We had heard of the Jimmy Newell Harbour, and once we had entered the Torndirrup National Park near the town of Albany, Western Australia, we set out to look for it. From the name alone, I was anticipating at the least a dock and some boats, and maybe even a little fishing town. You can imagine my surprise when our route took us to a nearby lookout from where we could see a little ocean inlet 95 metres below. The view was impressive, for the seas had dug out a gap that was some 120 metres deep, 400 metres long and 150 metres wide; but was this the Jimmy Newell Harbour? How could they call it a harbour at all? And why the strange name?

Further research revealed that there had historically been two Jimmy Newells in the area. Both were convicts, some of the many thousands that were taken to Australia to serve their time, and we do not know which of the Jimmy Newells received the honour of having an ocean inlet named after him. What was considered to be the more likely story, however, was showcased by a nearby information panel...

This Jimmy Newell had been brought to the prison near Albany in 1826, where he had apparently served his time and was then released. As many of the ex-convicts did, he stayed in Australia, and his wife and most of his children joined him around 1832. He then remained in the area, burning lime and augmenting his meager income by hunting mutton-birds and seals.

As the story goes, Jimmy was out in his fishing boat one day when he was caught up in an unexpected storm. Fortunately for him, he was driven into the ocean inlet that now bears his name, and in the shelter of this natural haven, his life was saved.

Does this story sound familiar to anyone? Just like Jimmy, the storms of life also take us unawares. Sometimes these storms are so violent that we wonder if we will survive the onslaughts of cancer or other life-taking illnesses; we fear that we might not make it through the job loss without having to give up our homes, our cars, our dreams; we worry that we will not be able to endure that breakup of our family...

The good news is that just as Jimmy was driven into a safe haven to wait out the foaming waters and roaring waves, we also have a safe haven, Jesus Christ.

Consider the following texts:

"The Lord is my shepherd; I have all that I need. He lets me rest in green meadows; he leads me beside peaceful streams." (Ps. 23:1-2 NLT)

"God is our refuge and strength, always ready to help in times of trouble. So we will not fear when earthquakes come and the mountains crumble into the sea. Let the oceans roar and foam. Let the mountains tremble as the waters surge!" (Ps. 46:1-3 NLT)

I could list many more, for the Bible is full of such promises; but wait. Why should so much fuss be made over--an ex-convict? Shouldn't he have merited the stormy sea?

I hear this question often as well from the mouths of those who are going through serious trials: Why would God care about me? I've done so much wrong! We are, after all, all sinners (See Rom. 3:23), we all warrant death. Why would we merit the refuge God provides us?

The answer is that we don't merit it, for we truly aren't good enough of our own; nonetheless, God reaches out to give shelter us shelter anyway. That's how much He loves us! Didn't He prove His love for us at the cross of Jesus Christ? Doesn't the fact that Jesus was willing to suffer and die a cruel death prove beyond a doubt that God loves us eternally, perfectly and without hesitation?

By human standards, Jimmy may not have merited being saved from that storm; and neither do we merit the shelter God provides for us during the storms of our lives. Nonetheless, just as the Jimmy Newell Harbour proved to be the salvation of that ex-convict, the love and grace of our Lord Jesus Christ is not only the salvation of mankind, but also the door to Him being our shelter amidst the storms of life:

"Those who live in the shelter of the Most High will find rest in the shadow of the Almighty. This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him. For he will rescue you from every trap and protect you from deadly disease. He will cover you with his feathers. He will shelter you with his wings. His faithful promises are your armor and protection." (Ps. 91:1-4 NLT).

Our worthiness is not important, for God offers to be our shelter in the trying times, no matter what. That's how much He loves us! Our job is simply to accept Jesus' Salvation, and then to accept the shelter God provides so freely to those who believe in Him.

In His love,
Lyn


Lynona Gordon Chaffart, Speech-Language Pathologist, mother of two, Author -- "Aboard God's Train -- A Journey With God Through the Valley of Cancer", Author and Moderator for The Nugget, a tri-weekly internet newsletter, and Scriptural Nuggets, a website devoted to Christian devotionals and inspirational poems, with Answers2Prayer Ministries. Follow Lyn on Twitter @lynchaffart.