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Always Holding Someone Up





If a man die, shall he live again? all the days of my appointed time will I wait, till my change come. Job 14:14 KJV


The news of Dawson Trotman’s death swept like a cold wind across Schroon Lake. Eyewitnesses tell of the profound anxiety, tears, and helpless disbelief in the faces of those who now looked out across the waters of this small hamlet in Upstate New York. Lila Trotman, Dawson’s wife rushed to the shoreline. As she approached the scene a close friend shouted, “Oh, Lila ... he’s gone, Dawson’s gone!” Lila replied with a calm assurance that astounded those standing there that day. Quoting Psalm 115:3 she replied, “Our God is in the heavens; He does whatever He pleases.”

Dawson Trotman, a young California lumberyard worker, began teaching the Bible to high school students in the 1930’s. After seeing the effectiveness of discipleship Trotman began meeting with a young sailor named Les Spencer. Eventually, Les brought a fellow sailor to Dawson and asked him to teach him, “the things you have taught me.” Troutman looked at Spencer and simply responded, “You do It.” Within months 125 men were studying the Bible aboard the USS West Virginia. What began with a simple one-on-one teaching method became one of the most effective evangelical ministries of the last century. In 1933 Dawson established the Navigators which grew into a world-wide organization. His life’s work ended abruptly on June 18th, 1956, while attempting to rescue a girl from drowning. The headline in a national periodical simply read, Dawson Trotman, always holding someone up.

            In times of deep grief, our natural reaction is to be overwhelmed. Emotional shock is our normal response. No doubt Lila’s heart was broken, and yet, her faith held fast. Times of tragedy do not forge character they reveal it. For those who walk with Christ in daily fellowship a heavenly viewpoint becomes their default. They have learned that He makes no mistakes. Heart-rending moments bend but do not break them. To live in the supernatural power of God doesn’t exclude us from tragedy but it does give us a hope that cannot be explained in the crucible of heartache. In those moments, God is near, and He gives the strength and comfort needed to endure and ultimately triumph. Those who experience calm amid the storms of life have discovered a secret that most of us yearn to possess. God is in control, not us.

            Our lives are in the hand of God. He determines the length and breadth of the years he has given. He chooses our final day and the circumstances around it. We can do nothing to alter that truth. It does us no good to wring our hands or place guardrails at every turn in life. This is also true of those whom we love. Perhaps we fear their demise in a greater sense than our own. As the waters of Schroon Lake filled Dawson’s lungs, his dear wife Lila clung to the belief that God does all things well. Jesus has numbered our days and our lives are best spent living in dependance to him.


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