February 20, 2020
Volume 24, Number 7
A man in England was recently walking his dog on the beach when he came across a bottle that had washed ashore. Inside was a message from 1938 from John Stapleford, asking whoever found the bottle to write to him in Hertfordshire, England. Attempts to locate this man have so far come up empty. He once lived at the address given, but no one knows where he might be now, or whether he is still alive after 82 years.
There’s something romantic about the idea of a message in a bottle. It’s like the old adage “casting fate to the wind”; who knows where it will end up as unpredictable ocean currents carry it afar? A movie in 1999 starring Kevin Costner and Paul Newman was based on a message found in a bottle. It was, as we say, a “tear-jerker” of a movie.
The scientific community put messages in “bottles” and sent them out. The most famous example was in 1977 when messages were placed aboard the spacecraft Voyagers 1 and 2. These messages included writings, recordings, and photographs to show whoever / whatever discovers them what life on Earth is like. Those Voyagers entered interstellar space in the last decade and continue to send signals and information back to earth. But will anyone ever find these “bottles”?
What about us? Do we fling our messages out into the sea of space, hoping for an answer of hope? We call these messages “prayers”, and we long for God to find them.
In Psalm 13:1 David spoke as one whose bottle had not been discovered: “How long, O Lord? Will You forget me forever? How long will You hide Your face from me?” Had God actually forgotten His servant? Or was that just how David felt? Four verses later David reminded himself of God’s faithfulness: “But I have trusted in Your mercy; my heart shall rejoice in Your salvation” (Psalm 13:4). Feelings don’t always reflect reality.
Will God hear my prayer? John gives assurance to all who are Christ’s followers: “Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14). Note that John said God “hears us” – not that He will give us what we ask. Even Jesus, God’s Son, had that experience in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Hebrews 5:7). But God absolutely will hear His people’s prayers.
Praying to God is not at all like putting a bottled message into the ocean, hoping that someone will one day find it. Jesus made this promise to all His disciples: “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask Him” (Matthew 7:11).
1 Peter 5:6,7 instructs us to humble ourselves before God. And then this is added: “Casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” That’s why we pray – God cares about us! He will find our bottle every time.
Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.
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Copyright, 2020, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).
“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.
Permission to reproduce and/or use the messages for noncommercial purposes is freely granted provided the messages are not altered.