“35 On that day, when evening had come, he said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” 36 And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. 37 And a great windstorm arose, and the waves were breaking into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.38 But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion. And they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” 39 And he awoke andrebuked the wind and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. 40 He said to them, “Why are you so afraid? Have you still no faith?” 41 And they were filled with great fear and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?”
Hello to you all!
I do apologize for the small sabbatical I took from writing. It started out as a good little break, and then slowly tumbled downhill as I became overwhelmed with school, work, and my own personal struggles.
Over the past month or so, I have slowly become increasingly busy as I prepare for the summer. School became MORE demanding (what a shock). I am helping plan a youth retreat for my home church. I had to turn down a trip to Tennessee, because of school, I haven’t been reading my Bible as much, because of school, I work during the few days I don’t have school…I’m broke because I don’t spend my money wisely, so I’m stuck not being able to enjoy time with others because I have to still pay bills and such things.
One might think that school is the problem here. Or money. Or a huge workload.
But in fact, it’s not. Because I’ve discovered lately that no matter the circumstances of life, that it’s my response that determines how things are going to go. The passage above describes the well-known story of Jesus calming the wind and the waves, and reading it brings to mind a few lessons I’ve learned over the past weeks.
1) Just because you don’t see Him doesn’t mean He isn’t there.
When life is swirling all around us, it’s easy to focus on what’s immediately happening. I have had to juggle school, work, bills, and life all at the same time and it is so easy, so natural, to give in to the misery. “woe is me,”, I cry, “for life has taken me into its depths!”. I felt like I was drowning, I felt like I had come up against the side of a very steep mountain, and had no energy to climb. I didn’t see where God was in the midst of my mess.
But as we see in the story, even though the disciples are focused on the storm, Jesus is still in the boat. Jesus, the incarnate living Son of God, was in the boat. He controls the waves they were so concerned about! His very will allowed for the storm to even exist! God is there in the middle of our struggles, in the midst of the arduous climbs we have to make. We need to keep our focus on Him-not on the storm surrounding us. Because when we recognize that God is always there, it makes storms more bearable. When we know that the Almighty God is in our boat, holding our rope, it allows us to calm down. Step back. See a bit of a bigger picture than what is immediately before us.
2) We can’t learn all lessons on silent seas.
This is the harder one to take in. Let’s say I’m a nautical kind of guy, and I’m teaching my son about sailing. I would like to start on a sunny day, clear, nice breeze…laying a foundation for his knowledge. But if I only teach him, all the time, during perfect weather, what about when a storm comes? When the wind is a bit strong, and dad doesn’t happen to be there? That could be potentially dangerous. Instead, as he grows in knowledge, I take him out when the winds are a bit strong. I let him experience some rough sea, get wet a time or two. A hiker can only learn so much going on small state trails. If He wants to tackle Everest, more of a challenge is needed to build up his skill.
The disciples had Jesus, they had His teachings, but to put what they learned into practice was another ordeal. Sometimes, the storms in our lives are meant to teach us. I messed up big time financially, to the point where I barely had $50 to my name with bills to pay. It was my fault, yes. But it taught me about responsibility, and it taught me to trust in God to get me through-and He did, with just what I needed to get by. I was in a rut spiritually, and God has used this rut to show me that it’s because I’ve been negligent of the discipline required in school for me to continue on in faith. God will send the storm not to shake our faith, but to test us and to grow us. As James says, we are to rejoice in our trials because they produce perseverance in us. They allow us to put into practice the things we have heard and talked about, and they teach us new things both about ourselves and the God we serve. I’ve learned over the past few months that God always has a means to provide; even when it isn’t what I expected or hoped.
3) The valleys can be pretty, too.
Being in a low place in life is never a fun place to be, let’s be honest. Over the past month or so the journey has not been fun. I’ve been stressed out and beat up and tired all the time, slacking in work and trying desperately to figure out what’s going on.
However, looking at the situations that I’m in, there are a lot of things that have gotten better because of my time away. I’ve realized how much I love to write for God. I have a growing family (shoutout to the Brunos for that one) that keeps me centered on Christ. I have a potential writing opportunity with a local company, I’ll be working more hours as school lets out, and just a series of recent events that have given me a new sense of conviction about my faith. Because even when you’re in the storm…even when you’re looking up at the mountain in front of you. It can be quite beautiful to see what lessons, what beauty can be brought out of tough situations. I still don’t have lots of money. I have bills, and I need to clean my room, and I need to keep doing well in school at the end here. But the outlook is different. I recognize now that God really never left me, that I just couldn’t see Him. I realize that I’ve learned some good lessons that I can now apply to the life that’s ahead of me. I see the beauty of the valley, and I look forward to the climb ahead.
So I’m back for a good while now, to continue to share the lessons and stories and teachings God puts on my heart. I love you all, dear readers, and I look forward to what the future has in store. God bless.