They come in all shapes and sizes. It seems they come at the most inopportune moments of our life. But we all agree the do come ... and how we perceive them an react to them makes all the difference. Yes, storms are as much a part of life as breathing.
A few weeks back, my pastor Sam gave a message about storms. He talked to us about that familiar story where Jesus was sleeping in the stern of the fishing boat during a pretty violent blow on the Sea of Galilee. It's a tale we've heard ever since we first saw the old flannel-graph board. But I learned something new as I listened.
Storms come at us primarily from four perspectives. The Enemy certainly sends them as part of the work he seems to enjoy so much. He intends to do us great harm, mainly because he knows he can't win us back. His goal is disruption - plain and simple. He's out to steal our joy and make us focus on the storm.
Storms also come from choices made. Sometimes those were the choices of others and sometimes I made the choice. Either way, I'm left to work through the reality of the storm and all it brings with it. These kinds of storms are often very difficult to deal with because our pride gets in the way and the blame starts flying around.
Storms are also a part of this fallen world. It's broken, folks ... and it won't be completely fixed just yet no matter how hard we try. Those kinds of storms can leave us in doubt about God himself - and that's tough to deal with and work through. But in all these storms, especially the ones coming because the world is a mess, I need to remember that I still have Jesus "in my boat". And that's where today's message from Dan came shining through.
I had intended to write just about the storms a few weeks ago. For whatever reason (I now see God's hand in it), I didn't do it before now. And today, I get to incorporate not just the message on storms, but the thoughts of Peace. The words Jesus spoke to his troupe asking, "Why did you doubt?" come back into play again. This time, Jesus is in the Upper Room giving what amounts to his own eulogy and last will and testament. And among the gifts he gives, the greatest one is Peace.
The way he frames it is beyond what I usually think about. John records for us (14:27, NLT) these words, "I am leaving you with a gift - peace of mind and heart. And the peace I give is a gift the world cannot give. So don’t be troubled or afraid." Other translations say it's "not like the world's peace" which I interpret to mean the Master is offering something far different than what they've ever experienced. It's the kind of Peace he had when he was napping in that storm-tossed boat.
Life on the Crooked Path means storms. That's a fact I can't turn away from or ignore. But my Divine Brother has promised me two things that I can count on during those storms, no matter what their source. He says he'll be with me through them. He may not stop them all like he did in that Gospel story, but he's not going to leave the boat. And he gives me Peace - not some temporary fix, mind you - a lasting, deep Peace that reaches to the depth of my soul. I just need to bring my storm to his feet and lay it there.