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A Wisdom Retreat - June 30

The Gospel Is Thick Ice

1 John 5:13
These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, so that you may know that you have eternal life.

It was one of those bitter nineteenth-century winters. Sam and Bessie lived on the west bank of a wide river that had to be crossed by rowboat in mild seasons, and by foot or wagon in the winter. Across the half-mile river was a small trading post that served as a general store, selling groceries, medicines, and hardware items.

This particular winter Sam and Bessie briefly extended the hospitality of their cabin to a traveler in need. Little did they know that their visitor left behind an unwelcome gift—a highly contagious disease. In a matter of weeks Bessie was terribly ill. Sam recognized the symptoms and knew that his wife needed medicine available to him only at the trading post.

It was early winter, nights were cold, and although the river lay frozen, Sam was sure that the ice was neither thick enough to support his weight, nor thin enough for his boat to break through. He dearly loved Bessie and determined that he would rather die crossing the river than lose her to the fever. He kissed her, assuring her that he would be back soon, and made his way to the river bank.

Pushing a large plank of wood in front of him, he stretched out his body and began to crawl upon the ice. Slowly and cautiously he inched his way across the ice, praying as he slid the plank before him. All was silent on that great expanse for the first twenty minutes; then the ice began to groan. He scooted ever so gently forward, only to be welcomed by a more insistent creaking.

Sam had just breathed a quick prayer when the groaning became a roar, followed by a terrible crashing sound—the ice was breaking up! He squeezed his eyes shut, bracing for the worst. Nothing happened.

Turning in the direction of the loudest sound, he saw a man driving a wagon pulled by a team of horses, crossing the river 100 yards from where he lay. The horses galloped past him, up the other bank, and stopped in front of the trading post. Sam leaped to his feet, threw his arms into the air, and shouted, "Hallelujah!" He ran across the ice to the store, purchased the medicine, hitched a ride back on the wagon, and raced home to minister to his sick wife.

His fear turned to confidence; his crawling gave way to running; his praying turned to shouts of joy. What was once a weak belief that the ice could hold him was transformed into a confident assurance that it would hold him!

My friend, this is what our faith in God should be like. Listen to the voice of John, the beloved disciple of Christ, as it echoes across the centuries: "Hey believer! I wrote these things so that you can know that you have eternal life!"

The gospel of Christ is not a thin sheet of ice under us, tenuously holding our weight as we desperately pray—it is rock-solid substance we can run, jump, and build our lives upon. The good news of Christ eliminates the fearful crawl and replaces it with a confident walk—sometimes even a leap or two . . . for joy!

Prayer Point: Thank the Lord for the assurance you have of salvation—not because of anything you've done to deserve assurance, but because of Christ's rock-solid promises.

Extra Refreshment: Read 1 John 5 and underline the promises of assurance, writing your own name in the margin of your Bible.

Many ministries today expound on life and illustrate with Scripture;
we’re committed to expounding on Scripture and illustrating with life!

Originally published June 30, 2020.