but you don’t have to break too many before you find yourself in a pit of self-destruction that you are unable to extricate from on your own. How did I get out?

In the early 90s, my wife and I recognized there was an emptiness in our individual lives and our life together. We loved each other deeply, but we needed more. As we started seeking fellowship with others in our local church the void began to fill. Promise Keepers was coming into prominence in the mid-90s and some of the men from my church attended one of the venues. They returned alive with the Holy Spirit. I longed for of the excitement, energy and passion for the Lord that they shared with us. The following year, 1996, a large contingent of men attended Promise Keepers in Pittsburg. I was apprehensive and eager at the same time. I was apprehensive about showing my weakness and eager to have the Holy Spirit wash over me in a renewal baptism like none other.

What an exhilarating event it was. Fifty-thousand men gathered in one place was over whelming. Several alter calls were made the first day, but I resisted them all. I just couldn’t let my friends see that I lacked the joy of knowing Jesus as they did. However, the second day was different. My resistance weakened. I didn’t care what my friends thought, Jesus was calling me. I bound down the steps and headed for the center of that massive stadium. It was the most humbling experience of my life. I don’t know how I got there, but I found myself on my knees, pouring out my sinfulness at the foot of the cross. I felt the Holy Spirit fill me with a joy that I had never experienced before. It was the beginning of a new life, a life sustained by the Living Water of Jesus. The same struggles and temptations would be awaiting me outside that arena, but now I had the armor of God to protect me.

When I shared the experience with my father he told me something that he had kept secret for a long time. He said he hadn’t accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior until he was forty-six. All the time I was growing up I assumed he was a Christian. It was refreshing to know that I wasn’t so much of an odd ball after all. Since then I have discovered that a lot of men hadn’t accepted Christ until later in life. One of the men who attended that Promise Keepers event recently told me that he accepted Christ that day as well. You will find his story here along with many others who have been washed clean by the blood of Jesus and filled with the Holy Spirit. His name is Mike Adams.

Contrary to what Satan tried to convince me of, I was never alone in my journey to redemption. God was with me all the time. I hadn’t thought about my life as a journey, but looking back, I can see that it has been. What did the journey look like? Imagine, if you will, how an evergreen tree grows. The branches grow further from the trunk at the bottom than at the top. My journey resembles the branches on that tree. In my early years I stayed close to the trunk. At some point I began to stray and kept straying until an event got my attention and I scurried back to the trunk (my relationship with God). After a time, I would stray again, but not quite as far. Then I would recognize the error of my way and scurry back to God. The journey continues to this day, but as my faith matures and the strength of my armor increases, I drift a shorter distance from the trunk. My prayer is that God will continue to forgive me for my weaknesses and that my trunk will be straight and true when He calls me home.

I discovered that I hadn’t been alone in my journey and neither are you. God is with us always. We are His children, and, like every loving and caring father, He wants nothing more than to have us share His home. My hope is that this book might be instrumental in inspiring you to turn and seek God’s face. He loves you no matter how undeserving you consider yourself to be and He is waiting.

****

Meet Lauren Chapin

I want to introduce you to a member of my family. At least she is family in the broad context of God’s children and we are cousins through Noah, Shem, Ham, and Japheth. Her name is Lauren Chapin. I discovered that Lauren and I have more in common than just being family. Some of the commonalities are things neither of us are proud of, but they comprise what we are today so we are both happy to have taken the journey of life to its present point. We are the same age and we both grew up in an entirely different world of temptation than young people are exposed to today. That had been the perception I held for many years anyway. In 2017, I met Lauren and discovered that there was a side of her life that was impossible for me to relate to. Let me tell you about the Lauren Chapin that she shared in her testimony at the gathering where I met her.

If you don’t know Lauren Chapin, don’t feel badly. Unless you are over 60 or a fan of old television, you may never have heard of her. She was Kathy “Kitten” Anderson on the hit television show Father Knows Best of the late 1950s. The show was supposed to represent the typical family of that time and maybe it did. My family bore some resemblance to the Anderson’s. In that era, there were several television series’ that demonstrated the same close-knit family relationships that were seen every week on Father Knows Best.

I was born and raised in South Dakota, where the most trouble we ever got into was soaping windows on Halloween or stealing from the neighbor’s watermelon patch. Oh, we would sneak cigarettes from dad’s pack or find a way to get a beer or bottle of hard-stuff, but otherwise life was pretty innocent. When I joined the Army, I came face to face with a world that wasn’t part of the Sunday night TV schedule. I didn’t know racial prejudice and hatred was so prevalent in America. I also had never heard of “drugs” in the context that soldiers from California or New York talked of them. The only drugs I knew of were purchased at the pharmacy for a cold or the flu. My world was pretty small.

Lauren Chapin lived in my small world, too, at least on television. Her smiling face, freckles, and pigtails garnered a lot of young fans for the show. She was honored with 5 Junior Emmys for Best Child Actress. Her “Anderson” family life was pure joy compared to her life outside of TV. That life was anything but tranquil. The Wikipedia site for Lauren provides a glimpse into her world outside of the Anderson family.

Before, during and after Father Knows Best was in its original broadcast run, Chapin had a troubled childhood. Following the series’ cancellation in 1960, Chapin later told a reporter in a 1983 interview:

I couldn’t get a job. I’d been typecast as Kathy Anderson. The more I didn’t work, the more my mother drank and the more belligerent I became. I started running away from home. I became an incorrigible child.

Earlier, in 1981, another newspaper reported, ‘When acting roles failed to materialize, Chapin found work as a flight attendant, dog groomer, insurance claims examiner, carhop, and cocktail waitress.’

Chapin married at age 16 and was divorced at 18. (An article published January 2, 1981, in The Washington Post says that she, ‘separated from her husband within two years. They divorced five years later’). She became a drug addict, turned to prostitution to support her habit, and was sent to a psychiatric institution after she attempted suicide. In addition to using drugs, she sold them in San Francisco, California, and was arrested for forging a check in Hollywood, California. She acknowledged, ‘That was the beginning of several years in and out of jail.’

Her own Website doesn’t mention the dark side of her past, but she shares it freely through personal testimonies around the world. That is how I came to meet her. In an informal session after her presentation she gave me permission to paraphrase her testimony from a CD titled, I Want to Spend My Life Mending Broken People.

Lauren began her testimony with a challenge, “This is the day that the Lord has made, what are we going to do with it?” The audience responded, “We will rejoice and be glad in it.” Ponder that simple question and response. All that we have comes from God. He made everything we see, touch, interact with, enjoy and are blessed to use for our needs. Why wouldn’t we rejoice and be glad. But, there are people who don’t make that connection. Lauren had been one of them.

She told about the awards and accolades she had received as a child actor and that she had been named honorary mayor of three different cities in the Midwest. By her account a person might think that she was a success, but she said, “I was broken. What good is it to gain the world, yet lose your soul?”

When she began to share her testimony with the world she struggled with the Devil who was trying to dissuade her. Satan argued that people were going to see all the bad and ugly things that she had done and they would reject her. There was a scripture passage that haunted her as well. Lamentations 5:7 reads, “Our fathers sinned, and are no more; and we bear their iniquities.” That was a powerful statement to burden someone like Lauren with. She had little exposure to the New Testament so she wasn’t aware that Jesus had taken her sins to the cross at Calvary. Satan didn’t want her to be exposed either.

Lauren’s family had spent a lot of time facing away from God and she was adrift as well. Her mother and grandfather were alcoholics. Her father had molested her many times in her adolescent and teenage years. Her younger brother had molested his own daughter and he, too, was an alcoholic. Her mother committed suicide when Lauren was 21. Lauren had attempted suicide when she was 12, 15, and 21. She slit her wrists so badly that it is now difficult for her to use her hand. She felt like God had pushed her away and abandoned her.

A young woman burdened with the sins of her parents. That kind of punishment from a loving and merciful God seems so unjust, but it fit Lauren’s knowledge and awareness of God at that time. Her parents had never admitted sorrow for the way she had been treated. She said the hatred in her parent’s home was so thick, “It could be cut with a knife”. Since Lauren hadn’t been forgiven, she couldn’t forgive.

By the time she was 23 there had been two failed marriages; she had lost 8 babies; her grandmother had died and her mother had committed suicide; she had been beaten by her brother; and she had gotten into a relationship with a man who was a Satan worshiper. The man sold her into prostitution, subjected her to mental incarceration and forced her into a life of drug addiction. She had also been in and out of prison 3 times. Lauren was so far from God that she was hardly recognizable as one of His children.

At 25 her life began to turn around. In 1970, she was sentenced to a mental institution and enrolled in “The Family” program for drug users with a history of mental issues. Lauren said the program was physically and mentally exhausting. The routine forced her to focus on making it through one day at a time, which channeled her energy away from the world that had caused her to be incarcerated. While there she was befriended by someone who would have a positive impact on her life, but not right then. Of their first encounter she said, “Brother Samuel looked at me and said, ‘I know you.’” That was neither the time nor the place where she wanted to be recognized as “Kitten.” Brother Samuel went on to say, “I love you, and Jesus Christ loves you, too.” She questioned how anyone could love the despicable person she had become. Every Sunday Brother Samuel would minister to the women of the prison, and every Sunday there would be the same greeting, “Jesus Christ loves you.” It was still hard for her to believe, but the barrier of resistance was starting to wear down.

Lauren met another man during her time in the program. He was not like Brother Samuel. After graduation Lauren moved in with him and became pregnant. He returned to drugs and she was left alone and scared. Brother Samuel came to her aid. Her son Matthew was born and Lauren’s life finally began to take on meaningful form. She went to visit her mother’s gravesite for the first time. Coming to grips with the need to forgive her mother was an emotional experience. She then asked her mother to forgive her for being so bound in unforgiveness. Lauren said, “When we forgive, healing begins.” Her battles weren’t over though.

Lauren developed encephalitis and was hospitalized for two months. Her weight steadily declined to 79 pounds. A short time after recovery she developed hepatitis and was back in the hospital for several more months of surgeries and recovery.

During this time, her brother had accepted Jesus as Lord and Savior and befriended her son Matthew. He and Matthew started attending church together, but Lauren was still resisting the Holy Spirit. She returned to her boyfriend and became pregnant again. With her life falling apart at every turn, Matthew asked her to attend church with him. Matthew was five and a half at the time. Out of the mouth of babes comes the wisdom of innocence. She said, “Matthew, I am an unwed mother with two illegitimate children, I have been in prison, and have been a drug addict. How can I go into a church?” Matthew replied, “Mom, I don’t care about all of that and I don’t think God does either.” Matthew was right, God doesn’t care. She and Matthew went to church March 18, 1979. That was the first day of Lauren’s new life in Christ.

Lauren doesn’t worry about what she is revealing about herself to others. She is glad to share her testimony in the hope that someone might glean something from it. She wants others to be set free from the bondage of sin just as she has been set free.

****

There are many Bible passages about God’s command for us to forgive those who wrong us and to seek forgiveness as Lauren was finally able to do, but the parable of the unmerciful servant comes from Jesus Himself. The parable is found in Matthew 18:21-35. It is a long passage, but worthy of sharing.

Then Peter came to Jesus and asked, ‘Lord, how many times shall I forgive my brother when he sins against me? Up to seven times?’

Jesus answered, ‘I tell you, not seven times, but seventy-seven times.’

‘Therefore, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his servants. As he began the settlement, a man who owed him ten thousand talents was brought to him. Since he was not able to pay, the master ordered that he and his wife and his children and all that he had be sold to repay the debt.

‘The servant fell on his knees before him. “Be patient with me,” he begged, “and I will pay back everything.” The servants master took pity on him, canceled the debt and let him go.

‘But when that servant went out, he found one of his fellow servants who owed him a hundred denarii. He grabbed him and began to choke him. “Pay back what you owe me!” he demanded.

‘His fellow servant fell to his knees and begged him, “Be patient with me, and I will pay you back.”

‘But he refused. Instead, he went off and had the man thrown into prison until he could pay the debt. When the other servants saw what had happened, they were greatly distressed and went and told their master everything that had happened.

‘Then the master called the servant in. You wicked servant,” he said. “I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. Shouldn’t you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?” In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all that he owed.

‘This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive you brother from your heart.”

Lauren’s forgiveness was genuine and, “…from the heart.” Are there people in your life who need forgiveness? How about you? Do you need to seek forgiveness? The place to begin is at the Cross. Go before the Lord and ask Him to show you how to forgive from the heart.

Jesus said in Matthew 6:14-15, “For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.”

****

Every sinner believes that he or she is the worst wretch ever to be born and that they are not worthy to seek a place at the table with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. Nothing could be further from the truth. Brother Samuel is right, Jesus loves you. He is simply waiting for you to repent of your sinfulness, turn and seek His face and ask Him into your heart.

****

Introduction

This is not the first book that tells the story of people turning away from God and finding themselves adrift in the sea of a worldly life, or worse, ignoring His existence altogether. Throughout the Bible there are stories of how the Israelites strayed from their relationship with God many times. The end result always wound up with them coming closer to Him either through His determination to maintain the covenant He made with His chosen people, and us as well, recognizing the enduring need for Him in our lives. One of the early references of a people going adrift in the sea of this worldly life is in the book of Hosea, one of God’s prophets. Through Hosea, God appealed to the Israelites to turn from their worship of other gods and return to Him. The following is an excerpt of God’s anguish over how to reach His people through Hosea. The scripture is taken from Hosea Chapter 11 as found in the ESV.

When Israel was a child, I loved him,
and out of Egypt I called my son.
The more they were called,
the more they went away;
they kept sacrificing to the Baals
and burning offerings to idols. (Hosea 11:1-2 ESV)

My people are bent on turning away from me,
and though they call out to the Most High,
he shall not raise them up at all. (Hosea 11:7 ESV)

How can I give you up, O Ephraim?
How can I hand you over, O Israel?
How can I make you like Admah?
How can I treat you like Zeboiim?
My heart recoils within me;
my compassion grows warm and tender.
I will not execute my burning anger;
I will not again destroy Ephraim;
for I am God and not a man,
the Holy One in your midst,
and I will not come in wrath. (Hosea 11:8-9 ESV)

Can you feel God's anguish? Do you get the feeling that God is weeping as He laments to Hosea? What is God to do? The people of Israel are like little children whom we love dearly, but anguish over because of the deeds and wrong-doing that they sometimes bring to the household. Israel, the people God chose from all the nations; the people He loved above all others, ignoring His teaching, His blessings and the covenant they made with Him, to follow the ways of the pagans. This was not the first time Israel had strayed in their walk with God and God is remembering some of those prior times in the passages from Hosea. He is remembering the cities of Admah and Zeboiim, two cities in the plain near Sodom and Gomorrah, which were destroyed by angels sent from God. They were destroyed because of the sinful nature of the inhabitants. Even though God is burning with anger, just as He had done when He viewed the sinfulness in the city of Sodom, He remembers His covenant promise to Abraham and will not release His vengeance on Israel again. God honors His covenant even when we don't. God is the true parent. He loves His children far more than He hates their wrongdoing.

****

Although the Israelites continued to drift from God and pursue their evil worldly desires, God remained close to them and shielded them from complete destruction. When their oppressors were tormenting and enslaving them they called out to God and He heard their prayers and restored their lands. Isn’t that in itself an amazing story? God was determined to observe the covenant He made with Abraham, which He renewed through King David, and finally passed to all generations through His Son, Christ Jesus. The covenant is real. All He asks is that we follow Him, do His Will on earth, and Love and honor Him above all other gods with all our heart, mind, and soul. But, even if we fail in that request or falter after making our commitment to Him, He will always be faithful to us.

****

One of the more beautiful examples of how people have tried to run away from God only to run into Him face to face is the story of Jonah. Jonah quite literally was adrift at sea when God rescued him. This is a compelling story of how, try as we might, we cannot drift far from the presence of God. Jonah's story begins with God challenging him to be a messenger to a people who have been even more defiant than the Israelites cited in the passages from Hosea. These are not nice people that God wants Jonah to confront and convince that they need to repent. The writer states, “Now the word of the LORD came to Jonah the son of Amittai, saying, ‘Arise, go to Nineveh, that great city, and call out against it, for their evil has come up before me.’ But Jonah rose to flee to Tarshish from the presence of the LORD” (Jonah 1:1-3 ESV).

Tarshish was near the south coast of modern-day Spain in the area of Gibraltar. In Jonah's day, that was the end of the world. Can you relate to Jonah’s response? God wanted him to go to one of the greatest cities of that time, and one of the most sinful as well - alone - to preach against their sinfulness. Jonah was determined not to play a role in that plan. Nineveh was at the site of present-day Mosul in Iraq. How would you respond to God's call to witness for Christ in Mosul today? It seems natural that most people would respond in a manner similar to Jonah.

Have you ever tried to flee from God’s calling? I have. But, since God is omnipresent, there was no place to go where He was not with me. He didn’t have to send out a search party for me because He was always beside me. I recall one particular time when I was working in Kazakhstan. My co-workers and I were returning to our hotel after a wonderful evening of dining and fellowship when we passed a beggar on the street. I had seen the woman from a distance and knew that she was genuinely in need. Both feet were badly deformed and she could only walk on her heels. She was frail, hungry, and desperate. When our eyes met I was overcome with a most uncomfortable feeling. I hurried by so I could put her out of my mind, but God wasn't going to let me go so easily. The further away I got the more convicted I became to do something to help her. I made my way back to her faster than I had left her to be sure she would still be there. She was. Our eyes locked again and I prayed that God would strengthen me to witness and minister to her. I believe that even though we didn't speak the same language, she understood what I said and she gratefully accepted all the money I had at the time, which was equivalent to a month's earnings in her country. The next day I went back to spend some time with her, but she was gone. Although I didn’t see her again, I am thankful that God caused our paths to cross and that He gave me a second chance to be with her on that first day. I had been drifting and God sent one of His angels to bring me back to Him.


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