It really doesn’t matter the exact circumstances. We all have hard things in our lives; we are in limbo about this or that, we are all waiting for something. We all have people in our lives that we pray for; we watch them bobbing out there on the waves that only Jesus can calm.
And sometimes WE are those people bobbing out there on the waves that only Jesus can calm.
That has been me for a while. I’ve been feeling a little untethered from the boat, a little unglued. It’s exactly what I fear: That when especially hard times come, I will not be able to keep it together. So, I’m coming to this blog today with such honesty…and with some good news as well!
- John 15. Jesus says, “Remain in me and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself…” Let me just stop there. I’m a branch. I can’t bear my own fruit. Right now, the fruit I want to bear is: a steady heart, believing God is good, simple trust, patience, joy. But “it must remain in the Vine. You cannot bear fruit unless you remain in the Vine. If a man remains in me, and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” The whole chapter goes on to explain this thought: “remain in my love and your joy will be complete”. My heart has sort of been in shut down mode with others and a little with God, too. I don’t want to “Be still and know that He is God!” (Ps. 46:10) But until I do, there will be chaos in my soul and the fruit that I long to bear and benefit from will not be there.
- Psalm 51. David says, “Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.” When you’ve been under stress or grieving or just having to surrender again and again (and of course I’ve just described life here), it does not take long for a spirit of disappointment, bitterness, and distrust to sneak in. We begin to see life from a defensive position, trying not to be hurt again. But the pure heart I long for would be void of that response…where there is now disappointment, bitterness, and distrust, this bold and honest prayer asks for a pure heart. Think white, clean, open…pure. We’re asking in this prayer for a steadfast spirit, a spirit that doesn’t go up with the good news and down with the bad, but is set on something, Someone, that keeps it steady. When we ask for the joy of our salvation to be restored we are really saying, “Lord, all these other wants and hopes have taken precedence over the gift of your salvation. Help me remember again, in awe and wonder, that my greatest need has already been met thru Jesus.”
- Luke 8:22-25, the story of Jesus and His disciples in a boat when a big storm came up. Jesus was sleeping through it. (Gosh, that feels familiar…”God, are you asleep? Don’t you SEE what’s going on down here? You could do something and You’re not!”) The boys say: “Jesus, we’re going to drown!” Like, “Hello!? Don’t you care?” And Jesus wakes up, meets their need, and says, “Where is your faith?” I kinda wish Jesus had done a “re-do” with them at that moment, so we could know exactly what response to the wind and the waves they should have had. Were they not supposed to wake him? Were they supposed to rebuke the storm themselves? Were they supposed to get tossed overboard and at the bottom of the ocean still be hanging onto stubborn faith that He would take care of them? I’m not going to pretend to know the step by step process of what to do when you’re scared and wondering what God is planning. But I do know this: Jesus was in the boat with them. And He is in my boat with me, too. When I say I’m going to drown under all this, He says, “Where is your faith? Don’t you think that me (the Master, the great I AM) being with you is worth something?” We are going to rock on these waves awhile. This is life. But He’s holding us while we rock; He’s that close, and He’s whispering in our ear that He knows we’re afraid but that learning to trust Him, learning to relax into His chest and hear His heartbeat, is worth something…may be worth everything…may be the very reason we’re here. Perhaps if the boys were to do a re-do they would wake Jesus and say something a little more like this: “Jesus, we hate storms. It feels like it’s going to hurt us more than we can bear. Please make it stop, but until You do, can we lay down there with You?”