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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
Years ago I participated in a speaker evaluation that required me to craft a five minute faith-based teaching. I did everything possible to prepare my "talk." I prayed. I waited to hear from God. I journaled a few ideas, but it didn't come together like I'd hoped. And I am not I'm not a woman who struggles with self-expression.
Every attempt to prepare was met with weird opposition. A crisis at home occured. I was out of town. My computer crashed. Mid afternoon of evaluation day I entered the prayer room made available to conference attendees. With wet eyes, I bowed. Forehead to the floor, I prayed: Lord, I've made sincere efforts to prepare for this evaluation and yet I have nothing to offer. If you don't put Your words in my mouth I won't have anything to say other than, "Hi. I'm Wendy. Jesus heals. Thank you. Good-bye."
Having done all I could, I took the weight of my need and placed it in God's hands. I was called forward. I took a deep breath and opened my mouth. Guess what? God filled my mouth with His words for four minutes and forty-two seconds. The limit was five. I noticed a woman with tears in her eyes.
This is the power of God.
It would have been irresponsible of me to neglect my part. I continued to pray and do what I could do, but in the end my human efforts--while sincere, were not enough. God blessed my sincerity. He blessed me for trusting Him to accomplish what I could not. He moved on mybehalf.
How does this apply to every day life? Simple. Not easy. In 1999, I was a single mother raising a six-month-old baby and two young children. Most days I lacked every thing I needed to give my children the lifestyle they deserved. And I'm not talking about designer clothes and Chick-fil-A after school. I'm talking about a steady, non-dysfunctional upbringing with a clean and sober dad and a sane mother. I loved my children with all my heart, but it didn't negate the fact that they were being raised in a chaotic environment by a woman who'd only ever known a life filled with chaos.
I did the best I could to get to the other side of my personal and family dysfunction. I prayed. I worked. I ran my household and took care of my children. I received wise counsel from mentors and professionals who instructed me to take responsibility for my own actions and stop judging everyone else for theirs. But even only that took me so far.
In the end it was the unfailing love and power of God coupled with my willingess to suffer the intensity of facing my painful past that brought me to the shoreline of healing and forgivnesss. And I received the peace that surpasses all understanding, at last.
The take away for me is: Trust God with what you can do. And trust God to do what you can't do.
"Take my yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light." (Matthew 11: 29-30)
Chief principle: Don't be hard on yourself. I've made countless mistakes in my personal life and with my children. But nothing--nothing can overshadow the redeeming love of God. I am living proof. Stay the course. It's only a matter of time before you are living proof.
Are you doing what you can? Thank Him for your ability. Have you entrusted Him with what you can't do? Thank Him in advance for His provision.
Your part: What am I doing that I CAN do? [List the need and the actions you're taking to meet the need.] What am I capable of doing that I neglect to do out of fear or sheer unwillingness to suffer?
God's part: To do what I can't do as I rest in His ability to act on my behalf.
There ya go.
Published on Wednesday, August 2, 2017 @ 11:21 PM CDT