Is the person who has faith the one who goes outside and demands that the storms stop, or the person who hunkers down and trusts it will pass?
I haven’t had much luck asking for God to change the weather, but I have found him in the bottom of my boat, tranquil and unafraid encouraging me to sleep restfully through the darkness of my storms. I have come to learn that the old story told by Matthew, Mark and Luke in their biographies of Jesus isn’t so much about us waking God up, but maybe God teaching us to sleep assured of his presence. This has been a hard thing for me to discover. In the Gospel accounts Jesus and his friends are in a boat at night crossing a lake when a fierce squall puts them in danger. The disciples are frantically trying to steer the boat and keep it afloat when they discover Jesus asleep in the stern. They accuse him of not caring that they may die. Jesus gets up and proceeds to calm the storm and then asks why they still have no faith. This makes a great children’s story, but this wasn’t an account written for kids. Mark wrote the earliest version of this story during the terrible Jewish Roman war in the late 60’s AD. I think for early believers this story wasn’t just about miracles, it was about faith.
Recently my wife has been hospitalized for six months in a terrible medical crisis, that has introduced the word paraplegic to our vocabulary. I have spent much of the past year calling out to God wondering were he was. It was easy to believe that his silence meant his absence. I have come to believe that just because God doesn’t scare, doesn’t mean God doesn’t care. I can’t explain how it happened but I know that something changed when I went below the deck of my life. I discovered the creator of the universe was there all along, resting unafraid encouraging me to ride out the storm.
Tweet: God doesn’t want to change the weather, he wants to change our hearts
I have always thought that faith was facing the Squall and demanding it stop. I have come to discover something completely different. Faith is trusting that the circumstances all around me don’t have to determine the feelings inside me, nor the path ahead of me.
We face storms of many kinds in this life. Some of them are of our own foolish design. Sometimes it the relationships we choose, or the life we pursue that ends up tossing us around. Humility and honesty often the miracle needed to stop that chaos in our lives. But then there are those storms, that come from nowhere. We look deep inside to see if the universe is punishing us for something we have done. We make our case before God wondering if he is asleep at the wheel. Sometimes we discover he isn’t asleep at the wheel, but resting deep inside, unafraid. Encouraging us to rest with him—assured that this will not be our end. And we should rest, because when the storm stops, and the wind is gone. Our lives will be way off course, and we will have some rowing to do. But that is how we discover new lands. These are the moments we see with new eyes. The Life of faith is not unmarred or unscathed. This isn’t because that wouldn’t be faith but because that wouldn’t be life.
When you have learned how to ride out a storm, really learned how to persevere and keep on going—you have grown. I believe it is Richard Rohr who says that we should never let a storm pass through our lives without grabbing a hold of it and demanding we become better for it. Not that we need to merely become better, but that we can make this terrible crisis serve us and not ruin us. If we let these hard times go without making them teach us, then they come and go unredeemed. They are merely experiences that weaken us. Perhaps like in this story told about Jesus—storms aren’t about waking God up, but waking us up. And with a bit of irony, sometimes they wake us up to the idea, that we can rest knowing that while all hell breaks loose around us, this will not be our end. But only a new beginning. And Jesus has it right, darkness is for sleeping.
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