Monday, August 6, 2012

Calm vs. Peace

I am definitely in a stormy period in my life. It may not be a full out tornado, but it is a steady down pour with the occasional squall. The squalls usually involved my children. They are no respecters of my disease. They still act like willful children. Yesterday I was in charge of children's church. It went fine except for my two littlest ones—they int interrupted me every five seconds, whining and crying about some such matter. I finally had to drag them (literally) out to their father, them screaming all the while. What a nightmare!

Here I was serving God and this happens. I often find myself wishing things would go smoother, especially on the days of my treatment. Is it too much to ask that my children get ready without struggle, that my house be clean and in order, that my appliances and car work without fail? Yes, it is.

God never says life will be without storms. He just promises that He will be there to help us weather them. Sometimes God calms the storms and I am forever grateful for the rest that provides, but sometimes He lets the winds roar and we just have to trust Him.

I can think of several instances in the Bible involving storms and the disciples.

One is in Mark 4. This time everyone was in the boat, including Jesus when

37 [a] furious squall came up, and the waves broke over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. 38 Jesus was in the stern, sleeping on a cushion. The disciples woke him and said to him, "Teacher, don’t you care if we drown?"
39 He got up, rebuked the wind and said to the waves, "Quiet! Be still!" Then the wind died down and it was completely calm.
40 He said to his disciples, "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
This time he calmed the storm. What a wonderful relief to the disciples. Perhaps Jesus sensed their fragile faith couldn't take too much of the wind, but he still needed to teach them to trust Him. Sometimes our storms are short lived, but there is still a lesson to be learned, a lesson to take into the next storm that may last longer.
Another is in Matthew 14. This is the one where Peter walks on water. The wind is buffeting the boat when Jesus came to them:
27 But Jesus immediately said to them: 'Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid."
28 "Lord, if it’s you," Peter replied, "tell me to come to you on the water."
29 "Come," he said.
Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus. 30 But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, "Lord, save me!"
31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. "You of little faith," he said, "why did you doubt?"
32 And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. 33 Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, "Truly you are the Son of God.”
Notice that Jesus didn't calm the storm until Peter had walked out to Him. He may not have lasted long above water, but he did show faith and courage as long as he kept his eyes on Jesus and not the storm. No matter how long the storm, we too must keep our eyes on Jesus and not our circumstances.

Finally in John 6 there is a storm and Jesus walks out to the disciples whose boat was in rough waters. Jesus says, 
“It is I; don’t be afraid." 21 Then they were willing to take him into the boat, and immediately the boat reached the shore where they were heading.
Notice that it never said that he calmed the storm. Perhaps even when they reached the shore safely, the storm still raged. Who knows how long the storm lasted, but Jesus still got them to where they needed to go and He does the same for us.

All three (and many others) have one thing in common—Jesus urged his followers to not be afraid. This is the key between calm and true peace. The truth is that only storms bring growth. It was only in the storms that our faith is tested and we are able to walk on water. But we can still have peace amidst the buffeting if we take courage, resist fear, keep our eyes on Jesus. Then our hearts will have clear skies while outside the wind roars.

Or in my case, my children scream :-)

Psalm 27:1 The Lord is my light and my salvation —
whom shall I fear?
The Lord is the stronghold of my life—
of whom shall I be afraid?

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