….the wind and the waves

Waves (1 of 1)Panic and dread swept over him as he contemplated his decision to step off the relative safety of the vessel and into the tempest toward his friend and mentor. Wind swept waves crashed around him as sea spray drenched his outer clothing and he began to lose his footing, sinking deeper into the darkness that seemed to swallow him up with every passing second. With confidence lost, he now found himself trapped and doomed to perish when he cried out, “Save me!” Even before his words could be squelched by the winds, he was swept up and rescued by the very one he sought to reach in the first place as he heard these words, “O you of little faith, why did you doubt?”

At one point or another we all have found ourselves in tough situations where all at once it seemed that everything was crashing in on us? One minute we are planning for the future and the next we are wondering what the future might hold, having received terrifying news that a loved one is desperately sick or the job you have held for the last quarter of a century is being “dis-continued”, effective in days! All at once our confidence is shaken to the core and we are searching for answers, grasping at any handhold within reach.

In my opening narrative we read of just such a thing happening to an individual who had the confidence to step out of his comfort zone yet, when things got tough his confidence was completely shaken. In the Gospel of Matthew chapter 14 and verses 22-33 we read the whole account of Jesus walking on the water, in the dead of night and coming up to the wind tossed boat He calls out to the disciples, who as you would imagine were terrified upon seeing Him…save one.

Peter, calls out to the Lord and says. “Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water” (v.28). Jesus seeing an opportunity to build up Peters faith simply says, “Come” (v.29)! Of course Peter climbs out of the boat and walks toward his Teacher. Yet, as he walked toward Jesus, Peter found himself looking not at his Lord but at his own surroundings. Wind howled all around him, waves were crashing at his feet and the boat where he found sanctuary just a few minutes before was getting further and further away with every passing step. Panic stricken he cries out and is quickly rescued being held onto by Jesus. All is good! Or is it? Peter now finds himself with Jesus but, still on the water.

So often we wrongly assume that when we desperately pray for rescue from our trials and tough situations that God will quickly remove us from our circumstance and put us on solid ground, or in Peters case, back into the boat. But often times God will choose to leave us in the trial, wanting to teach us that He has everything under control even in this troubling moment. He hasn’t abandoned us, He still is at our side encouraging us to trust in Him through it all wanting us to know that there is nothing that His children will experience without it first being approved by Him.DSC_9284-Edit

I am reminded of a song recorded by the Christian group Mercy Me called “Even If”, and in that song the singer proclaims that, “when You choose To leave mountains unmovable, Oh give me the strength to be able to sing, It is well with my soul.” Also, In the Book of Proverbs, Chapter 3 verses 5-6 it is written, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding, in all your ways acknowledge Him and He will make your paths straight.” There is much to be said about trusting in Him that can be expounded on in another piece, but this I will say and close with. If our earthly Dads allow us to fall off the bike while trying to teach us how to ride and in the process let us experience failure so that one day it will serve to remind us to persevere,  then how much more will God, our Heavenly Father, expect us to trust in Him even if all hope seems lost? He knows that in the end it will cause us to grow in grace and understand that He will always be holding on to us, even in the worst trials imaginable.

 

 

So Simple…a Knock

Wood crackled and hissed as the fireplace radiated its soothing warmth throughout the living room inviting toes, once frozen, to bath in the toasty warmth only a hearth fire can bring. Earl Grey set steeping on the side table as I sat mesmerized, gazing into the fire lazily relaxing from a morning jaunt outside, ignoring the book that lay on the sofa next to me waiting for its opening, letting me dive into today’s reading. Sleepily I opened the pages and began to read…when suddenly I was interrupted by a knock at the door. Curious, I made my way to the front hall wondering who might be standing at the door of my warm sanctuary.

Our lives can get hectic, moving this way or that, never really stopping or slowing down. Phone calls, text messages and social media have taken the place of interpersonal one on one conversations, so that when we finally do come face to face with someone we fidget with our cell phones dying to crawl back into our digital world. Friendly visits, Potlucks and Game Night have given way to the glow of our devices displaying Facebook, Instagram and online gaming acting as the means that we communicate with our friends and family. All the while we disconnect and throw away lost the art of fellowship.

Take for example the door knock, itself giving way to push buttoned intercoms, security guards and video monitoring. Long before the advent of any of this the proper way to announce yourself at someone’s dwelling was to walk up to the door and knock. It took commitment. It took planning and… it took…. but a second. One second to let the party behind the door know that you were waiting for them to acknowledge your presence and open their lives to yours and you too theirs. It all began with one simple gesture…a knock on a piece of wood.

Conversely, for the person inside all they had to do was open the door and receive whatever awaited them. Be it good news or bad they also had a choice to make, either open the door or ignore its beckoned call. Sometimes theirs was the harder choice, as with our sleepy friend in the opening paragraph, we also must stop what we are doing and receive those waiting for the door to be answered and this is the part of fellowship that our phones, computers and video screens can’t provide. In our quest to be immersed in the world and striving to not miss anything, we lose the possible surprises or disappointments that may be on the other side of the door depriving ourselves of what we really need…interpersonal relationship one with another.

I remember a game that several of my friends had put together one summer evening, where we would divide into teams and starting at one person’s home eat finger foods and share a few stories from our day. At the appointed time, we would all pile into a couple of vehicles and make our way to another friend’s home for a sit-down meal, all the while competing in teams to answer questions about some random subject all culminating at a dessert filled living room of yet another compatriot that relished in our company. Throughout the entire evening everyone got to share in the lives of folks that otherwise might not have been shared without that game. It took planning, commitment and a willingness to be vulnerable. It was the best!

As I write this, Christmas Season is upon us. Our days are filled with anticipation for Christmas Day festivities that will hopefully include spending quality time with long forgotten family and friends, attending Worship Services and spend some time disconnected from the electronic tether that controls our lives. The Bible’s Book of Revelation, Chapter 3, verse 20 states, “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come into him and eat with him, and he with Me.” Now is the time to not only open our lives to our friends but also to the God that created us all. For He is the One knocking at the door of our hearts beckoning us to Him and drawing us to understand His Son Jesus’ sacrifice so that we can once again have fellowship with Him.