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I once saw a cartoon of a woman lying on a sofa in a psychiatrist's office. The caption read: How can I relax when this couch would look so much better in the other corner?
For many years when ancient pain awakened I'd lull it back to sleep with activity. Imagine, God seeks to heal an old wound--a wound that if left unhealed is likely to destroy the relationships I hold dear. And so the Divine beckons. He allows a painful memory to surface.
Tears swell beneath a watery surface so calm it looks like glass. "Deep calls unto deep" (Psalm 42). Meanwhile, an under current of inadequacy circles my feet, and I fear being swept away. I'm compelled to draw near. But wait, I have things to do! And with that thought, I resolve to cry and feel in God's care after I've mopped the floor. Within twenty minutes, my mind has successfully hijacked my senses with the smell of lemon pine-sol and a job well done.
I add a check mark to my to-do list though nothing meaningful has been accomplished. My heart longs for so much more . . .
A Prayer for So Much More:
God of all comfort, I ask for comfort. When the tide comes in and painful memories arise, the pain is so intense that I find it hard to breathe. Forgive me for all the times I unknowingly deny your outstretched arms and kick against the natural flow of your plans for me. Fine-tune my ears to hear your voice and unite my heart to rely upon you. Direct my steps, and help me to recognize the ordinary moments you use to accomplish extraordinary works within my heart.
"For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart" (Jeremiah 29:11-13).
Published on Tuesday, June 25, 2019 @ 6:30 PM CDT
From the mountain Jesus speaks, and the crowd "is astonished at his teaching" (Matthew 7).
When Jesus leaves the multitudes those in need follow: A leper, a centurion whose servant is paralyzed and in torment. Folks stricken with physical ailments; some tortured by demons.
Now he enters the home of Peter where he sees his disciple's mother-in-law lying sick with a fever. It only takes one gentle touch of His hand to cool her body and dry her brow. Jesus is patient. He is kind. He's grown tired after giving so much of himself and seeks a place to rest his head, preferably alone.
Fast forward. He's on a boat, but not alone. (The disciples had spotted him getting into the boat and joined in.) One yawn, and the Son of God sleeps. The wind kicks up. The sky grows dark, and the disciples grow nervous as the eyes of their Savior remain closed. I imagine their self-talk: Don't worry. He'll open his eyes if and when there's something to worry about.
This coping mechanism works until violent waves crash against the boat and over their heads. In my minds-eye I see the disciples covered in water, and worry, and waking Jesus. "Lord, save us! We are perishing!" Jesus opens one eye long enough to say, "Why are you fearful, O you of little faith" (Matthew 8: 25--26)?
Next he tells the wind and the sea to knock it off, mutters something about can't a guy get any sleep around here, and a raging sea grows calm.
Here's the take away for me.
I worry sometimes. I try not to worry. The disciples tried not to worry. I could read this passage with arrogance; question not only their faith but their intelligence. I mean, come on guys! Look at Jesus' track record. One miracle after another and you've yet to trust him with your lives?
Truth is, I've been in that boat. Sometimes I'm the disciple with a long list of miracles in my sweaty palm who dares to question whether or not Jesus is aware of the storm. The storm threatening to break my heart and flood my iCalendar with so much water no amount of rice could restore my plans for tomorrow.
Fear makes us forgetful if we let it. Fear whispers that God is unaware when life-sized storms drop softball sized hail over our fervent prayers.
Fear says we are alone in the boat, and if we do not take matters into our own hands we will surely drown as Jesus sleeps.
This is a lie. The eyes of God do not slumber. They are ever upon us. I rejoice when through the empowerment of His Holy Spirit I opt out of panic and rest with my Savior in the eye of the storm.
Journal entry 9.29.15. A single mother; still developing my "sea legs" after the divorce.
I lie in bed at night. Stare at the ceiling. I practice closing my eyes intermittently in an attempt to lasso the untamed "whys" as they circle my bed in mid-air. I ponder. The eyes of the Lord do not slumber.
Some nights this is enough for me. I let my mind go. My body follows. I am asleep. Other times, I find rest in the assurance that I am not alone. I am not at the mercy of godless insomnia. I am at the mercy of a promise. The promise to be held when human efforts fail and a life-long dream takes the shape of a nightmare.
When the sheer intensity of loss overtakes me, I ask God, who created me to love so passionately in the first place, to take hold of me. And I am held.
I enter into rest confident that the Savior of the World is alongside me--staring at the ceiling. I can.
"In returning and rest you shall be saved; In quietness and confidence shall be your strength" (Isaiah 30: 15b).
We are not alone,
Published on Tuesday, June 11, 2019 @ 8:37 AM CDT