Isaiah, Homer, Percy Jackson and Me

The Way Forward sign in the sky

The title of this devotion sounds like the first line of a really bad joke. Let me attempt to connect what may seem like random dots.

Let’s start with Homer (not The Simpson’s icon), the ancient Greek Poet. This is the guy who is famous for writing “epic” poems.  His most famous works are the Iliad and the Odyssey, which tell the heroic tales of Odysseus, in The Trojan War, and his perilous journey home, where he must overcome a series of obstacles to survive. If you aren’t familiar with these poems, maybe you or the youth you work with are familiar with Percy Jackson. The Percy Jackson series basically combines ancient Greek myths and modern culture. In both the Odyssey and Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters, the heroes encounter Scylla and Charybdis, and must sail between them with out dying. Basically they are facing two difficult potions (they are stuck between and rock and a hard place).

You work in youth ministry, which means, you know what this feels like, or you will at some point. It seems like no matter which thing you choose, the outcome is not good. Odysseus chose to sail closer to Scylla, and six of his crew were eaten, a similar thing happens to Percy’s ship. Let’s face it, being a Christian means we often find ourselves between two things we don’t really want to choose between. The students we minister to, their parents, and our communities do as well. So what do we do when we find ourselves stuck between a rock and hard place?

Let’s go to Isaiah 43:1-7 (The MSG).

1-4 But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

5-7 “So don’t be afraid: I’m with you.
    I’ll round up all your scattered children,
    pull them in from east and west.
I’ll send orders north and south:
    ‘Send them back.
Return my sons from distant lands,
    my daughters from faraway places.
I want them back, every last one who bears my name,
    every man, woman, and child
Whom I created for my glory,
    yes, personally formed and made each one.’”

Did you see the answer? We are to turn to God, who is right there, ready and willing to help.

When we are in over our heads, God is with us, and will make sure that the rock and hard place is not a dead end. We will still have to make difficult choices, and it may seem that both options are bad, we can find hope and comfort in our God who made the most difficult choice on behalf of all of humanity. In John 16:33, Jesus reminds his disciples and us, that we will face difficulty in the world. We are not to fear, we are to trust in God, knowing that God loves us, is always with us, will never leave us and can make a way when there is no way.


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