1988 in Ontario, Canada, two friends named Janelle and Karen
were enjoying a camping trip just off the Welland River,
which is a tributary of the Niagara River. Only a week
earlier, Janelle had purchased a boat, which they brought
along on their camping trip. They decided to take the
boat out for a spin. They spent the afternoon on the
boat. Much of their time was spent with the engine
off, basking in the warm sun, drifting along in the river.
When evening came, they watched the sun go down. Then,
they proceeded to boat back to their camp. However,
they became disoriented in the dark and lost their bearings
as they were looking for a certain canal which would lead
them back to the Welland River. Sheila and Tom Hodges
were traveling by car along the river above Niagara Falls.
They happened to see a small boat traveling toward the
falls. From the road, they sensed that something was
wrong. The two women in the boat were approaching the
control gates that regulate the flow of water to the falls,
about a mile upstream from the falls. These gates are
often called "the point of no return," because any boat or
person caught in the current beyond them will be carried
right over the falls. The two women on the boat had mistaken
the gates for the canal that led back to the Welland river.
So, rather than traveling back to the Welland River, they
ended up going right through the control gates and into "the
point of no return." Tom ran to find help and finally
called 911 while Shiela watched the two women thinking: “I
really had little hope that they would be saved. I
just kept imagining what that would feel like ... being at
the brink and knowing ... knowing you're gone."
Quickly after Tom's call, rescue workers arrived at the
scene. They used their flashlights out and spotted the
women about 500 yards from the falls. At this point,
they were out of the boat, drifting toward their certain
death. Karen began to swim toward the light and was
making some headway swimming sideways as the current was
taking her downstream. When the rescue workers saw
what was happening, they screamed, "Keep swimming. Keep
swimming! Keep swimming!" Eventually, she was able to grab a
rope near the retaining wall, and was lifted up about 20
feet out of the water and pulled to safety. When
pulled from the water, she had a deep gash in her leg from
the boat's propeller and was in shock, but she was safe.
Janelle was assumed to have been dead. But,
firefighters from the Niagara Falls Fire Department had
joined in the search for her. The captain of the
department had instructed the workers to take a drive down
the river to see what they could see. When they
stopped, they could hear Janelle screaming. She was
about 350 yards from the falls, exhausted and unable to
swim. So, a rescue worker tied a rope around his waist
and swam out to rescue her. Unbelievably, Janelle was
unharmed. Thirty seconds after Janelle was saved, the
boat reached the edge of the falls and went over. This
story had a happy ending, but losing one's bearings can
prove fatal (Brandon). As our high school Seniors get
ready to launch out into the world, there are seven passages
in the NT that have the verb “to bear” meaning “to carry or
to endure.” Young people, keep these bearings in mind,
and they will help you to navigate safely through life and
keep you from going over the edge.
The first passage is Luke 14:27: “And whoever does not bear
his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple.”
You must bear your cross. That cross can differ for
different Christians. Paul's cross were fanatical
Jews, and Gaius cross was a fanatical church leader named
Diotrephes (3 John). Your cross will be whoever
opposes you for your Christian faith. Bearing a cross
is not easy; it takes diligence, discipline, and duty.
Bearing a cross is personal. “Must Jesus bear the
cross alone, and all the world go free? No, there's a
cross for everyone, and there's a cross for me” (Shepherd).
Bear the cross!
The next passage is Acts 9:15: “But the Lord said to him:
'Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name
before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.”
You must bear Jesus' name before others. The apostle
Paul was to bear Jesus' name, as His ambassador, before the
Gentiles, before kings and rulers, and before Jewish
religious leaders. When you bear Jesus' name before
others, who and how many will you touch? According to
the Great Commission, it's the duty of all Christians to
share Jesus with others (Mt. 28:19-20). How well do
you know Jesus? Do you see Him as a liar, a legend, a
lunatic, or as the Lord, the promised Messiah? He is
more than a man for He has all authority (Mt. 28:18)!
He is not a god, but the Son of God who offers salvation to
all: “Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no
other name under heaven given among men by which we must be
saved” (Acts 4:12)! Bear His name before others!
The next passage is Romans 15:1-2: “We then who are strong
ought to bear with the scruples or frailties of the weak,
and not to please ourselves. Let each of us please his
neighbor for his good, leading to edification” (Romans
15:1-2). Bear the frailties of weaker members.
The context here is talking about certain foods. Since
God has created all foods, none were considered unclean
under the New Testament. This was no problem for the
Gentiles, but it continued to a problem for Jewish
Christians. The Gentile Christians in Rome were not to
eat food that might cause a Jewish brother to be offended.
They were to bear the frailties of their weaker Jewish
brethren. Likewise, Jesus bore the frailties of all
His disciples when they abandoned Him before His
crucifixion. In fact, Jesus forgave all of them for
their weakness. Bear the frailties of weak members as
you work together to build a common life of praise, worship,
obedience, and devotion to God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit!
The next passage is 1 Corinthians 10:13: “No temptation has
overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is
faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what
you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way
of escape, that you may be able to endure it” (1 Corinthians
10:13). Bear temptations with open eyes! This is one
of the greatest promises in the New Testament! When
Satan tempts you, you can tap into God's help. He is
going to provide you a way of escape. The way of
escape for Joseph was to run from the scene. The way
of escape for Job was to pray. The way of escape for
Jesus was quoting the Scriptures. The way of escape for the
apostles in Jerusalem was to delegate the job of feeding
widows to others. The way of escape for Philemon was
forgiveness. Don't have passive eyes, but have active
eyes that look for God's escape route. Bear
temptations with open eyes!
The next passage is Galatians 6:2: “Bear one another's
burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” Bear other
members' burdens (Galatians 6:2)! All experience the
burdens of trials, sorrows, weaknesses, and infirmities.
Jesus has helped each of us to bear our burdens, so we
should be willing to help other brethren who may be weighed
down. Doesn't John 13:34 encourage us to love other members
as Jesus has loved us? As you help others to bear
their burdens, you learn that the Christian life is not
about “me”; it's about “us”! Bear other members'
The next passage is Galatians 6:17: “From now on, let no one
trouble me, for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord
Jesus.” Bear the marks of the Lord in your body (Galatians
6:17)! The apostle Paul was stoned, beaten, and
imprisoned for Jesus' sake. Whatever type of
persecution our culture will throw at you, be willing to
suffer to Christ's and righteousness' sake! Make up
your mind that you will bear the consequences of whatever
that suffering might entail. Bear the marks of
the Lord in your body or in whatever way you might have to
The next passage is Ephesians 6:14-17: “Stand therefore,
having girded your waist with truth, having put on the
breastplate of righteousness, and having shod your feet with
the preparation of the gospel of peace; above all, taking
the shield of faith with which you will be able to
quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. And take
the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which
is the word of God.” Bear God's armor. Bear
truth! There is a truth that is divine, absolute, and
for all cultures. This is the truth that Jesus said
would make people free from sin, traditions, and death (John
8:32). Bear righteousness! We do that by
imitating Jesus: “He who practices righteousness is
righteous, just as He [Jesus] is righteous” (1 John 3:7).
If you do not bear breastplate of righteousness, soon a
hole will develop in your armor that is supposed to cover
your vital organs. Bear the gospel of peace! You
have a divine knowledge that can give people peace in their
lives. Advance, march forward, and share the knowledge
confidently with others! Bear the helmet of salvation!
You can hold up our heads with assurance because you have
experience Jesus' past salvation, and you look forward to
His future salvation when heaven will begin. Bear the
sword of the Spirit! The Word of God is our offensive
weapon. It is powerful and can still transform
people's lives (Hebrews 4:12)! The struggle between
God and Satan is very real. Bear God's armor to
When William Borden graduated from a Chicago high school in
1904, he was heir to the Borden Dairy estate, which made him
a millionaire. For his graduation present, his parents
gave him a trip around the world. As the young man
traveled through Asia, the Middle East, and Europe, he felt
a growing burden for the world’s hurting people.
Finally, Borden wrote home to say, “I’m going to give my
life to prepare for the mission field.” At the same
time, he wrote two words in the back of his Bible: “No
During his college years at Yale University, Borden became a
pillar in the Christian community. One entry in his personal
journal that defined the source of his spiritual strength
simply said, “Say no to self and yes to Jesus every time.”
During his first semester at Yale, Borden started a small
prayer group that mushroomed into a movement that spread
across the campus. By the end of his first year, 150
freshmen were meeting for weekly Bible study and prayer. By
the time Bill Borden was a senior, one thousand of Yale’s
thirteen hundred students were meeting in such groups.
Borden met with fellow Christians to make sure every student
on campus heard the gospel. Often he ministered to the
poor in the streets of New Haven. But his real passion
was missions, and he focused on China.
Upon graduation from Yale, Borden wrote two more words in
the back of his Bible: “No retreats.” He turned down
several high-paying job offers and enrolled in seminary.
After graduating, he went to Egypt to learn Arabic so he
could work with Muslims in China. While in Egypt,
Borden came down with spinal meningitis. Within a month, he
was dead at age 25.
Prior to his death, Borden wrote two more words in his
Bible. Underneath the words “No reserves” and “No
retreats,” he wrote, “No regrets.” Borden had kept his
bearings despite his short life.
Keep your bearings: bear your cross, bear Christ's name
before others, bear weaker members' frailties, bear
temptation with open eyes, bear other members' burdens, bear
Christ's marks of persecution, and bear God's armor.
If you do this, you'll keep from going over the edge, and
you'll live too with no reserves, no retreats, and no