Capsized

This is not like walking on water. Peter asked to come. He chose to step out of the boat. Not me. I was on a journey only to find my boat capsized and my survival instinct fighting its way to the surface.” (from Just Adela)

Capsized.

Upset.

Overturned.

Upended and careening.

All leading to this spinning wildly out-of-control.

One minute life is going along fine; all is smooth sailing. With the suddenness of one phone call, disaster hits. Storms of gale force strength unexpectedly spring up, overturning our boat, sending us careening headfirst into disproportionately large and terrifying waves.

Engulfed and enraged, we cry out in panic.

“I didn’t ask for this!” our terrified hearts argue.

Oh, I saw you walking on the water, Lord, but unlike Peter, I am content to watch from the safety of this boat. I’m okay to just go along for the ride. I don’t want to get my feet wet. I don’t want to struggle against drowning in this ocean of hurt surrounding me. These swelling seas threatening to swallow me alive.

But here we are nonetheless.

Flailing to rise above the surface in this ocean of sorrow.

And though we can see the Savior’s face beckoning us through the waves, He seems so far from reach.

Sinking. Sinking. Slowly slipping further and further beneath the surface of this suffocating grief. Wishing to simply fade away with the next wave, yet still instinctively fighting for survival.

Overwhelmed, yet not quite willing to be overcome completely.

Holding out for a glimmer of hope.

Holding onto the promise that is Christ.

Trusting beyond what our finite strength seems capable of owning. Uncertain and questioning. But believing still.

Here. In this chaos where all seems lost and hopeless.

It is here, in the very powerlessness of me, that I am rescued by the Divine.

Pulled from the waves to walk with You. Tucked once more in the safety of Your embrace.

Rescued and raised to live beside You in this moment of hurt as You bear the brunt of this raging storm.

Unhindered by the howling winds. Undaunted by the desperate child clinging so tightly to You.

You stand victorious.

Secure.

Shielding and sheltering the one who trusts in You with such miniscule faith.

Constantly, forever enough.

Here, in this ocean to which You have called me.

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Rippled Pages, Rippled Lives – The Sequel

As I attempted to turn my focus to another topic, the Lord kept pulling me back to the stormy seas. There’s something more here, I thought. There’s something else God wants me to see. And so I sat with open Bible  before me as I poured over the words of Mark 4:35-41 yet again.

Following a day filled with stories of scattered seeds and lamps under baskets, this troupe of disciples set sail from shore with a tired Teacher. Settled into the stern of the boat, Jesus entrusted His friends to navigate the Sea of Galilee while He rested. For awhile, all was well — until the tides turned, quite literally.

Then Jesus found Himself suddenly awakened by the desperate cries of, “Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?” During this moment, I can’t help but wonder if Jesus’ thoughts fast-forwarded to the Cross in His future. Or perhaps they rewound to a celestial conversation with His Father as they finalized the plans for His earthly birth in a remote desert stable. Do I not care that you are perishing? He may have pondered. My children, it’s the very reason I’m here with you now.

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. (John 3:16)

When the storms of life hit us with terrifying force, it’s hard to remember the Truth. It’s hard to rest secure when what we thought to be a solid foundation seems as if it’s rolling beneath our feet. All too quickly, we cave into despair and allow ourselves to be engulfed with the chaos of our present stormy circumstances. Until Jesus reminds us of His presence.

…Then He arose and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, ‘Peace, be still.’ And the wind ceased and there was a great calm.

The disciples were fearfully amazed at the power poured out on their behalf as they watched the wind and the sea succumb to His command.

With access to “the rest of the story” as written in the Gospels, I can’t help but think of how seemingly insignificant a thing it was for Jesus to silence this storm. After all, the other occasion when “He arose” displayed the glory of His power in a wave of events that turned the tide of eternity — forever. When the stone was rolled away, revealing an empty tomb of the Conqueror of sin and death, we have no doubt.

Do You not care that we are perishing? seems like a silly question, indeed.

And yet, I find myself so easily drawn into its web. Some days it seems as if there is no escape. Some days I forget that this earth is not my home. Some days I, like the disciples, fail to realize that a capsized boat on the sea can do nothing more than catapult me into the gates of eternity — an eternity that has been purposefully and lovingly prepared for me. Purchased by the blood of the One who so completely and utterly DOES care for me. The One who sacrificed all for me to keep me from perishing.

Some days we’re tempted to cling to this world too tightly.  Some days we’re coaxed to doubt that our Savior is present in our present storms. Some days we wonder why He seems to be waiting so interminably long to intervene in our trials. Some days we simply forget.

We forget that God is not slow in keeping His promises. We forget He has much bigger eternal plans in mind than these earthly eyes can possibly see. We forget that it is His desire that none perish but that all would come to repentance. Some days we forget this world is nothing more than a whisper of our lives and these present storms are not our eternal lot.

Some days we simply need to remember the One whose voice speaks across the waters, silencing the wind and waves. More importantly, we need to remember the One whose power overcomes not only the grave but our own weak faith. No matter how small that faith may seem at any given moment.

He’s got this, you know.

Most of all, He’s got you.

And He’s not about to let you perish. 

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Rippled Pages, Rippled Lives

The story of Jesus calming the stormy sea is a favorite children’s Bible lesson and one I have taught on numerous occasions, as testified by the rippled and bubbly page in my Bible – the effects of so many water droplets sprayed over it throughout the years. Whenever my hands encounter this bumpy surface among the otherwise smooth pages, I’m transported to memories of a roomful of excited children squeezed into a large cardboard boat. Oh, the joys of Vacation Bible School!

Although this account in Mark 4:36-41 is one with which I am very familiar, I have somehow managed to give little thought to a very short statement contained within these verses: Leaving the crowd, they took Him along with them in the boat, just as He was… (v. 36, emphasis mine)

The disciples took Jesus just as He was, only to find that “as He was” was not necessarily as they had hoped He would be. When the winds began to howl, gathering the waves of the sea and crashing them against the rapidly-filling boat, these seasoned fisherman found themselves terrified in the face of a storm.

But He (Jesus) was in the stern, asleep on a pillow. And they awoke Him and said to Him, ‘Teacher, do You not care that we are perishing?’

Contrary to the disciples’ assumptions, Jesus was not unaware of the storm; He was just more fully aware of God’s power over it. While His physical body may have required sleep, His spirit was still attuned to God, and by all appearances, completely at rest in Him, too. Not so with the disciples.

How easily I can relate. When all I see and hear and feel are the effects of the storm, it’s hard to take Jesus as He is.

It’s hard to come to terms with a Savior who sleeps during tempests. It’s hard not to question the depths of His care for me when He appears so unconcerned. “For crying out loud, I am perishing here, Lord! Don’t You care? How is it that You remain so oblivious to my crisis?”

Funny how we so readily take Jesus just as He is — until the boat begins to rock. Until our circumstances take an abrupt turn for the worse. Then suddenly we find ourselves fearful. Suddenly we find we are no longer able to stand by and trust the way Jesus is responding or seemingly not responding to our needs.

The disciples were content to take Jesus sleeping peacefully in the stern of the boat — until their own capabilities proved incapable of handling the situation. Isn’t it amazing how we can move to the point where we believe we are the ones keeping our own boats afloat? During the calms, we become self-reliant, content to let Jesus sleep while we turn our backs toward Him and handle life on our own. Until our boats begin to rock precariously. Until the floods of life start dumping upon us, threatening to destroy all we hold dear.

Then we join our voices with that of the disciples in crying out, “Lord, do You not care?”

Do You “not care”?

The absolute absurdity of that statement encompasses just how completely the disciples had been overpowered by their fears. Why not scream, “Lord, save us!”, “Help!”, “Stop this storm!”, etc.?

But instead, they awoke Him with a question. And not just any question, but an accusatory one: Teacher, do You not care…?

And that is the crux of our struggle. It’s not so much our lack in believing God is capable of calming the storm. It’s the question of whether or not He truly cares for us.

Think of all the disciples had experienced with Jesus — He had cast out demons, astonished scribes and pharisees with His authority to teach God’s Word, healed multitudes of people, stretched out His hands to touch unclean lepers, raised a paralytic to his feet, dined with tax collectors and sinners, fulfilled the laws of God with love, and shared the Kingdom of heaven as He moved with compassion among the people… Yet they still asked, Do You not care…?

All too often, we find ourselves in the same boat with the disciples. No longer willing to take Jesus as He is, we call into question all we have known and experienced of Him in the past. Capitulated to our fears, we threaten to release the truth in the face of our present circumstances when we would do well to simply climb into the stern with our Savior and lay our head against His breast.

If you are facing a present storm, I encourage you to remember the One who is in the stern of your boat. More importantly, remember that You have given Him entrance into your life just as He is. So instead of panicking at the sign of your rapidly-filling boat, grab a pillow and head to the back where Jesus is calmly in control. Then lay your head to rest against the One whose very word controls the heartbeat of the universe as you snuggle into His presence until this disaster has passed.

Fear not, dear one. He cares for you.

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To the One Who is More Than…

Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, to Him be glory… (Ephesians 3:20)

This has been a week where I’ve found myself being faced with more questions than answers. Where the harshness of life’s storms clashes with whirlwind force against the peaceful calm of God’s presence. And while I’ve assumed my position of cheering along the sidelines, I’ve suddenly ran out of words with which to encourage my exhausted teammates who are being nailed by tackle after tackle. And so, I pray in silence.

Forcing my soul to stillness, I take my questions to the One Who speaks in the whirlwind.

And in so doing, I am reminded of the timelessness of His presence. The vastness of His existence. The scope of a love that knows no limits and cannot be contained or restrained by any force in the universe. How thankful I am to know that God is a constant calm when the ever-changing winds of life rip through my soul. When faced with how fleeting this life can be, I am reminded of the Eternal. And I am grateful. Grateful that God remains. Firm. Solid. Immovable. Everlasting.

Unlike my flitting thoughts and tumbling emotions, God is never swayed by circumstances. Never given over to anything but His great love for us. Bending near to the one who cries out to Him. Rushing into the chaos to rescue His children and hold them close throughout the raging tempest. Turning the roaring to whispers, His voice echoes through the whirlwind, commanding peace to settle and remain. And my heart breathes in the truth of knowing I am held in a grip that never slackens its hold.

As I sit and watch this brewing storm, I am reminded that my Father reigns. Nothing stands against. Everything bows. My heart most of all.

Stirred with remembrance, I thank the One Who is enough. Indeed, the One Who is More Than.
More than
my doubts and fears.
More than the questions swirling in my mind.
More than the circumstances tugging me toward unbelief.
More than able to do exceedingly, abundantly beyond anything that I could ask or think.
Simply, More Than.

So today, I lay all my questions at His feet, and I choose to give Him praise. Even before He gives the answers. I will break the silence with shouts of worship, joining with angelic anthem in a song that rings louder than this storm. I will open my mouth in a chorus of praise that invites God’s glory to the forefront of my thoughts as I give honor to the One Who speaks in the whirlwind. To the One Who is, Who was, and will always be More Than.

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