O Shenandoah! By Faith Alone
roseO Shenandoah! By Faith Alone

By Eunice Soper

"God hath not given us the spirit of fear;
but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind."

2 Timothy 1:7

"The Devil's Favorite Tool"

One time, so a legend goes, the devil decided to retire. All the tools of his trade were put up for sale. Each one was tagged with a price. Envy, strife, hatred, jealousy -- all were there. But the largest price tag was on a small tool.

"What is that?" asked a customer.

"Why, that's my favorite tool," remarked the devil. "I have had better success with it than any other. You can use it and your victim doesn't realize what is happening. It's called discouragement."

Discouragement does indeed come of the devil. It is not of God's making, for discouragement is born of fear -- fear of failure, fear of what people will say, fear of not doing our best. And God does not give fear. Fear does not belong to Him.

God gives the antidote for discouragement -- power, love, and a sound mind. Any one of these will enable a person to overcome temptations and succeed in difficult times. If we have power -- and we may have the power of God, if we but ask for it -- we have the very basis of success. If we have love, we are not likely to become discouraged, for "there is no fear in love" (1 John 4:18), and without fear there is no discouragement. And a sound mind will enable us to think our way clearly through trying circumstances.

If you are discouraged, turn to Jesus. He will help you overcome. He has helped many others, and He will help you too.

"On the Way to Rome"

Paul the apostle was on his way to Rome. He was being sent there to appear before Caesar to plead his case, for the Jews had accused him of crimes that demanded the penalty of death. As a Roman citizen he had the privilege of appearing before Caesar.

But the way things looked at the passing moment, he would never arrive in Rome -- or anywhere else for that matter. It had been rather late in the season when Paul and some other prisoners, in charge of a centurion named Julius, left by ship for Rome. The season of storms was perilously near at hand. Almost from the time they left port the ship had been buffeted by contrary winds. After much delay they finally reached Fair Havens. Paul recommended to the captain that they stay there, for he knew how rough those seas were in the winter. But since Fair Havens was not a good winter port, the captain decided to go on. Just off the shores of Crete a northeaster struck them.

For days the men battled the winds and high seas, doing everything they could to help matters. Finally Paul went among the men and spoke to them. "Keep up your spirits," he said. "Not a single life is going to be lost on this ship, although we are going to have to run this vessel aground somewhere. An angel stood beside me during the night and told me these things, and I believe in God and am sure everything will happen as I have been told."

After fourteen days, with the ship now drifting helplessly, the sailors found after sounding that they were getting closer and closer to land. They now secretly planned to desert the ship, but Paul told the centurion and the soldiers, "Unless these men stay aboard, there is no hope of their being saved." The sailors had already launched a boat, but when the soldiers heard what Paul said, they cut the ropes of the boat and dropped it into the water. Instead of deserting, the sailors threw out anchors to hold the boat until daybreak.

Again Paul spoke to the men. "You men are hungry," he said. "You haven't eaten much for nearly two weeks. Now, get something to eat, I beg you, for you need it." And finding some bread, he asked God's blessing on it and passed it out among the hungry men. As they ate, they began to gain courage. In order to lighten the ship they threw some grain overboard. At daybreak, they cut away the anchors and tried to run the ship ashore. However, the ship stuck on a sandbar. Remembering Paul's reassurance that none would be lost, the centurion advised all who could to swim ashore, and those who could not swim to get on planks from the wreckage of the ship. For a while all was confusion and fear, but finally when a count was made on shore, all were there. Not a soul had been lost, as Paul had predicted. They had all been saved because he had given them comfort through his courageous actions, his sensible advice, and his trust in God.

Widely varied in size and structure, picturesque houses of worship cling throughout generations to the Valley's hills and hollers. There's an echo of faith in everyday conversation and an ancient devotion steels Shenandoah residents in courage, humor and grace as they struggle with weather-related and man-made catastrophes.

Eunice Soper has written many devotional books, mostly for children. Semi-retired from professional service worldwide for the Seventh Day Adventist Church, she and her husband, Francis, radiate peace, strength and practical good-heartedness from their adopted home in the central Shenandoah Valley.

"Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid...;
he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee."

Deuteronomy 31:6

Word Preserve -- O Shenandoah! Country Rag Index

"The Devil's Favorite Tool" and "On the Way to Rome" Eunice Soper, 1997. All rights reserved.