Some of my favorite stories from Scripture come from the disciples when they are out on the seas with Jesus. Rare are the moments where there is peace and quiet. There is chaos. There is stress. There is uncomfortability. Jesus may be restful. Jesus may be walking on the water. Jesus may be instructing the wind and the waves and the fishermen but rarely do we see the disciples enjoying those moments.
In one particular sea story the disciples are freaking out and they cry out, “Jesus, do you not care?” Whoa! A big question. A gutsy in your face moment of questioning whether their Lord and Savior cares about their lives. Dare I say that we have all asked that kind of question? In the midst of our chaotic lives and world we too wonder where Jesus is in the midst of it all. All too often it seems God is silent or that God has simply gone away and left us to figure it out on our own. And yes that is one of those lies that we tell ourselves.
In the midst of our storms Jesus speaks a word of loving support, “Peace Be Still!” I think he speaks these words not just to the winds and the waves but to each of our souls. We need peace. We need centeredness. We need comfort in the midst of unruly chaos. Jesus is saying, “Don’t let fear paralyze and rule your life.” “Trust that I am in the midst of your storm!”
You see peace isn’t simply meant to be something that we experience as a feeling. Peace is not a passive emotive response to an impending disaster. Peace for Jesus is a relationship. Jesus is saying, “trust me.” Whatever you are going through, “trust me.” Whatever storm is reigning down, “trust me.” Whatever fear you are facing, “trust me.” Jesus is not saying just have a little faith or grow up and get over your fears. He does say over and over and over, “trust me!”
Where is our faith? I think we ultimately know it is not in things. It is not in the stuff we fill our lives with. It is not foundin the principalities and powers of this world. Our faith, our trust, is in a Lord and Savior named Jesus. Jesus, “I trust you.” Jesus, “I trust you.” Jesus, “I trust you.”
This is deeply profound to consider. We are told repeatedly by this world that we are good enough, smart enough, wealthy enough, and that we can take on any storm of life if we just have enough belief in ourselves. Not true. We are not made to do life alone. We are not outfitted to stand in isolation within the storms of life. We are made to do life together. We are made to see Jesus active in each other’s lives and while doing so able to put our trust into one another. The Jesus community, the church, is a living embodiment of that trusting relationship in Jesus and in each other. Yes Jesus holds the past present and future. YesJesus is the Alpha and the Omega, our beginning and end. YesJesus is right here and right now within us and drawing out into the winds and waves as we take of the storms of life together. Trust in Jesus. Trust in each other. What a gift!
A great story of how a person’s life was transformed due to that trusting relationship was between Lt. Dan and Forrest Gump. Lt. Dan was literally saved by Forrest. A bomb destroyed his legs and Forrest carried him out of battle. While life got increasingly difficult for LT. Dan for many years after that, Forrest and he matched up to start up Bubba Gump’s shrimp. There is a scene from that movie where Lt. Dan and Forrest were out on the seas. Lt Dan asked Forrest where this God of his was. Immediately the winds and the waves picked up and tossed their boat about. Lt. Dan, instead of hunkering down in fear, was up in the crows nest yelling out to God, “is that all you got – nothing will destroy this boat.” They survived the night. The rest of the shipping vessels were destroyed. Many during the storm sat idly in the marina and were crushed between the waves and the land. Others sank to the bottom of the ocean. Forrest and Lt. Dan in faith rode the high seas and survived. That night of the storm, Lt. Dan had some of his faith restored. Afterwards he experienced a peace that he had not felt in a very long time. Forrest and Lt. Dan went full tilt into catching as much shrimp as they could.
Sometimes we have a spirit that is filled with fear and timidity. Other times our spirits may cry out in reckless abandon. Both are normal responses to the storms of life. Our challenge during all times is to lean into our relationships with Jesus and one another.
I have been changed by this Jesus. Along the journey I have not always received the answers or outcomes that I wanted. That is so often the case! I remember well back in 1997 when my mom was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Almost immediately we were thrown into a storm that we did not see coming. One day she was out living her life to the full and the next she was on an operating table with a stage four cancerous brain tumor. The next day she was told she had six months to live. She fought the good fight. We prayed mightily for healing and hope. She went to speech therapy to regain her voice. She took the chemo and radiation. She was riding the waves of the storm. Seven months later, we knew full well, that our boat was being swamped. We cried out, “Jesus don’t you care?” Through community, through Jesus relationships, through the church, we began to hear our prayers anew. You see we prayed, “God save our mom, God heal my mom, God give our mom her life back.” God was doing that – not how we had hoped – but our prayers were being answered. Mom’s life was resting in the peace that surpasses all human understanding. God was going to do God’s greatest work in raising her up. Exactly ten months after her surgery – and just 15 days after our wedding – my mom passed on to the heavens. A dear high school friend of mine – who lives in Montana - came to the memorial service. I was able to say hi to him before the service but missed out on saying goodbye. As we closed up the church and began to head home, I opened the door to my old Pathfinder and there on the driver’s seat was a quilt that had he left for me. On a crumpeled up envelope he had written the words, “the storm is over, it’s time to look for the rainbows.”
Church……that right there was a gift of peace. Yes Jesus, you are in the midst of all of this. You promise to never leave or forsake us. You have given us each other – the church – to do the good and necessary work that needs to be done – building trusting relationships where we truly can put our trust into one another all while putting our ultimate trust in Jesus. What a beautiful vision of peace and hope!
Now if you have forgotten all that you have read above, remember this. I think Bob Marley stole these words from Jesus when he wrote the song: “Don’t worry, about a thing, because every little thing is gonna be alright!” Yes, yes it is! That is a Jesus promise! We are counting on Jesus and Jesus is counting on us!