Tuesday, June 12, 2012

For France: Was Jesus Asleep in the Stern?

"A Great windstorm arose, and the waves were BREAKING into the boat, so that the boat was already fillinG. But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they WOKE Him & said to Him, "Teacher, do you not CARE that we are perishing?!" And He awoke & REBUKED the wind & said to the sea, "Peace! Be still!" And the wind ceaseD, and there was A GreaT caLm. Jesus said to them, "WHY are you so AFRAID? Have you STILL no FaiTH?" (Mark 4:37-40)
* * *
This story holds immense comfort for me for several reasons. 
  1. The disciples saw all Jesus' miracles up to this point first hand. They'd heard Him preach. They should have known better than anyone who He was and what He could do. But still, they were afraid. 
  2. Their Savior was asleep in the stern, seemingly apathetic towards their desperate situation. Knowing that Jesus was present with them wasn't enough reason for them not to be afraid. 
  3. They sound angry in their panic as they demand, “Do You not care that we are perishing?!” 
  4. Jesus calmed the storm with a word (well, three words) in spite of their doubt. 
  5. He “rebuked the wind” as if the wind was doing something wrong.
This is me on all points. Nope, I'm not in a boat on a stormy sea, but metaphorically... well, aren't we all? And no, frankly, knowing intellectually that God is there with me isn't enough. At least not all the time. I still get angry. I still panic. I'm still scared. And sometimes I still feel like shaking Jesus by the shoulders to wake Him up, shouting, “DON'T YOU CARE THAT PEOPLE ARE DYING?!?!” And what's His response? Is it," You've doubted me one time too many, kid, you're on your own."
Jesus keeps saying, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?”

Only I picture Him saying it with a smile: a knowing, hopeful, understanding smile. "Come on, Megan. I died for you and for those you love, so that we could be in Paradise together forever. Of course I care." There is no one in heaven or on earthGrandmas and Moms includedwho cares more about the fact that we are perishing. (My dear French brothers and sisters, can you hear me?) Jesus, fully God Himself, suffered just so that we wouldn't have to perish forever. He knows our doubt and our windstorms and bullet-storms and storms of so-called "medical-procedures and rights" that erase life as though it never even existed: He's lived them. He's borne them as His very own and even allowed worse to happen to Himself (Psalm 22). He is always present and He is always caring (Matthew 28:20; Deuteronomy 31:6).

He does more than just tell us to take heart, to have courage:
He gives us that courage. 

I don't know why I'm still so afraid sometimes. Why the news makes my heart stop, the tears fall, and the hopelessness creep in. I suppose it has something to do with being both saint and sinner, but I do know that Jesus will continue to remind me who God is, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, over and over again and again and again, as many times as I need reminding. Never once does God promise us a life without storms, but He does promise us salvation through Christ. He promises us His undying love. He promises us mercy, life everlasting, and His presence with us. We have it now in the midst of our own storms, in our own rickety little boats. 

No, that fact doesn't make the waves any smaller,
but it sure makes facing them a whole lot easier.

Jesus will still that storm around you someday. He'll rebuke it for terrorizing you, and He'll take you up to heaven with Him, and all that is wrong will be made right. Until then, some days it feels like He's asleep in the stern, unaware of what you are going through, apathetic to your plight: "Do you not care that I am dying right here in front of Your eyes?!?" Satan is very good at helping us mix up what is REAL with what we FEEL. But the fact is, Jesus is there. Every bad day. Every sleepless hour. Every painful minute. Every unthinkable tragedy. Every war. Not stopping it, no, He does not save us in the way wish He would, but He promises with His help, we will make it through the darkness—beaten up, but not defeated (Ephesians 6:10-20; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12). You will not drown in the wild waters of life on earth. That's a fact. Jesus is in your boat, asleep or no, and that is all it takes (1 Peter 3:18-22).
So, why am I so so afraid, silly sinful girl that I am, whom Jesus loves more than His own life? He, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, laid the foundation of the earth. He's called us each by name, and we are His. The wind and seas obey Him & He's decided to love US. Thanks be to God.
"We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed;
perplexed, but not driven to despair;
persecuted, but not forsaken; 
struck down, but not destroyed." 
Suggested verse to repeat to yourself when it feels like Jesus is asleep in the stern:
PRC buddies, remember to breathe!
“We will not fear -------> 5 count inhale
though the earth gives way.” -------> 5 count exhale
Lutheran Church-Missouri Synod
Father of all mercy, God of peace, look in compassion upon the people of France, and particularly those who have lost loved ones in the recent terrorist attacks. Grant to them the comfort that comes from Your Son's victory over death. Heal the injured and bless those who provide them care. Give to the government officials Your wise counsel that they may protect their people. Grant that those who have perpetrated this slaughter may be brought to justice, and grant them the gift of repentance. We ask these things in the name of Him who knew in His own body the damage of those who thought they served You with violence and hatred, even Jesus Christ, whose death has atoned the sin of all and whose Resurrection is our constant and only hope. Amen.
Nos prières ce soir sont avec la peuple de Paris, traumatiser une deuxième fois cette année par des actes de terreur. Que la voix du Christ, le Prince de Paix, soit entendu dans les arrondissements du capitale français dans les jours qui suivent.

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